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#DontWalkAway - Live Blog

Last updated Monday 25 May 2018, 11 am

LGAQ launches #DontWalkAway Campaign and live blog

The LGAQ has launched a campaign to draw attention to the impact of the Government’s looming withdrawal from the long running National Partnership Alliance on Remote Housing program, which has provided jobs and shelter for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for a decade.

The indigenous housing program has invested $5.4 billion into ensuring sufficient housing for indigenous communities, where overcrowding is creating chronic social problems affecting health and education.
 
Yet the Government has signalled there will be no further money allocated to the program after this financial year.

READ THE RELEASE 

Add your voice to call on the Government to make sure this vital funding continues by using the hashtag #DontWalkAway across social media.

LGAQ writes to Federal members

LGAQ CEO Greg Hallam has written to Federal members asking them to consider the ramifications of cutting indigenous housing funding. 

See the letter below: 

Dear Federal member,

As you prepare to travel to Canberra next week, we strongly urge you to consider the social and economic consequences of not supporting continued long-term funding for Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander councils to build houses in their communities.

TheLGAQ and councils are frustrated with the Federal Government’s unwillingness to commit to any long-term funding and their deflection of any challenges by reference to “on-going negotiations with the State Government”.

Exacerbating this frustration is the position of the State, in which they deny any ongoing negotiations. Instead, continued reference is made to the tabling of their commitment to 1.08 billion dollars over 10 years, and a request to the Commonwealth to reciprocate with a similar long-term commitment.

The political argy-bargy has to stop - and leaders are speaking up. 

In the video below, Mayors from Indigenous communities explain why indigenous housing funding is so vital.  

 

 

Local residents, employers, and employees in these communities are facing an uncertain future after the current funding expires this year. The employment of more than 400 local indigenous people is on the line, including around 100 indigenous apprentices.

The good work this housing program has delivered to date in Queensland is not being recognised. The additional houses desperately needed to stop overcrowding need a clear funding commitment. More housing will build on the significant improvements in closing the gap already attained in these communities.

The absence of any further funding commitment will see many of these benefits decline.

The Commonwealth Government’s own independent review into the issue recommended further long-term Federal support.

This is what is at stake:

More than 400 local jobs including around 100 apprentices placed at risk with only a small proportionable to be diverted to alternative tasks. In these communities, few alternative jobs exist.


Significant economic losses and employment forneighbouring council communities who supply construction materials and associated professional support for housing construction (e.g. Cairns, Mt Isa, Townsville).


Negative social consequences associated with overcrowding and unemployment including less youth participation in education, rise in juvenile crime, rise in domestic and family violence, and a rise in general social unrest in the community.


Rise in negative health consequences associated with overcrowding.


Flow on social consequences forneighbouring communities due to the migration of job seekers. There is a corresponding increase in levels of homelessness and strain on housing.

Councils are in the process of preparing their budgets and need certainty around the future of this funding.

The Federal Government announced in their budget an investment of more than $500 million over 5 years for the Northern Territory. Queensland councils are seeking, at the very least, a similar long-term investment strategy. 

I remind you these North Queensland councils last month unanimously endorsed that this is currently the most important issue confronting these councils.

On behalf of Queensland councils and communities, I thank you for your consideration and support in this urgent matter.

Greg Hallam AM, CEO

Local Government Association of Qld

 

 

Statement from indigenous mayors 

Mayors and local government leaders of Queensland’s remote indigenous communities have vowed to increase pressure on the Turnbull Government not to walk away from ensuring a decent level of housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities.

A high-level meeting of indigenous councils in Cairns today resolved to continue pushing for a continuation of the National Partnership on Remote Indigenous Housing, saying anything less would reverse the gains made in reaching Closing the Gap targets in relation to health, justice, education and community well-being.

The meeting also resolved to push to end the exclusion of the communities of Yarrabah, Cherbourg and Torres Shire from national indigenous housing program funding.

The mayors rejected the notion that any organisation other than democratically elected local councils have access to national remote housing funding.

They also called for a guarantee that at last 80 percent of workers employed through the program be indigenous.

The meeting was attended by mayors and representatives of the following councils: Palm Island, Torres Strait Island Regional Council, Wujal Wujal, Napranum, Yarrabah, Pormpuraaw, Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council, Hopevale, Woorabinda, Mapoon, Kowanyama, Torres Shire and Cook Shire and hosted by Cairns Regional Council.

Senator Ketter addresses the Senate

Senator Ketter, ALP Deputy Opposition Whip made his position clear in his address to the Senate,  Thursday March 22. 

Senator Ketter: "I do want to add my voice today to those on our side of the chamber who are speaking up for some of the most disadvantaged in our community. I refer to First Nation People in remote communities, who are now wondering whether or not the Commonwealth is moving away from funding for remote indigenous Housing." 

 

WIN coverage

The remote housing crisis has featured on WIN News Cairns, featuring Palm Island Shire Council Mayor Alf Lacey and Torres Shire Council Mayor Vonda Malone on Wednesday, March 21.   

WIN News Cairns: REMOTE HOUSING CRISIS: North Queensland Indigenous leaders have spoken out, declaring the remote housing shortage has reached crisis point.

The federally-funded 5.4 billion Remote Housing Strategy will come to an end in June...

Local leaders say a new housing solution needs to be found, now.

On National Close the Gap Day, an open letter to the Prime Minister

Today on National Close the Gap Day, the Local Government Association of Queensland pays its respects to our great country's First Peoples. 

When so many other strategies have failed to ease the disadvantage, why is your Government walking away from a strategy that indigenous Queensland councils and its own review panel agree is delivering positive outcomes in indigenous employment, education participation, health and reductions in violence and crime? 

Read the full letter here. 

Katter questions PM's legacy

Bob Katter MP asked a powerful question of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during question time, Thursday 8 February 2018.

"The National Partnership on Remote Housing is already terminating now. Queensland, over
the 10 years, gave $660 million and Canberra $1,100 million.

"The LGAQ says there have been 400 jobs and apprenticeships and 1,500 new houses. Occupancy rates are still, abysmally, around 15 people per house. The Rudd-Abbott legacy was 1,500 homes.

"What do you want to be yours, Prime Minister?"

Response from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull:

"I just confirm that we are negotiating a new agreement for remote housing with the jurisdictions who remain part of the terminating program. It is very important."

Read the PM's full reponse here.

Debate continues 

Member for Oxley Milton Dick delivers a speech in the House of Representatives on the National Partnership on Remote Housing.

"There is a young man visiting us in Canberra today, His name is Lenny. He's 23 years old, and he lives with his mother and grandmother in the remote community of Hope Vale, in Far North Queensland, almost 3,000 kilometres from where we sit today. Through the national partnership agreement, Lenny became an apprentice, building homes in his own community. Lenny finished his apprenticeship just a few weeks ago. He's now a fully qualified carpenter earning a steady wage building homes in Hope Vale. His mother currently has a job in Cooktown, but that job will finish up soon, meaning that Lenny will be the sole breadwinner for his family. If the Prime Minister continues with his plan to cut the National Partnership on Remote Housing, Lenny, like many other Indigenous Australians, will be out of a job."

 

Member for Barton Linda Burney MP moves in Parliament that the House "urgently restore commitment to this program, in order to reduce overcrowding in discrete and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities..."

Testimonial: Mapoon Aboriginal Shire Council

Mapoon Aboriginal Shire Council CEO Naseem Begam Chetty shares a letter of support for the #DontWalkAway campaign, saying the continuation of funding for housing in his remote shire is vital as Mapoon looks to its future.

"With the past disconnect of families from Mapoon now behind us, we have a large number of family members who wish to return to the community to reconnect with family and community and support the economic growth and prosperity of Mapoon.
 
Like all remote Councils we are building for the future and the need to provide additional homes is part of our strategy to do that. 

Failure of the remote area housing program to continue will strangle our growth and restrict opportunities for our community to build for the future. 

We cannot underestimate how serious a risk the lack of a remote area housing program and allocation of suitable housing numbers to Mapoon will be. " 

Meetings continue in Canberra

Strong statement from State

Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said providing housing was a critical input toward Closing the Gap, and called on the Federal Government to commit to fair funding for Queensland with a further 10 year funding agreement at current levels.

“You can’t start to tackle issues like poor education or poor health comes if you don’t have a roof over your head,” Mr de Brenni said.

Indigenous council delegation heads to Canberra: Monday 5th February

Council Delegate
Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council CEO Warren Collins
Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire Council Mayor Greg McLean, CEO Steve Linnane
Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council Deputy Mayor Territa Dick, CEO Fabian Williams
Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council Mayor Wayne Butcher
TSIRC Mayor Fred Gela
Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council Mayor Desmond Tayley
Yarrabah Shire Council Mayor Ross Andrews, Deputy Mayor Michael Sands
Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council Mayor Alf Lacey
Torres Shire Council Mayor Vonda Malone, CEO Dalassa Yorkston

More Canberra meetings confirmed 

  • Warren Entsch MP and Senator Patrick Dodson join growing list of Federal MPs and Senators confirmed to meet with delegation of Queensland indigenous mayors next week.
  • Bob Katter MP and Senator Pauline Hanson also on the confirmed meeting list.

Joint briefing

Thursday Feburary 1st: The LGAQ, Department of Housing and Public Works and Minister de Brenni and Queensland mayors meet to discuss the campaign.

ABC coverage

Wednesday January 31st: ABC publish article 'Indigenous housing funding under threat as people wait years for homes.'

"Ida Richardson knows the pain of living without a home. For 14 years she was on the waiting list for public housing on Palm Island in north Queensland."

National ALP Platform supportive

National ALP Platform supportive of addressing overcrowding through investment in new housing and refurbishing.

Lets talk stats

In his weekly column, LGAQ CEO Greg Hallam said that the headline achievement of the partnership in Queensland was the delivery of more than 1200 new houses and the refurbishment of nearly 1500 others. 

This program has been a boon to local employment and business growth. Nearly 800 apprentices and trainees are attached to the NPARIH building program each year in Queensland. The proportion of local businesses and organisations involved in the program has jumped from just 10 percent in 2011 to 70 percent last year.

Building in progress on Palm Island.

Meetings and correspondance 

  • January 25th: LGAQ CEO Greg Hallam writes to all members of the Senate Economics Legislation Committee. Senator Chris Ketter tables this letter at the Monday 29th hearing of the Committee.
  • The LGAQ sends invitations to 36 MPs and Senators asking them to meet with a delegation of indigenous Queensland mayors travelling to Canberra the week of 5 February. 
  • So far, 6 MPS and Senators have confirmed. 

QShelter adds voice to the campaign

Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006


 

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