It is an Australian Government priority to provide more and better housing for Indigenous people in the Northern Territory and improve current tenancy arrangements.
The Government will invest $813 million in remote Indigenous housing and infrastructure services in the Northern Territory. This funding consists of $793 million over the next four years for housing projects and related services under a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Australian and Northern Territory Governments.
A further $20 million in funding was announced in February 2008 by the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs for a program to refurbish houses in six Indigenous communities.
This housing expenditure is not part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER), announced by the former Australian Government on 21 June 2007, but will contribute significantly to its aims.
On 12 April 2008, the Australian and Northern Territory Governments jointly announced the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program (SIHIP). SIHIP will use $547 million of the $813 million committed by the Australian Government, with the Northern Territory Government contributing another $100 million.
SIHIP will fund capital works in 73 targeted communities and urban living areas. The roll out of SIHP will improve the living conditions of up to 80 per cent of Indigenous people in the targeted communities.
SIHP will provide:
- about 750 new houses including new subdivisions
- over 230 new houses to replace houses to be demolished
- over 2500 housing upgrades
- essential infrastructure to support new houses
- improvements to living conditions in town camps.
Of the $547 million for SIHP, $420 million will be directed to 16 high-need communities for major capital works. This will include building new homes and upgrades to existing dwellings. More than $124 million of refurbishments will be funded in 57 other Indigenous communities. A further $98 million will be set aside for town camps and urban living areas, and $5 million for a small number of existing housing programs.
New property and tenancy management arrangements are currently being introduced for public housing in 64 Northern Territory Indigenous communities where the Australian Government holds five-year leases. The Northern Territory Government will oversee the administration of the new arrangements, which will be based on their Remote Public Housing Management Framework.
After a transition period, the houses will be managed in a similar way to other public housing properties. This means there will be:
- waiting lists based on need
- effective maintenance and upkeep procedures
- support services to ensure that tenants understand their rights and responsibilities and can meet their obligations, including paying rent and maintaining their home.