State Budget housing crisis response excludes Aboriginal Victorians
The Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Forum (AHHF) and Aboriginal Housing Victoria (AHV) are deeply disappointed by the lack of funding for vital programs to support Aboriginal housing outcomes in the Victorian State Budget.
While the Treasurer touted the Budget as “the largest whole of government Aboriginal Affairs investment on record”, it has failed to address the most pressing issue facing Aboriginal Victorians – the ever-deepening housing and homelessness crisis which disproportionately impacts the state’s First Peoples.
The Government said it was making a “$475 million investment in our First Peoples”, yet virtually none of this investment will tackle the worsening rates of Aboriginal homelessness and housing instability in this state by building new, desperately-needed housing stock and supporting programs such as the tried and tested More Than a Landlord (MTAL).
“MTAL ensures Aboriginal people have access to culturally safe tenancy support that helps them to sustain their housing and support them on their pathway to housing independence. The safety and stability of a secure home keeps our people in school, work and in touch with community,” AHHF Chair Darren Smith said.
“A funding snub to this program is a snub to the ongoing empowerment of Aboriginal Victorians through housing. Having a home is central to closing the gap.”
As 2023 Senior Australian of the Year and social justice campaigner Tom Calma AO states, “We can also not accept the failure of government to resources programs properly. A plan that is not adequately funded to meet its outcomes cannot be considered an effective plan”.
Seventeen per cent of Victoria’s Aboriginal population sought homelessness assistance last year alone – this is a great source of shame for this state.
MTAL has delivered tangible life outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians who face more discrimination than any other group in the housing system. In the last year, AHV has supported more than 100 Aboriginal Victorians through MTAL to achieve and sustain their tenancies.
The Government’s own evaluation of MTAL found Aboriginal-led, strength-based programs were “much better at increasing client engagement and improving outcomes for individuals and their communities compared to non-Indigenous-led programs”.
For the Government to say it supports the delivery of the AHHF’s Mana-na worn-tyeen maar-takoort: Every Aboriginal Person Has a Home framework to end Aboriginal homelessness, it must continue its funding of new housing for Aboriginal Victorians and culturally safe tenancy support programs – otherwise their words are empty.