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Senator Thorpe pushes for stand alone plan for First Nations housing

This week the Albanese Government released its National Housing and Homelessness Plan Issues Paper, and on Wednesday will reintroduce its Housing Australia Future Fund Bill into parliament. Senator Lidia Thorpe has been in negotiations with the government to push for a standalone First Nations Housing and Homelessness Plan and ensure that a response to the First Nations homelessness crisis is a focus of the HAFF package.

Senator Thorpe is putting pressure on the government to respond properly to the First Nations homelessness crisis by:

  • Including minimum targets in the HAFF and other housing initiatives so that a minimum of 10% of new housing supply houses First Peoples.
  • 50% of any additional returns from HAFF (above the $500 million floor) to be allocated to acute housing needs for First Peoples, victims of family and domestic violence, and veterans. (Under the current arrangement, it is up to the government to increase the annual disbursement amount through a disallowable instrument, but we want a guarantee that some of it will go to acute housing).
  • Developing a standalone First Peoples Housing and Homelessness Plan, with a funding commitment for consultation and development alongside the National Housing and Homelessness Plan.
  • Coordinate rent controls and the expansion of culturally safe tenancy support programs in every state and territory to support renters and reduce the high rates of evictions for First Peoples. This should be coordinated with states and territories through negotiations for the new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement.

The following quotes are attributable to Senator Lidia Thorpe, Gunnai, Gunditjmara and Djab Wurrung woman and independent Victorian Senator representing the Blak Sovereign Movement:

“We are in a housing and homelessness crisis, and First Peoples are the hardest hit by this crisis. While First Peoples are sleeping rough on their own land, the rich continue to get richer off our misery while they sit on vacant investment properties.

“Deprived of our land, our lore and our customs, First Peoples are ten times more likely to be homeless on our own land. This legacy of housing poverty and deprivation is a national shame. 

“Labor have plenty of time to boast about their budget surplus. They are happy to spend $364 million on their token Voice to Parliament. It is now time for them to take real action and respond to the growing majority of people in this country who are calling on them to form a standalone First Nations Housing and Homelessness Plan.

“The Albanese Government’s current plan places the solution to the housing crisis in the hands of the market, shifting responsibility away from government and leaving it up to property developers to solve the crisis. This is a complete violation of the government’s duty of care to its people to ensure secure and affordable housing for all. 

“Housing is a basic human right, but both major parties have continued to instead treat it as a way to generate wealth for the privileged while driving inequality and homelessness. It is no surprise that so many politicians in this place own up to six or seven properties.

“There is more than enough wealth in this country to ensure that all people, regardless of their culture or race, have access to secure and affordable housing.

“The CFMEU have made a very reasonable proposition, to impose a super profits tax that will only affect a small number of very large corporations, to directly fund the building of enough social and public housing that will meet our need over the coming decades.

“If Labor are serious about listening to the voices of First Peoples, they must increase the minimum annual spend from the HAFF and include targets in HAFF and all other housing policies to ensure a minimum of 10% of new housing supply houses First Peoples. 

“There needs to be a standalone First Peoples Housing and Homelessness Plan. We deserve a housing system that is culturally safe, trauma informed and based on the principles of self-determination. Recent Closing the Gap findings about the government’s failure to properly consult with our people shows that, at a minimum, there needs to be co-decision making with First Peoples organisations in each state and territory and targets to which they can be held accountable, not just more toothless advisory bodies.

“We need urgent and material action for renters, including rent controls and culturally safe tenancy supports. First Peoples have higher eviction rates and experience racial discrimination by landlords and social housing organisations.

“Minister Burney has stated that housing will be a priority for the Voice. These are some immediate and simple steps the government can take, that our people are calling for, that would address the huge barriers to housing First Peoples are experiencing due to colonisation, ongoing racism and decades of policy failure.”

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