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The Indigenous housing crisis

The Indigenous housing crisis

Reflecting on Indigenous housing and the progress that needs to be made.

Many of us recently acknowledged NAIDOC Week – a nationwide celebration held during the first week of July each year (Sunday to Sunday).

The week provides us an opportunity to recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Most importantly, in line with this year’s theme of “Get Up, Stand Up, Show Up”, it is a platform for us to advocate for true progress – whether it’s environmental, cultural and heritage protections, Constitutional reform, a comprehensive process of truth-telling, working towards treaties, or calling out racism.

The housing dilemma

It’s widely known that Australia is going through a housing crisis. More than 116,000 Australians are homeless on any given night across the country, while another 1.5 million live in serious housing stress.

And unfortunately, Indigenous Australians are historically over-represented among people who are homeless and those seeking assistance with housing.

The ABS 2016 Census showed that Indigenous Australians accounted for more than one-fifth (23%) of the homeless population nationally, despite representing less than 5% of the population.

And according to the 2014–15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS), 29% of Indigenous Australians aged 15 and over had been homeless at some time in their life.

Further, 2019–20 Specialist Homelessness Services data showed that:

  • Around 71,600 Indigenous Australians received SHS support.
  • Indigenous Australians made up 27% of all SHS clients (AIHW 2020).
  • More than half (53%, or almost 38,000) of Indigenous SHS clients were aged under 25 compared with 41% (79,800) of non-Indigenous clients (AIHW 2020).

The importance of secure housing cannot be understated. Without this stability, the social exclusion and disadvantage experienced by Indigenous Australians is further compounded.

Proposed reform

Anthony Albanese’s Labor Government has pledged to build 30,000 social and affordable houses over five years through its $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund.

Notably, within the first five years of this initiative, $200 million has been committed to the repair, maintenance and improvements of housing in remote Indigenous communities.

Housing Minister Julie Collins has also recently led a forum with her state and territory colleagues to discuss national housing and homelessness strategies – the first of its kind in five years.

Looking forward

By virtue of our role in the property ecosystem, at PEXA, we work to house people.

Our commitment to tackle homelessness through the creation of more sustainable and affordable housing, together with Homes for Homes, is a natural extension of this purpose.

It’s for this reason that we’re also extremely passionate about the housing gap being closed for Indigenous Australians.

It’s our hope that these measures being introduced, in tandem with further collaboration will help contribute to advances being made for the Indigenous community.

And in the wake of this NAIDOC Week and as we move into FY23, we’ll continue to raise awareness of these issues and advocate for progress.

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