Category Archives: Indigenous housing

PM identifies housing shortage as key issue in NT

During a visit to Tennant Creek, in the Northern Territory, the PM Malcolm Turnbull acknowledged the pressing need for more housing.

‘The lack of housing is the biggest single issue that has been described in every encounter,’ Mr Turnbull stated during the end of the second day of his NT visit.

Whilst the Federal Government announced $550 million funding to support the NT Government’s remote Indigenous Housing Plan back in April, it is yet to make any committments with the South Australia, Western Australia, and Queensland governments in relation to indigenous housing.

Read more here.

Frog Hollow needs your help

Community Housing Housing Ltd (CHL) is helping promote a fundraising campaign to ensure children in a remote Aboriginal community can continue to access early learning, with space issues threatening the current program.

Wurreranginy, commonly known as Frog Hollow, is an independent community with a strong council of Gija Elders and community members. The community has worked together for over 30 years to establish an independent, Aboriginal-governed school on their home country, so their families and future generations to come could receive a quality education and live in the nurturing and safe community of Frog Hollow.

Both the school and the Early Learning Centre teach with a two-way approach, having both Gija language and English being spoken and taught daily in classrooms, further strengthening the cultural identity of the children and ensuring they are skilled in both worlds.

Frog Hollow is thriving, enrollments at the school have increased 350 per cent over the past three years, with 44 students enrolling in 2018.

The current Early Learning Program has 13 children aged 0-3 and, until this year, has operated out of an empty classroom, however as student numbers at the school grow, the classroom is now required as a learning space for the primary aged children – leaving the preschoolers with nowhere to go.

An Early Learning Centre is vital to engage children from the early years into education, and support their transition to school.

Funds raised for an ELC will not only guarantee educational opportunities for preschool aged children, it will also create employment opportunities for community members involved in the build and construction of the facility and for those employed to work in the ELC, as well as providing a safe place for children to stay while their families are working.

The Early Years Program has been a dream of the Elders of Frog Hollow who see the importance of education for their children. Until recently, the community has been able to make use of community and school resources to ensure the program can exist, however due to a lack of Government funding to build the ELC, Frog Hollow community are seeking innovative ways to fund this project.

To support the cause, students from the school have created an official logo and participated in the making of, and have starred in, a series of videos and photographs which will be housed on the dedicated Facebook page created to raise awareness and keep people up to date with the status of the project.

In total of $240,000.00 is being sought to cover the costs of the required materials, the extensive costs in transporting them to the site, and labour. Donations are tax deductible or alternatively, there is an option to instead choose a small gift relative to the value of donation.

Click here to learn more or to donate

NSW Cost of Living Budget leaves out housing costs for renters

Additional funding to support Aboriginal housing and people who are homeless is good news
but the NSW Budget does not include new investment in more social and affordable housing for
NSW renters in housing stress, the state’s peak not-for-profit housing body said today.

The Budget announced today includes an additional $61 million over four years for homelessness
programs, and $33.1 million over four years to support Aboriginal housing.

However, CHIA NSW CEO, Wendy Hayhurst, said the NSW Government had missed the
opportunity to reinvest the $18.25 billion it has reaped in stamp duty windfalls since 2011 in
providing the 12,500 social and affordable homes NSW will need each year to keep up with population growth.

‘Homelessness support services aren’t effective if people don’t also have secure permanent
homes to go to,’ Ms Hayhurst said.

‘And extra funding for childcare, education and health will only go so far if children don’t have a
safe, secure home to go to at the end of the day, or people leaving hospital can’t recover safely
at home.

‘This Budget had a chance to future-proof our housing system by encouraging investment in the
social and affordable housing we’ll need in the future as Sydney’s population continues to grow.’

Ms Hayhurst recognised the NSW Government could not solve the problem on its own – after
the Federal Government’s Budget failed to deliver funding to kick start greater investment in
social and affordable housing from bodies such as superannuation funds.

‘State Government housing programs such as the Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF),
Communities Plus, and Future Directions are good programs but will not deliver the scale of
new housing needed,’ she said.

‘We need all levels of government to work together on solutions –and a strategy that includes a
suite of measures, from planning reforms, to access to government land, and direct subsidies to
close the funding gap for community housing providers.’

Key facts

NSW needs 12,500 social and affordable homes a year for people on low and middle incomes.
Homelessness has increased by 48% in Sydney and 37% in NSW over five years (Census).
The number of social housing properties has not kept up with population growth – over the last 20 years there has been a 4% increase in properties against a 30% increase in households in need (AHURI).
60,000 people are on waiting lists for social housing in NSW.
In April, there was not a single property affordable for a young family on a minimum wage to rent within 20km of Sydney’s CBD – and the situation as almost as bad in most regional centres (Anglicare 2018 Rental Affordability Snapshot).
In Sydney average house prices are still roughly 12 times average incomes.

  • content courtesy of CHIA NSW

A remote West Australian Aboriginal community has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds needed to turn new and refurbished social housing into homes by providing the funds to purchase essential household items, from beds to kettles.

Tjuntjuntjara is located in the Great Victoria Desert, about 690km north-east of Kalgoorlie. Access to the community is difficult due to the surrounding terrain, with food supplies flown in on a fortnightly basis.

The 2011 census reported the community’s population as 162, but Tjuntjuntjara has grown over the last few years and now acts as a service centre for surrounding outstations.

In December 2017, the West Australian Government announced a major capital works and essential services package to upgrade existing social housing and to improve essential services in the community. Work on the properties is nearly complete and, in June, the residents will receive access to 10 new multigenerational houses and 12 upgraded existing houses.

Not-for-profit community housing organisation Community Housing Ltd manages the properties on behalf of the Department of Housing.

Whilst the construction works have been funded by the National Partnership in Remote Housing, the community and residents themselves are completely responsible for furnishing their homes. This presents a big challenge for most community members who are on low incomes. The high cost of freight to the community makes purchasing essential household items unaffordable for low income residents.

The Paupiyala Tjarutja Aboriginal Corporation (PTAC), which manages the Tjuntjuntjara community on behalf of the Spinifex traditional owners, has launched a ‘GoFundMe’ appeal on behalf of the community to solicit donations in cash and kind. CHL is supporting the appeal as part of its broader community engagement program.

‘CHL is committed to community development with dedicated staff who focus on facilitating community development projects which have been generated and are led by community,’ says CHL’s Community Development Project Manager, Rachel Lattimore.

‘CHL’s approach is based on identifying the strengths, knowledge, and capability within communities and developing innovative ideas to create sustainable, resilient, communities. CHL has adopted an Aboriginal Community Strategy, and a Community Development Framework to ensure best practice.’

PTAC can accept gifts or donations on behalf of donors that are tax deductible and directly benefit the community. They are looking for the public’s assistance to raise money or donate physical items such as: storage and transport of items to Tjuntjuntjara, fridges, bedframes, dining furniture, kettles and washing machines.

For details, and to support the campaign, see GoFundMe, or PTAC’s website.

Community housing’s take on Budget 2018

The Commonwealth Government’s 2018 Budget has let the momentum slide on affordable housing.

While the 2017 Federal Budget laid the foundations for real improvements in affordable housing this year’s budget fails to follow through.

This budget focuses on tax reform, infrastructure investments, improving security, and the digital economy. The tax reforms are unlikely to impact on many community housing tenants but will provide some assistance to those in affordable housing: from 2018-19, an increase to the Low Income Tax Offset will deliver around $530 pa to 10 million low and moderate income earners. From July 2024, the 37 per cent tax scale will be abolished and only 6 per cent of the population with income over $200,000 will pay the highest marginal tax rate (45 per cent).

There is an additional $24.5 billion for infrastructure initiatives on top of the $75b announced in the last budget – no mention of housing, this is all roads, rail, ports and air infrastructure, and $1b to fix congestion in cities.

Major sector-specific measures:
The major measures focussed on the social and affordable housing sector in this year’s budget are:
• $550m over five years under a new Bilateral Agreement to improve Indigenous Housing in Northern Territory (already announced); and
• extra funding to improve the condition of public housing in the Northern Territory, including asbestos removal
• a related measure will provide $259.6m in 2017-18 to the NT government to offset GST reductions, so it can improve services in remote communities.

Minister Scullion’s Press Release advises that the government is in negotiations with the Queensland, South Australian and Western Australian governments ‘about future Commonwealth investment [in housing] in those jurisdictions’.

Minor sector-specific measures:
National Regulatory Scheme for Community Housing (NRSCH) will be funded $1.1m over 2017-18 and 2018-19 towards the evaluation of the NRSCH.
Australian Housing & Urban Research Institute (AHURI) will receive $5.5m/three years to continue the national housing research program.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics will receive $4.9m/four years to improve data collection of affordable housing stock estimates, planning and zoning activity, and dwelling construction cost. (This looks like the input to a National Housing Supply Council some time in the future.)
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) will receive $0.2m in 2018-19 to improve its user interface for housing and homelessness data collections.

Broader housing-related measures:
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) will get an undisclosed amount to set up North Queensland Home Insurance Comparison website to help home owners compare premiums.

The Western Sydney City Deal will be funded $125m/five years to support infrastructure projects and liveability, including $15m for planning reforms to support housing supply in Western Sydney (this is redirected money from uncommitted funding, not new money).

Other matters:
Wage growth is expected to pick up in the broader economy to 3 per cent pa in 2019-20 (the increases under Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Award are phasing in until 2021). Inflation is projected to increase from 2.25 per cent in 2017-18 to 3.25 per cent in 2019-20. These movements may impact on Community Housing Providers operating costs.

There are some changes to income support arrangements that may have a minor impact on sector rental cash flows.

These include:
• the black economy taskforce response gets another $12.3m over four years – potentially impacting on some social housing tenants’ income declarations
• to encourage ‘lawful behaviour’ among income support recipients, the Commonwealth will be able to compulsorily deduct court-imposed fines and suspend/cancel welfare payments to people with outstanding warrants. How this will impact on tenants with Centrepay deductions is unknown. This may require renegotiation of rental payments for some tenants.
• pensioners will be able to earn up to $300pf (up from $250), without affecting their pension
• employment programs:
– jobs and skills for mature age Australians – $189.7m/five years
– transition to work – $80m/four years to support 40,000 young people aged 15-21 who are at risk of long-term unemployment
– the Community Development Program will ‘redirect $1.1b/five years to improve employment outcomes in remote areas’, including through 6,000 employment subsidies.

The following measures may impact on some CHPs:

Disability and Carers
• the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is to be fully funded
• the NDIS Jobs and Market Fund – $64.3m/four years to help disability service providers take advantage of NDIS opportunities
• an additional $9.9m over two years will help Disability Employment Providers transition to the NDIS
• $92.1m/five years to ensure continuity of support for people who are not transitioning to the NDIS but are getting services under programs that are transitioning to the NDIS (programs not named)
• carer coordination – $113m/five years for Integrated Carer Support Services to help carers navigate the system through a new Carer gateway – an income test will be introduced for the Carer Allowance, with the carer and their partner required to have a combined income of less than $250,000 pa.

Older Australians
More Choices for a Longer Life – a package of measures for older Australians, including:
• 14,000 high-level care packages (on top of 6,000 already announced)
• 13,500 residential age care places
• $40m in capital grants for aged care facilities in regional and remote areas
• several measures focusing on quality of care, including an extra $8.8m to improve transparency of information on aged care provider quality
• more money for mental health services for older Australians
• $22.9m/two years to encourage older Australians to take part in physical activity.

Abstudy – $38.1m/five years will improve Abstudy payments, including providing boarding payments to kids under 16 getting Abstudy Living Allowance, more flexible travel arrangements and relaxed rules about which schools kids can attend.

Stronger Communities Round 4 – $25.9m/two years for small capital projects ($2,500-$25,000) that deliver benefits for local communities (redirected funds, not new money).

Building Better Regions Fund Round 3 – $206.5m/four years for investment in community infrastructure and capacity building projects in regional areas. [Note, some CHPs have accessed BBR funding from previous rounds to support mature age housing).

There are also some institutional reforms that may impact on how CHPs operate, for instance:

Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission – $1m in 2018-19 to respond to ‘anticipated litigation’ as it pursues its role of regulating charities and charity registration
Consumer Data Rights – will allow people to share their data safely ‘with trusted and accredited service providers’.
The National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) -Budget Paper No3 makes it clear that Commonwealth funding under the NHHA includes supplementation to the states and territories until 2021 to assist with wage cost increases under the Social, Community Services and Disability Industry Equal Remuneration order 2012. This was previously paid under a separate National Partnership Agreement for Housing and under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness for homelessness services. (There is no supplementation for CHPs unless states pass this on).
Rent Assistance – Rises from $4.4b to $4.53 mainly as a result of growth in age pensioner and carer pensioner populations.

What’s missing?
1. There is no National Housing Strategy in sight.
2. There are no measures to increase housing supply.
3. There is still no prospect of capital funding or additional subsidy to fill the gap between rental receipts and operating costs, to support the Bond Aggregator and Housing Infrastructure Funding announced in the last budget.
4. There is no reform of Capital Gains tax and negative gearing, which distort the housing market.
5. There is no reform of Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) to alleviate housing stress among low income households.
6. The package of measures in this budget for older Australians, while welcome, is completely silent on housing stress among the 190,000 people over 70 who receive CRA.
7. There is no recognition that affordable, appropriate housing is essential to Closing the Gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, 79 per cent of whom live in non-remote areas.

In short, there is no National Housing Strategy.

Federal Budget silent on National Housing Strategy

This year’s Federal Budget shows exactly why Australia needs a National Housing Strategy, according to the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA).

The $110m for five years to continue work on remote housing in the Northern Territory is very welcome, as is the added funding for the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute and the Australian Bureau of Statistics to improve housing data. Spending on infrastructure to reduce urban congestion and improve transport networks to support our growing population is welcome. The $15m to encourage planning reforms in Western Sydney is a good start.

But this Budget is silent on one of the biggest pressures facing Australian households: housing affordability, says CHIA Executive Director Peta Winzar.

‘House prices at the top of the East coast capital city markets may be coming off the boil, but home ownership remains a challenge for many families on low and moderate incomes and more than 40 per cent of low income renters are in housing stress,’ Ms Winzar says.

‘Unless we have a National Housing Strategy and the programs to support it, housing will still be on the front pages of the paper in 12 months’ time, when tonight’s tax cuts promised tonight hit people’s bank accounts. And it will still be a problem in 2024 when the 37 per cent tax bracket is eliminated.’

In 2017, the Treasurer laid the groundwork for a coherent, sustained effort to improve housing affordability, raising the hopes of a growing number of Australians who are finding themselves it increasingly difficult to afford a secure, affordable and appropriate place to call home.

‘We now need a National Housing Strategy to follow through,’ Ms Winzar says.

‘We need a National Strategy that commits to more fundamental tax reform to remove the distortions in the housing market. A Strategy that includes reform of Commonwealth Rent Assistance to reduce rental stress for private renters.  A Strategy that sets housing as a core component of infrastructure investment. A Strategy that commits to delivering 200,000 social and affordable dwellings over the next decade.

‘We need a National Housing Strategy which guides a sustained effort of all levels of government to fix housing affordability, especially for those on low and moderate incomes. Because being able to afford somewhere to live is more important than a generic tax cut,’ Ms Winzar says.


Encourage survey participation

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) 2018 National Social Housing Survey (NSHS) has been distributed to a randomly selected group of community housing tenants and members are encouraged, through their communications, to impress upon them the importance of participating.

Whilst organisations won’t know if any of their tenants have been selected for the survey, the AIHW has asked that they still ensure tenants know the surveys are legitimate and important: the data collected helps inform service improvements to social housing programs and is used for national reporting purposes.

Selected tenants will have received a pre-approval letter that advises them to expect the survey. A  follow up letter includes the survey, which they can complete online.

The AIHW has also requested that community housing organisations refrain from running their own surveys between mid-April and June to avoid confusing tenants.

The 2018 NSHS will collect information from a sample of tenants in social housing, including community housing tenants, from all states and territories. Community housing tenants who are selected to participate in the 2018 NSHS will receive the survey by mail. Information collected from community housing tenants will include:

  • tenants’ satisfaction with current housing and housing – related services
  • tenants’ housing histories
  • tenants’ need for, and ability to access, other community and health services, and
  • demographic data about the tenant and their household.

The NSHS will also include tenants in Public Housing, State Owned and Managed Indigenous Housing and, for the first time in 2018, will include tenants in Indigenous Community Housing in Queensland.

Some of this year’s survey results will be included in the Productivity Commission’s annual Report on Government Services in January 2019, with the rest to be released in March/April 2019.

The last NSHS was held 2016. Click here for the 2016 results.



PM has run out of excuses to walk away from remote housing funding

Queensland’s peak body for the housing and homelessness sector, Q Shelter, has called on the Prime Minister to step up and provide Commonwealth funding for remote housing in Queensland.

Q Shelter’s Executive Director, Leone Crayden, said that the PM had run out of excuses to fund a new National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing (NPRH) now that the Queensland Government had announced a $1.08 billion funding commitment for remote housing.

“The Commonwealth has used every excuse they can to walk away from funding NPRH, but the facts remain the same – Queensland’s delivered housing on time, on budget, and exceeded local Aboriginal employment targets.” Ms Crayden said.

Ms Crayden said that the Prime Minister’s own report into the program last year praised state governments for exceeding their targets in delivering new homes, refurbishing older houses, and providing employment opportunities for local communities.

Ms Crayden said that investment in this housing was providing employment to young people in remote communities through a training and skills program and was crucial in achieving targets for “Closing the Gap” on Indigenous disadvantage.

Ms Crayden stressed that despite this success, the job was far from over in addressing housing need in remote communities.

“The Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, justified walking away from NPRH by arguing that the states needed to have skin in the game when it came to remote housing.”

“Well, the Queensland Government has also now publicly committed more than $1b toward remote housing, so it’s time to see a similar commitment from the Commonwealth.”

“We’re calling on the PM to not walk away from funding remote housing. It’s time to pick up the phone, make a deal, and finish the job together.”

Click  to read QShelter’s position paper on this issue.