Work to be done to close Aboriginal housing gap

Aboriginal Victorians are missing out on the human right to adequate housing and on the long term social and economic benefits of home ownership more than any other group in Victoria.A desire to understand why this is the case, and how to change it, provided the impetus for the very successful Victorian Aboriginal Housing & Homelessness Summit held last week.

As convenor, Aboriginal Housing Victoria (AHV) consulted with Aboriginal and mainstream services about the development of a housing and homelessness framework. The statistics painted a bleak picture with 18.4 per cent of Aboriginal Victorians receiving homeless services as compared to 1.8 per cent of all Victorians; only 43 per cent of Aboriginal Victorians are home owners compared to 68 per cent of the general population, and 1,438 new social housing is needed for Aboriginal people by 2021.

The impact of these statistics were intensified by the personal stories of racism and blatant discrimination suffered by so many of the delegates.

CHIA Vic looks forward to working with AHV and the Aboriginal co-ops to look at how we can support these small regional and rural organisations to operate successful housing programs with training in tenancy management and assistance to drive the costs down for tenants through energy efficiency measures.

Also, over the coming months we hope to undertake a project to improve Aboriginal people’s access to and outcomes in the community housing sector by embedding Aboriginal inclusion, accountability and monitoring in all aspects of community housing. The project will take a ‘rights based’ approach, which places Aboriginal Victorians and their communities firmly at the centre of community housing policies and practices.

An Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework for Victoria

In a first for Victoria, the Government has recognised the need for a comprehensive and cohesive response to the housing stress experienced by Aboriginal Victorians.

Aboriginal Housing Victoria has advocated long and hard for the development of an Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework and in the spirit of self-determination the government has agreed that Aboriginal Housing Victoria lead this work.

The Victorian Aboriginal community is strong in its culture and identity but colonisation and dispossession have had long lasting and far reaching effects. A lack of policy effort and investment in housing has resulted in very poor outcomes and progress towards closing the gap has been very slow in many areas.

We are pleased to announce that Professor Kerry Arabena, who is the Chair of Indigenous Health Equity at Melbourne University, will Chair a Steering Committee to guide work on the Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework.

Professor Arabena says, ‘This work is critical for supporting our families to achieve health and wellbeing, and for creating intergenerational opportunities that enable people to live happy, fulfilling and meaningful lives.

‘We are committed to self-determination and often this relates to people having not only a house, but a home from which they can feel safe, loved, protected and supported.

‘We will be ensuring that a wide range of stakeholders have input into the development of this framework. We will be holding a Summit early next year to provide ways for all levels of government, those in community controlled and nongovernment organisations and tenants to work to support the aspirations of householders.

‘This way of working, of privileging the voice of tenants and for all of us to respond in the ways they want, when they want, is very powerful. The tenants can also then be supported in the uptake of their responsibility to ensure the houses become homes and that families are able to do more than survive, rather thrive and flourish.’

The framework will take a rights-based approach and will structure its work around:
• people’s housing needs across their life course
• the programs and supports needed to achieve improved housing outcomes
• the capacity and capability of service and housing providers to deliver on objectives.

We know that stable, safe and secure housing is the foundation for successful investments in education, training, employment, health, justice and family violence.

Homelessness, social housing, private rental and home ownership all need to be addressed if housing outcomes are to improve. In the absence of an integrated approach, Aboriginal Victorians will continue to be subject to piecemeal initiatives, major gaps in program offerings, and lost opportunities to build long-term sustainable housing outcomes.

We are determined to break out of the cycle of housing disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal Victorians. We think we can do it.

We would also like to thank CHIA Vic for supporting and advocating for the development of an Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework.

Please visit the Aboriginal Housing Victoria website for further details or contact AHV.

-article courtesy of AHV

Your invite to NAIDOC celebrations

Aboriginal Housing Victoria (AHV) invites you to help celebrate NAIDOC week, and the final round of title transfers of properties from the Victorian government to AHV.

This is a significant event for Aboriginal Victorians but also for the broader community; celebrating the transfer and the vision of our Elders for Aboriginal Victorians to own and manage their social housing.

The NAIDOC event will be held tomorrow at the Collingwood Children’s farm.

Download the invitation