The Victorian Government’s Housing Statement is welcome but needs to legislate targets to meet Aboriginal housing and homelessness demand
The Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Forum (AHHF) welcomes the State Government’s Housing Statement, but urges more ambition to meet Aboriginal housing and homelessness need.
Today, when the Victorian Premier promised to build 800,000 new homes in Victoria over the next decade, he said nothing was more important than having somewhere to live.
For many Aboriginal Victorians, even a place to call home is out of reach, as they access homelessness services at 10 times the rate of non-Indigenous people, and face ongoing discrimination in the housing market.
If the Victorian Government wants to stay true to its promise to implement Mana-na Woorn-tyeen Maar-Takoort, it must pledge that 10% of all new social housing built in the decade ahead will be allocated to Aboriginal people including in priority precincts.
“We want to see our people housed close to transport, roads, hospitals and schools, and where they already live – because housing is central to closing the gap,” AHHF Chair and Aboriginal Housing Victoria (AHV) CEO Darren Smith said.
The Victorian Government's Statement makes no new commitments to expanding Aboriginal housing stock, despite the Victorian Government’s commitment to a 10% target for new funding allocations towards Aboriginal social housing. This truth was acknowledged by targets included in the Big Housing Build – but meaningful action needs to be taken again.
The Premier announced the Government would knock down and rebuild 44 public high-rise towers by 2051 to house three times as many people in the future – this is the long term planning we need.
However, Mr Smith highlighted that many Aboriginal people live in the towers, and it is the AHHF, and AHV, who have the experience and expertise to support the Government and Homes Victoria to implement their plans.
“We want Housing Minister Collin Brooks and Homes Victoria to invite the AHHF – which is made up of 37 Aboriginal member organisations from across Victoria – to be included in the whole process from start to finish,” he said.
Mr Smith said for a unified, strong, financially viable, self-determining Aboriginal housing sector, we need ongoing, legislated commitments to provide certainty to Aboriginal people.
“We call on the Government to embed a target to allocate 10% of new social housing to Aboriginal people, to create real, generational change,” he said.
“Aboriginal people are overrepresented in the social housing sector more broadly and while we applaud the ambition of the Government’s plan, it won’t fix the Aboriginal housing crisis without our help or our vision.
“Aboriginal homelessness in Victoria has grown more than 40 per cent in the past five years – no more empty promises – we need an initial pledge to build a minimum of 300 houses a year in Victoria for Aboriginal people because inaction will cost us all.”