NATIONAL Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Association Celebrates Historic Passage of Housing Future Fund Bill with Focus on First Nations Housing

14/09/2023 and Emma Shumack Email:

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Association (NATSIHA) warmly applauds the recent passage of the Housing Australia Future Fund Bill, a landmark moment in Australian housing policy. NATSIHA commends the Albanese Government for this historic achievement, which signifies a turning point in addressing the housing needs of First Nations people.

“It’s time and about time,” emphasised Tom Slockee, Chair of NATSIHA. “NATSIHA welcomes the announcement of the Housing Australia Future Fund to get through parliament. First Nation Housing must be prioritised as our people are desperate for housing.”

Tom Slockee continued, “NATSIHA says thanks to the Labor government for their leadership and resilience, and The Greens for their care for tenants and then agreeing for the HAFF to get legislated.”

Rob Macfarlane, CEO of NATSIHA, added, “We are pleased to note the recent agreement between the Government, the Greens, and crossbench to pass this bill, representing a significant milestone in our efforts to combat the housing crisis within First Nations communities. This funding boost holds the potential to bring about a direct and positive transformation in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals.

Rob further highlighted, ‘While we do welcome the overall $200 million increase for remote areas, it is crucial to underscore the urgent need for a clear commitment to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Housing, complete with agreed-upon percentage allocations. The urgency of the situation cannot be overstated, and immediate action is imperative.”

NATSIHA recognises the importance of effective implementation and will focus on advocating for genuine partnerships with community-controlled organisations to ensure that the Housing Australia Future Fund achieves its intended impact. NATSIHA is committed to working collaboratively with stakeholders to navigate the complexities of this historic initiative, improving housing conditions and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander People.

The $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund, central to this groundbreaking legislation, is poised to create a sustainable, ongoing source of funding for social and affordable rental housing, honouring the Government’s commitment to the Australian people. NATSIHA places a special emphasis on the allocation of resources within the fund that will address the pressing housing needs of First Nations communities.

Within the fund, $200 million is designated for the repair, maintenance, and improvement of housing in remote First Nations communities. NATSIHA recognises that this investment is vital to ensure that First Nations Australians living in remote areas have access to safe, secure, and culturally appropriate homes. This allocation is a significant step towards addressing the longstanding housing disparities faced by First Nations people living in remote communities.

Moreover, the Housing Australia Future Fund will allocate $100 million for crisis and transitional housing options for women and children impacted by family and domestic violence, including older women at risk of homelessness. NATSIHA acknowledges the importance of addressing these issues and welcomes the provision of support to some of the most vulnerable members of our community, a group that includes many First Nations women and children.

NATSIHA would like to express its gratitude to the Crossbench in the House of Representatives and the Senate, including the Greens, for their constructive engagement in the development and passage of this critical legislation. Their support ensures that more homes will be available for key workers, affordable housing options for Australian renters will increase, and those most in need, including First Nations people, will find suitable housing.

Zachariah Matysek, COO of NATSIHA commented “The Albanese Government’s $10 billion investment in social and affordable housing is welcomed news. While the initiative aims to address the affordable housing crisis and support vulnerable groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, there are still some questions to be answered about its execution. Nevertheless, if the initiative is implemented effectively through genuine partnerships with community-controlled organisations and peak bodies such as NATSIHA, there is potential to improve the living standards of our most vulnerable groups”.

Zachariah continued, “I remain hopeful through effective partnerships and genuine local decision making the delivery of the Housing Australia Future Fund will ensure more Australians have a safe and affordable place to call home.”

The Housing Australia Future Fund has garnered support from a wide array of stakeholders, including housing experts, community housing providers, and all state and territory Housing Ministers. This broad support reflects the consensus that addressing housing challenges, particularly those faced by First Nations people, is a shared responsibility across the nation.

In addition to the Housing Australia Future Fund, NATSIHA acknowledges the other elements of the Albanese Government’s ambitious housing reform agenda. These include the establishment of the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council, the renaming and streamlining of the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation to Housing Australia, and the implementation of various initiatives to boost the supply of rental housing and enhance support for renters.

NATSIHA believes that these measures collectively represent the most significant housing reforms in a generation and will play a crucial role in ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to safe, affordable, and culturally appropriate housing.

As we celebrate this historic moment, NATSIHA stands ready to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to ensure the successful implementation of these reforms. We also acknowledge the steps that this bill we make towards the Closing the Gap targets and acknowledge that access to safe and secure housing is a critical element in achieving these goals. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Government and other stakeholders to improve the housing conditions and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia.