New housing agreement to empower Aboriginal people

On 20 June 2024 the landmark 10-year partnership agreement for remote housing in the Northern Territory was signed by AHNT, the 4 land councils and the Territory and Australian governments. AHNT released the following statement.

Aboriginal housing sector leaders gathered today in Milikapiti on the Tiwi Islands to sign a landmark 10-year partnership agreement. Aboriginal Housing Northern Territory (AHNT), the Australian and Northern Territory governments and 4 land councils are all signatories. The agreement will embed Aboriginal voices in the design, delivery and evaluation of a $4 billion remote housing investment. A further $240 million over three years will improve housing and essential infrastructure on Aboriginal homelands; and $1 million will come to AHNT for modelling how community control would work.

Four women signing a document on a red patterned tablecloth in front of a new house at Binjari, NT

Skye Thompson, CEO of AHNT; Cherelle Wurrawilya, Chair of Anindilyakwa Land Council; Selena Uibo, Minister for Remote Housing and Homelands; and Linda Burney, Minister for Indigenous Australians, sign the agreement, while Senator Malarndirri McCarthy and Marion Scrymgour, federal Member for Lingiari look on.

The partnership agreement signals a pivot toward restoring Aboriginal self-determination in the remote housing system and transitioning control of Aboriginal housing to Aboriginal people and organisations. It follows strong leadership and advocacy from AHNT and the land councils and presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the remote housing and homelands system and empower Aboriginal people to take back control of every aspect of their housing, from siting and design through to tenancy management.

In the first year of the agreement, a strategic plan will map a transition of the housing sector to Aboriginal community control. That plan will set out steps to support and strengthen housing providers, engage associated Aboriginal enterprises and create training and employment opportunities for Aboriginal people.

Importantly, the agreement promises to explore the prospect of new housing on homelands after the initial 3-year program of urgent repairs and maintenance. AHNT CEO Skye Thompson said:

This agreement is a directive and an opportunity for governments to work toward Aboriginal leadership of Aboriginal housing in the NT and it will flex as needed to reduce overcrowding. That means significantly ramping up repairs and maintenance of remote community housing as well as (ultimately) building new housing on homelands. Our vision of Aboriginal housing in Aboriginal hands is coming to life – and I thank both governments and the land councils for your strong commitment to this shared goal.

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