In a historic move for the state, Queensland has established an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak housing body that will be a guiding force to help advocate for First Nations people.
Making the announcement on National Sorry Day, Minister for Communities and Housing Leeanne Enoch said the establishment of the peak body is a critical step in ensuring First Nations peoples are at the forefront of decision making.
“While the Federal Government has walked away from its responsibility to fund remote Indigenous housing, the Palaszczuk Government is continuing to work alongside First Nations people to address housing outcomes,” Minister Enoch said.
“As a peak body, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Queensland will advocate for the sector and work with government to improve outcomes for First Nations people’s housing.
“The new peak body will represent the Indigenous housing sector’s interests, providing advocacy and connection to government.
“Their extensive knowledge and geographically diverse backgrounds will provide unique insights into the housing challenges and opportunities for communities across Queensland.
Minister Enoch said the Palaszczuk Government was committed to working towards a path to treaty or treaties in this state.
“And this involves elevating the voices of First Nations peoples.
“Establishing this peak body builds on our Government’s commitment to addressing some of the unique challenges First Nations people face in accessing appropriate sustainable housing.
“This group will continue to be a guiding force, working with the sector to deliver a program of work including workforce development initiatives and building organisational capacity.”
In 2018, when the Federal Government refused to continue the 50-year-old National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing, the Palaszczuk Government stepped in and announced a $40 million Remote Interim Capital program.
“The Federal Government has vacated this space,” Minister Enoch said.
“But, we are taking action. Under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Action Plan 2019-2023, we are investing $5.5 million to establish this housing body to deliver improved housing outcomes for people in urban, regional and remote communities across Queensland.”
Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford said the new housing body would represent the housing concerns of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and provide advocacy and a direct connection to government.
“This new organisation will work with the sector to deliver a program of work including workforce development initiatives and building organisational capacity,” Minister Crawford said.
“They will also be a valuable channel for conversations between First Nations peoples, communities and government.
“As we head into Reconciliation Week, this announcement earmarks another opportunity for our state to work towards a path to treaty or treaties,” Mr Crawford said.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Queensland CEO Neil Willmett said housing providers now have a peak body that will advocate for them in Brisbane and Canberra.
“Today, everyone wins. The Queensland Government wins because they will have a trusted partner and importantly, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community wins because we will fight to address their housing needs,” Mr Willmett said
“By working in partnership with others our organisation seeks to find new solutions and set new standards in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community housing in Queensland.
“We understand that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing challenges are complex and that they cannot be solved by a single organisation and will partner with like-minded organisations to have a common goal and make the best use of collective expertise.”
Media Release/ Minister for Communities and Housing, Minister for Digital Economy and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch