AHV and Darebin City Council - Memorandum of Understanding
Darebin City Council has taken the lead across Victoria in signing a groundbreaking Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Aboriginal Housing Victoria (AHV). The MoU, under development for more than 18 months and signed in November 2022, commits to exploring rates concessions on all AHV-managed properties in Darebin. It also commits Council to exploring the availability of housing stock, and to working in partnership with AHV to increase the wellbeing, community participation and inclusion in Council’s services for people living in AHV-managed homes.
The Federal Government’s Closing the Gap Report identifies housing as one of the key socioeconomic outcomes important to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s rights, wellbeing and quality of life. Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney has commented previously on the role all levels of government must play. “The Closing the Gap architecture can only work when all parties are invested and there is a coordinated effort from all jurisdictions in partnership with First Nations Peoples,” Minister Burney says. With more than 1,500 rental properties across Victoria, AHV is the largest Aboriginal Registered Housing Agency in the country. In signing the MoU, AHV Chief Executive Officer Darren Smith reinforced the call for action and partnership with Aboriginal communities at all levels of government. “This agreement makes a significant step forward in establishing greater outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians at a local level,” Mr Smith said. “It sets a precedent which other councils across Victoria should aspire to. Darebin City Council has shown real leadership to other councils in its relationship with the local Aboriginal community.”
In the leadup to the MoU signing, in June 2022 Council voted unanimously to introduce rate concessions on all AHV properties, relating to the provision of affordable housing. This will play a significant part in supporting one of AHV’s key strategic targets of reducing Victorian Aboriginal homelessness by 10 per cent each year, over a 10-year period. In summing up Council’s commitment within the MoU, Cr Lina Messina, Mayor at the time of the MoU signing, put the call out to other councils. “In creating this MoU we listened to, and took the lead from the Darebin Aboriginal Advisory Committee,” Cr Messina said. “We hope that other Councils will follow suit in order to improve access to housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living right across the state.”
By Uncle Charles Pakana, a proud Aboriginal journalist working with Darebin Council to tell First Nations stories.