Major stakeholders are coming together to build new solutions for Aboriginal housing. Source: AAP
Nine out of 10 people experiencing homelessness in the Northern Territory are Aboriginal.
In an attempt to solve the housing crisis, Aboriginal Housing Northern Territory is hosting a three-day conference from Tuesday.
The group’s chief executive Skye Thompson said Indigenous people deserved sustainable long-term housing solutions.
“We have got a lot of work to do, we want long term investment in our Aboriginal-controlled community organisations to deliver the housing-related services to Aboriginal people,” she told AAP.
“We know that they do it best for our people.”
Organisers are expecting about 200 delegates from around Australia to attend.
Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney and assistant minister Malarndirri McCarthy will address the conference. So too will heads of First Nations agencies, directors of corporations that serve Aboriginal homelands and community members.
Senator McCarthy said thousands of First Nations people lived in overcrowded and run-down housing – with major impacts on health, economic and social outcomes.
She said the Albanese government was delivering on its commitment to provide a funding boost of $100 million for housing and essential services on Northern Territory homelands as well as negotiating a new remote housing agreement with the territory.
“It’s clear that if housing is neglected in remote communities, those issues can compound and come into major centres including Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs,” Senator McCarthy said.
“Our government is prioritising remote housing and homelands which is key to also achieving better outcomes in health, education and quality of life.”
The inaugural conference will canvass homelessness, overcrowded houses, impoverished homelands and town camps, of which there are 40 across the Top End.
The conference will also focus on transitioning to Aboriginal community-controlled housing and economic independence.
Steve Roberts is a commercial manager at a construction company operated by the Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation.
Mr Roberts said housing issues such as overcrowding had ramifications for employment and economic growth.
He said people often addressed overcrowding by sharing beds through sleep shifts, which prevented employees from getting the sleep they needed to operate equipment.
Housing in the NT is a complex, multi-layered approach that requires various solutions.
“The urban solution, the regional solution, the remote solution and the homelands solution are four different solutions,” Mr Roberts said.
But he was optimistic about the conference.
“Change is in the air,” he said.
“With good intentions, everyone can get together and you can come up with something that actually takes into consideration the way people live, not the way that it’s viewed by someone in an office down south.”