Keynote Address: Aboriginal Housing Masterclass

On Tuesday 16th May, NSW Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) and Australasian Housing Institute (AHI) held an Aboriginal Housing Masterclass for sector professionals. Danielle Donegan – Assistant Secretary, Housing Policy, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet – commenced proceedings with an illuminating keynote address. Following is a transcript of her presentation.

I would like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the Gatigil land on which we meet today, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present. I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here today.

Importance of housing

Housing is fundamental to the welfare of all Australians. The Commonwealth, with states, are committed to Closing the Gap in Indigenous disadvantage, and Indigenous Australians having access to appropriate housing is an essential part of this. Housing is essential for a good quality of life, and provides shelter, privacy, safety and security. It is crucial for increasing school attendance, adults achieving in work, and making communities safer and healthier.

Commonwealth role

From a social perspective, housing promotes and improves employment, educational and health outcomes. From an economic perspective, it is a driver of participation and productivity, as well as consumption, investment and savings in the economy.

In 2016 and 2017, the Commonwealth will provide $1.3 billion to states and territories for housing assistance and homelessness services. In addition, the Commonwealth supports more than 1.3 million individuals and families by providing around $4.5 billion in Commonwealth Rent Assistance. This is a significant investment – but is it an effective investment?

Housing outcomes have failed to improve for many Australians, including people from low income households, Indigenous Australians and the homeless. The housing aspirations of younger Australians and first homebuyers have also been severely tested, particularly in our major cities.

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