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Jim Beam &
FEDERAL and Northern Territory
Ministers have been asked to visit
the Barkly to discuss Aboriginal
housing in Elliott and Newcastle Wa-
The Barkly Regional Council has invited
the Federal Minister for Indigenous Af-
fairs, Senator Nigel Scullion and the NT
Government Minister for Housing and Lo-
cal Government and Community Services,
Bess Price, to talk to community members
about the desperate state of housing at the
Gurungu and Wilyuku town camps and
Councillor Bob Bagnall says Elliott has
been forgotten by government.
“Many houses are over 30 years old with
80 per cent past their economic life,” he said.
“No new stock has been built for more
than 15 years.
“There has been minimal maintenance and
upgrades to houses in Elliott and Marlinja
and as a result many houses are now con-
sidered unfit for living.”
Federal Member for Lingiari Warren
Snowdon agrees that housing stock is well
and truly passed its use-by date.
“I am also concerned that young married
couples, often with children, have no op-
portunity to have a dwelling of their own
and are compelled to live with up to 20
family members in old and decrepit three-
bedroomed houses,” he said.
“Severe issues of overcrowding exacerbate
the wear and tear on the houses and are con-
tributing to poor health outcomes, especially
for children and the elderly.
“The time to act is now and Senator Scul-
lion and Minister Price need to get off their
backsides and assist these communities
address their desperate housing situation.”
To better understand the size of the prob-
lem, the Northern Territory Government is
exploring funding for a scoping study that
will take into account the cost of renewal
and maintenance for the properties that are
past their useful life.
At a meeting held by BRC last week,
President Barb Shaw and Councillors Bob
Bagnall and Ray Aylett met with representa-
tives of the Federal and Northern Territory
governments, the Northern Land Council
(NLC) and a delegation of residents to
discuss issues of housing and the need for
BRC, as the current service provider, re-
ceives funding for maintenance of houses
from the NT Government’s Department of
Local Government and Community Ser-
vices, however, this is rationalised at around
$2500-$3000 per house.
“Given the state of housing in north and
south camps this is little more than a band
aid,” said Cllr Bagnall.
Cllr Bagnall said that quotes obtained by
BRC a couple of years ago itemised basic
urgent repairs for up to $46,000.
“It must be said that most of these houses
are at the end of life. At post 20-year con-
struction in the NT with materials that are
not durable, most are beyond economic
repair,” he said.
Leanne Evans, Senior Director of Home-
lands and Outstations, Department of Local
Government and Community Services, told
residents at last week’s meeting that there
is no funding for new houses on Aboriginal
communities anywhere in the NT and that
the NT Government is not looking to lease
in any new communities.
Of the $20 million received annually by the
NT Government, this must be spread over
more than 500 homelands and outstations
including town camps, leaving very little
for each dwelling.
Andre Burgess, Senior Advisor, Depart-
ment of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, also
confirmed there was no funding for housing,
outlining how there had been no negotiations
in Elliott as the area is not on the Federal
Government’s Remote Housing Plan.
At last week’s meeting President Shaw
outlined proposals from the three levels of
government to give Elliott residents an in-
dication of how the crisis could be resolved.
The NT Government has agreed to look
for money to fund a condition report on the
houses and the Federal and Territory Gov-
ernments along with the NLC have commit-
ted to working with the community and other
levels of government to find new solutions.
To immediately assist with the situation,
BRC proposes to increase capacity by work-
ing with the Remote Jobs and Communi-
ties Program (RJCP) to discuss funding a
position of a housing/environmental officer
within the community.
Politicians asked to help
solve Elliott housing crisis
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