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Federal govt signs Northern Territory housing deal

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The Federal Government has agreed to a 10-year, $4 billion Northern Territory housing deal that hopes to halve the number of overcrowded homes in remote areas.
Northern Territory housing deal

The Federal Government has agreed to a 10-year, $4 billion Northern Territory housing deal that hopes to halve the number of overcrowded homes in remote areas.

The agreement will build as many as 2,700 new homes in remote First Nations communities in the Northern Territory. It could also help meet Indigenous housing objectives under pre-existing agreements.

The agreement will be jointly funded by the Federal Government and NT Government.

Northern Territory housing

The highest levels of overcrowding in Australia were found in the NT, where 54% of houses in remote communities were overcrowded according to a 2022 National Audit Office report.

The Australian and NT governments agreed to a $550 million plan in 2019 to build more homes in remote NT. Most funding was to deliver at least 1950 new bedrooms.

By September 2021, only 19% of bedrooms had been delivered. The housing target was met, behind schedule, in December 2023.

New deal

The new deal aims to build up to 270 new homes each year for 10 years.

It’s been backed by all four of the NT’s Land Councils, which help First Nations people negotiate deals for the use of their land with governments and businesses.

New homes will be specified for the needs of particular remote communities. However, modelling for the agreement is generally based on the construction of three-bedroom homes, given that many families live in remote communities.

Closing the gap

The deal also hopes to address a Closing the Gap target aiming to have 88% of First Nations people living in appropriately-sized (not overcrowded) homes by 2031.

About 81% of First Nations people weren’t living in overcrowded housing across Australia in 2021. While this was an improvement from 2016, the 2031 goal is currently not on track to be met.

About 94% of non-Indigenous Australians live in appropriately-sized dwellings.

PM’s statement

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said ensuring a secure home was a “precondition for a successful community”. Albanese said the deal would empower First Nations communities across the NT.

He added the agreement will provide meaningful work opportunities for First Nations people in remote communities.

Albanese and his Cabinet (senior members of government) will meet in the NT tomorrow. Further funding announcements to support the NT are expected over the coming days.

Opposition response

Acting Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians Perin Davey said the Coalition would embrace “any action taken to address Indigenous disadvantage where it exists”.

However, Davey said the government announcement lacked detail. She called for a formal audit of government spending to ensure funding is directed to effective programs.

“Aboriginal Australians living in the Northern Territory have been crying out for help… we need to make sure they are getting the programs they need, and the funding is getting there.”

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