The Building Blocks (Continued)
Healthy homes are the basis of healthy lives. They provide children and families with a safe and healthy place to grow, learn and thrive. Improved housing is a central strategy of the Government in achieving the targets for Closing the Gap in Indigenous disadvantage. It is also critical to our work to build Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory.
2012‑13 Budget initiatives to close the gap in housing
Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory — Housing
The Government has now built over 600 new houses in the NT and rebuilt and refurbished some 2,100 more. We are working with communities to agree voluntary leases over social housing and Commonwealth assets to ensure major reforms to property and tenancy management continue in remote communities. This Budget provides a further $283.5 million for two crucial elements to continue this work.
Improving existing housing and accelerating the construction of new houses
The Australian Government is investing an additional $230.4 million to improve existing housing in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. This commitment is on top of the $1.7 billion we are already providing for housing over ten years, some of which has been brought forward so we can build more houses sooner.
The Government is investing a further $53.1 million on Healthy Homes in the Northern Territory. Many buildings in remote Northern Territory communities contain asbestos. The Government is providing funding to remove asbestos containing material, including in houses scheduled for demolition so that new housing can be built.
Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory — Funding for Homelands and Outstations
Approximately 9,000 people live in more than 500 small, remote and dispersed communities across the Northern Territory, known as homelands or outstations.
Since 2007, the Australian Government has provided the Northern Territory Government with $20 million each year to support the delivery of municipal and essential services to these communities. We have also made an unprecedented investment in facilities and services for people who choose to live in or regularly visit outstations and homelands through a range of programs and financial assistance, like health services, boarding facilities, housing maintenance and economic development.
Under the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory package, outstations and homelands in the Northern Territory will benefit from a $221.4 million investment (including $15 million from the Northern Territory Government in 2012‑13) to support the continuation of basic essential and municipal services over ten years as part of the Stronger Futures package. The investment will include $206.4 million from the Australian Government to provide more certainty for Aboriginal people living on outstations and homelands.
This investment will help supply outstations and homelands with access to power, water and sewerage and road maintenance. The funding will also support garbage collection, dog control programs and operational costs for organisations that provide municipal and essential services.
Municipal and Essential Services Program
Beyond the Northern Territory, the Government is providing $43.4 million in the 2012‑13 Budget to support the continuation of municipal and essential services to approximately 38,000 people in almost 350 remote Indigenous communities. This funding will supplement state and local governments in Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania to deliver basic services including power, water and sewerage services, garbage collection and disposal, internal road maintenance, landscaping and dust control, animal and environmental health and organisational governance.
The Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments recently agreed to work together to progress genuine reform in this critical area.
Torres Strait Major Infrastructure Program Stage 5
The Government is providing $21.2 million to work with the Queensland Government on a range of environmental health infrastructure projects in the Torres Strait related to water supply and reticulation, sanitation and wastewater, community roads and drainage, and serviced housing lots. Funding will also support new housing projects and help reduce overcrowding.
Previous projects have improved health outcomes in the region, with marked decreases in water and hygiene–related diseases. The program supports Indigenous economic development through local employment, training and business opportunities.
Helping Indigenous families to own their own home
The Australian Government supports Indigenous people to have access to the same housing options available to other Australians, including owning a home.
The Australian Government will assist up to an additional 545 Indigenous Australians to buy their own home in established housing markets over the next four years by merging the existing funding from the Home Ownership on Indigenous Land Program — which provides home loans and additional assistance in remote areas — and the Home Ownership Program — which provides home loans mainly in urban and regional areas, into a single Indigenous Home Ownership program.
The new program, to be managed by Indigenous Business Australia (IBA), will continue the existing range of support for people who cannot obtain finance from mainstream lenders. This will make best use of the significant investment the Australian Government provides for home loans to help meet home ownership demand across Australia while prioritising access for people seeking to move into home ownership on Indigenous land.
This will ensure we can meet demand for home ownership in remote Indigenous communities as states and the Northern Territory address their responsibility to resolve the barriers faced by people in remote communities such as lack of appropriate land tenure and individually surveyed and titled housing lots.
This initiative will assist approximately 490 people who are currently on the waiting list for a home loan with IBA and cannot obtain finance from mainstream lenders.
To date the Australian Government has supported over 15,000 Indigenous households to move into home ownership through concessional home loans and support provided by IBA.
The Australian Government also provides significant support to help Indigenous people build financial literacy skills. These services are available to people wishing to move into home ownership.
These new initiatives will improve the effectiveness of our existing investments.
The National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing is making an unprecedented investment of $5.5 billion over ten years from 2008‑09 to 2017‑18 to tackle the very poor housing conditions in many remote areas.
Indigenous housing is an important sub–set of wider housing reform. The National Affordable Housing Agreement is working to provide all Australians with affordable, safe and sustainable housing. Through the National Affordable Housing Specific Purpose Payment, the Australian Government provides funding to the states and territories annually for housing programs to address supply and affordability issues for all Australians, with a focus on disadvantaged citizens. In 2012‑13, states and territories will receive $1.266 billion in funding through the National Affordable Housing Specific Purpose Payment.
At the end of February this year, close to 17,300 new homes had been delivered to vulnerable Australians under the $5.6 billion Social Housing Initiative, the single largest investment in social housing ever undertaken by an Australian Government. Of the nearly 15,300 dwellings with tenant data at that date, more than 2,000 (or around 13 per cent) were tenanted by Indigenous Australians. The target of 19,600 homes is expected to be met in 2012.
The Remote Indigenous Energy Program (RIEP) announced in the 2011 Mid–Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, is a $40 million initiative and part of the Australian Government's Clean Energy Future Package. RIEP will support smaller remote Indigenous communities reliant on diesel generators for power to transition to a clean energy future by installing renewable energy systems. From July 2011 to June 2016, RIEP will install renewable energy systems in up to 50 smaller remote communities across South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland. To complement the installation of renewable energy systems, service providers will provide community members with energy efficiency education and training in basic system maintenance. RIEP will provide employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians.
The Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program (AACAP) is a joint initiative between FaHCSIA and the Australian Army. Each year AACAP delivers a $6 million project to remote communities in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia or the Northern Territory. The AACAP site for 2012‑13 is Fregon in Western Australia. Each project has a construction component, a health component and a training component. The construction component focuses on the provision of environmental health infrastructure such as housing, water, sewerage and electrical services as well as improving access to primary health care facilities by construction or upgrading roads and airfields. The health component focuses on augmenting existing community medical, dental and veterinary programs. The training component focuses on specific skills required within the community and includes courses such as construction and building maintenance, vehicle and small engine maintenance, welding, concreting and cooking.
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