NATSIHA calls for urgent action to address housing needs and First Nations empowerment following referendum outcome

20/02/2023 and For media inquiries, please contact:
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Association (NATSIHA) has mourned the saddening outcome of the recent referendum on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament. Despite the impassioned aspirations of our communities, the courteous invitation of First Nations peoples for Australians to actively participate in reconciliation, and the urgent imperative for progress, the referendum did not yield our desired result. Today, NATSIHA is calling for immediate and resolute action to address the acute needs of our people and to uphold the pledges of reconciliation. It is imperative that we focus our energies on bringing about meaningful change in strict accordance with the Priority Reforms outlined in the National Closing the Gap agreement. The government must commit to undertake comprehensive reform and foster the community-controlled sector.   “Aboriginal community-controlled organisations have demonstrated unyielding determination, always working with a steadfast focus on their goals. In the wake of the saddening referendum outcome, there is no room for complacency. We demand our nation’s unrelenting commitment to Closing the Gap. It is imperative that we rise to this occasion, throwing the full weight of our support behind these organisations deeply rooted within our communities. Their decades of hard work and dedication demand recognition and action. The time for bold, decisive steps is now. We demand immediate, meaningful support for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community Controlled organisations tirelessly working towards the outcomes our communities deserve. Anything less is unacceptable.” Tom Slockee, Chair of NATSIHA   The time has come for NATSIHA to assume responsibility for the Mandate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing in Australia. We are fully prepared to develop the National Strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing. To this end, we advocate for the allocation of an unequivocal 20% share of the Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) to be exclusively designated for the execution of this strategy, with NATSIHA as the trusted custodian of these funds. In line with this, we call for a complete suspension of all ongoing consultations pertaining to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues. We propose a comprehensive review process that involves the jurisdictional leads of each State and Territory to provide guidance on the way forward and establish suitable timelines for these actions. We call on the Minister for Indigenous Australians and the Albanese Government to back the First Nations sector and commit the $200 million dollars, the sole current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-focused government spend out of the HAFF to NATSIHA. Moving forward, we emphasise that all future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allocations and reforms in the housing sector should be carried out under the direct authority of NATSIHA as the National Peak Body for Housing in Australia. This move is crucial to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have a significant and direct influence on their housing needs and solutions. This move is essential to ensure that our communities have significant and direct influence on their housing needs and solutions. To ensure the effective functioning of the community-controlled sector, NATSIHA calls for financial support to fund all peaks nationally. This financial backing is necessary to empower these organisations and plays a critical role in strengthening the Community Controlled sector and this is in line with priority reform 2.   “We demand the authority and stewardship over the resources that are meant to uplift our communities. It’s time for a new era of accountability and progress, and we won’t settle for less.” Tom Slockee, Chair of NATSIHA   NATSIHA asserts its right to a seat at the Joint Council that advises on housing-related matters as the subject matter expert. We propose the establishment of a separate National Housing and Homeless Agreement that falls under the National Housing Strategy, with its implementation guided by NATSIHA. States and Territories must be held accountable for the funds they receive and their progress in meeting the Closing the Gap targets. Full transparency is needed to ensure that these resources are effectively used to address critical issues. It is time for greater oversight to create a more equitable and efficient future for all. We call for a reallocation of current housing investments to NATSIHA, ensuring that these funds are resourcefully repurposed to address the pressing needs without marginalising any stakeholders.  
“Funding for First Nation outcomes must be placed directly in the hands of First Nation communities. Empowerment and community control are non-negotiable keys to real progress.”
Rob Macfarlane, Chief Executive Officer of NATSIHA   NATSIHA remains unwavering in its commitment to drive transformation and tackle the housing emergency that is affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These actions are pivotal in achieving enduring solutions and enhancing the quality of life for our people.   About NATSIHA: The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Association (NATSIHA) is the peak body responsible for advocating for and addressing the housing needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia. NATSIHA is dedicated to community control, cultural empowerment, and meaningful change in the First Nations housing sector. As we work towards our mission, we envision a future where all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have housing that aligns with their diverse cultures and aspirations, thereby benefiting not only the individuals and communities we serve but all Australians.