NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #SocialDeterminants #Housing : Why do we need another study to evaluate the impact of housing policies on the health and wellbeing of our mob ?

 ” A new study will evaluate the impact of housing policies on the health and wellbeing of First Nations people thanks to a $250,000 grant from the Australian Government.

Shelter WA will lead this work around the country to assess environmental health impacts, short term versus long term policy vision and how we manage the construction and maintenance of housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Minister Ken Wyatt Press Release See in full Part 1

A recent Senate Estimates have highlighted the failure of Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion to negotiate a new remote Indigenous housing agreement with the states and territories.

In its May Budget, the Coalition effectively axed the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPARIH), which had invested $5.4 billion over the previous decade to address severe overcrowding.

The Government’s own independent review clearly states that “high levels of overcrowding and poor housing condition negatively impact on outcomes in health, education, employment and safety.

 The decision left Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia without any ongoing funding arrangement for remote Indigenous housing.

Shadow Housing and Homelessness Minister, Senator Doug Cameron, said the hearing also exposed the scale of the Coalition’s cuts to remote housing.

” Houses that are not well-maintained fall out of commission quickly and do not provide their basic function of supporting the health and wellbeing of tenants. While overcrowding is present, the need for maintenance is even greater.

Future funding is needed from governments as the costs of housing cannot be covered by rental income or other forms of investment due to market factors. Governments should work together to set a target for reducing the taxpayer subsidy for running social housing in remote Indigenous communities.

Ongoing funding, at least to maintain housing created, will protect the $5.4 billion investment already made under the Strategy. Without this funding, the Panel is confident houses will quickly fall out of commission, wasting the Strategy’s progress.”

See all the recommendations from 2017 Remote Housing Review Part 3 below

WA’s peak housing body has been angered enough to wade into a toxic fight over WA’s remote Indigenous communities, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison commented in Perth that the 10-year Commonwealth-state funding agreement was for “a couple of years” only, and that remote housing was a WA responsibility.

Twelve thousand outback residents wait in limbo, some suffering illnesses including leprosy, tuberculosis and trachoma – which has been described as a “national disgrace”, and is directly related to overcrowded, inadequate housing. ”

Read full media coverage Here 

 ” Indigenous affairs envoy Tony Abbott appears to be trying to make amends with the Borroloola community, who were less than impressed with his first visit, by giving them second hand RAAF base houses, some of which may already be over forty years old.

The NT News understands that the houses may only be liveable for two to five years and the NT Government provided feedback that they were not a suitable option.

The secretive process that the federal indigenous affairs envoy and NT Senator Nigel Scullion undertook in plucking 12 houses from beside the Stuart Hwy has come under scrutiny and questions have been raised as to the suitability of the homes, most of which were built in the late 1970s and have been sitting roadside for over four years.

Read NT media coverage HERE 

 

Read NACCHO Press release HERE

Part 1 Housing Study Aims to Improve Health of First Australians

The 2017 national My Life My Lead report highlighted housing’s importance, finding better housing conditions would improve First Australians’ health and were also linked to increased participation in education, employment and the community.

The Commonwealth’s investment through the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing has delivered significant results.

Our Remote Housing Review, completed in partnership with leading Indigenous Australians, found that there had been a significant decrease in the proportion of overcrowded households in remote and very remote areas, falling from 52.1 per cent to 37.4 per cent by 2018.

Read or download the report HERE 

review-of-remote-housing

The Commonwealth remains committed to future investment in remote Indigenous housing and has agreed to provide $550 million for future remote housing investment in the Northern Territory.

Offers for further investment in Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia remain on the table for state governments to consider.

Shelter WA will work closely with project partners the National Aboriginal Congress and National Shelter to deliver this study, helping to ensure there is a strong First Nations voice and national perspective in future housing policy.

Work will commence immediately with the results of the study expected to be concluded by mid-2019.

 

Part 2 Labor Press Release October 2018

A recent Senate Estimates have highlighted the failure of Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion to negotiate a new remote Indigenous housing agreement with the states and territories.

Shadow Housing and Homelessness Minister, Senator Doug Cameron, said today’s hearings also exposed the scale of the Coalition’s cuts to remote housing.

In its May Budget, the Coalition effectively axed the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPARIH), which had invested $5.4 billion over the previous decade to address severe overcrowding.

The Government’s own independent review clearly states that “high levels of overcrowding and poor housing condition negatively impact on outcomes in health, education, employment and safety.”

The decision left Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia without any ongoing funding arrangement for remote Indigenous housing. Evidence today from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet revealed that contrary to claims by Minister Scullion that “there are no cuts to housing”, no new Commonwealth funds have being delivered this year.

“As a matter of urgency, Minister Scullion must establish a program of negotiations with state and territory governments to resolve future

Commonwealth funding arrangements for remote Indigenous housing,” Senator Cameron said.

“Priority must be given to a building program that assists in reducing the negative health implications of severe overcrowding.”

Reports by the ABC just this week have drawn attention to the prevalence of Rheumatic Heart Disease in remote Indigenous communities. RHD is a preventable illness affecting about 6,000 Australians, with Indigenous children 55 times more likely to die from the disease than their non-Indigenous peers.

The causes can be as common as repeated throat and skin infections, caused by living in overcrowded housing conditions, but the consequences can be devastating, leading to permanent heart damage and even death.

“Despite the seriousness of the issues, Minister Scullion’s performance today was aggressive, amateurish and incompetent,” Senator Cameron said.

“It’s clear that if the Minister is unable to reach agreements with the states and territories he will be responsible for the ongoing poor health outcomes in remote communities.”

Labor believes a committed, ongoing partnership from all levels of government is essential to meet the scale of the need in remote communities.

The Morrison Government should be working cooperatively with Indigenous communities to ensure services are delivered as efficiently and effectively as possible. Senator Cameron said that in light of Minister’s performance, Prime Minister

Morrison should seriously consider whether he has confidence in his ability to carry out his responsibilities in the portfolio.

Part 3 8.3 Key Findings

Continued investment by governments will be required beyond 2018, at least in the maintenance of existing tenancies, where there are limited opportunities to recover costs through rent or other charges.

Governments should work together to set a target for reducing the minimum cost of taxpayer subsidy for the operational expense of running social housing in remote Indigenous communities.

High costs prohibit financial returns and mean funding is required for a remote housing program to be sustainable, even with improvements to PTM.

Government funding could be used to develop impact investment financing models, but this needs further exploration and trialling in less unfavourable markets, before it would be sensibly trialled in a remote context.

Future Directions – Panel recommendations

The Strategy has made a significant difference to the lives of many families in remote Indigenous communities. A long-term investment in remote Indigenous housing is needed for additional houses and to maintain existing stock.

Our recommendations build on the lessons learned from the Strategy and previous investment.

Recommendation: A recurrent program must be funded to maintain existing houses, preserve functionality and increase the life of housing assets

Houses that are not well-maintained fall out of commission quickly and do not provide their basic function of supporting the health and wellbeing of tenants. While overcrowding is present, the need for maintenance is even greater.

Future funding is needed from governments as the costs of housing cannot be covered by rental income or other forms of investment due to market factors. Governments should work together to set a target for reducing the taxpayer subsidy for running social housing in remote Indigenous communities.

Ongoing funding, at least to maintain housing created, will protect the $5.4 billion investment already made under the Strategy. Without this funding, the Panel is confident houses will quickly fall out of commission, wasting the Strategy’s progress.

To avoid creating two classes of housing in communities, a future agreement should include repairs and maintenance of all dwellings in remote Indigenous communities, not just those built or refurbished under the Strategy.

Recommendation: Investment for an additional 5,500 houses by 2028 is needed to continue efforts on Closing the Gap on Indigenous Disadvantage

The investment under the Strategy has improved the life outcomes of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, but problematic overcrowding still exists and the population is growing.

An additional 5,500 dwellings are needed, to address current levels and the potential for a return to higher overcrowding levels due to population growth if efforts are not maintained.

An additional 5,500 dwellings are projected to further reduce overcrowding to a level of 25-30 per cent by 2028 and as such will continue to support efforts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and Closing the Gap.

Recommendation: The costs of a remote Indigenous housing program should be shared 50:50 between the Commonwealth and the jurisdictions

Under the Strategy the Commonwealth was the sole funder of the program which meant jurisdictions lacked skin in the game and the Commonwealth reacted to protect its interest by introducing a series of processes that had unintended consequences.

A genuine financial partnership between the Commonwealth and jurisdictions would focus the attention of both levels of government to the delivery of outcomes, not outputs. Shared responsibility for funding would establish a partnership that works toward shared goals.

If responsibility for funding is shared, then both levels of government have incentives to run an efficient program.

Recommendation: Establish a regional governance structure to facilitate better administration of the program

Commonwealth and jurisdiction governments need a way of working with each other and with communities that facilitates management of an inherently complex program. All parties should be able to contribute information and perspective to help guide sound decision making.

A regional governance framework would facilitate more effective collaboration between Commonwealth, jurisdiction and local governments, and communities. It would have the added benefit of bringing planning and decision making closer to the ground and would create a more responsive program. In addition, communities that can organise themselves will have a formal mechanism for input.

Bringing local government into the governance structure means the community and region would have a greater stake in the success of the program.

Recommendation: A higher level of transparency is required: a sound performance framework and information processes that are relevant to individuals and communities, and derivative of the information that is needed for regional governance of the program

One of the key failures of the Strategy was its information collection.

Improved transparency would foster mutual responsibility for all parties to identify problems and share solutions. It is important the reasons for decisions are known and all parties are incentivised to find innovative solutions to local problems.

By focusing on collecting data that is needed for decision making to serve overarching policy, performance indicators for the program as a whole can be developed that have real meaning in terms of the achievement of better and sustained housing amenity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote Australia.

Recommendation: Best practice fora should be established to share information across the Commonwealth, jurisdictions, regional governance bodies and service providers

To improve housing delivery, best practice, challenges and experience need to be shared. Multilateral fora between the Commonwealth and jurisdictions to share experiences are important. There should also be opportunities for regional governance bodies, service providers and community leaders to share their learnings.

Best practice fora should consider housing experiences outside communities and jurisdictions funded by the Strategy. Other jurisdictions, and urban and regional housing providers should be included in broader discussions for best practice in social and Indigenous housing.

Recommendation: A minimum five year rolling plan for the program should be established

The two year timeframes introduced as part of the competitive bids were too short for proper planning and undermined the effectiveness and efficiency of jurisdictions’ efforts to deliver the Strategy particularly for housing construction.

A minimum five year rolling plan for the program should be established with proper mechanisms for performance management and information systems as outlined in the previous recommendations.

A program that retains the intended long planning cycles in practice would enable better decision making and flexibility to respond to local conditions, incentivise investment in better systems, improve coordination between service providers and administrators, achieve economies of scale, and support the development of additional capacity and training of local workforces and businesses.

Recommendation: Regional sample surveys (using the survey–and–fix methodology of the Fixing Houses for Better Health program) must form a core part of the regional governance and monitoring strategy

A recurrent, proactive maintenance program is fundamental to preserve functionality and increase the life of existing housing assets in remote Indigenous communities. Cyclical maintenance programs must be developed more consistently across the program.

This should be reinforced by a requirement for regional sample surveys using the survey-and-fix methodology of the Fixing Houses for Better Health program.

The long-term cost of property management is decreased by having a cyclical maintenance program in place. Data from the surveys would enable the governance structure to make sound and evidence based policy decisions about delivery of the program and to develop long-term plans for additional construction, conduct repairs, and establish a recurrent and proactive maintenance program.

Recommendation: Details about certification of properties (at all stages of building, and for life after acceptance and tenanting) should be reported to the governance structure to ensure construction in remote communities is compliant with the appropriate building and certification standards and sub-standard builders are eliminated

Housing in remote communities must be built and upheld to the same effective standard as in urban areas. Compliance with existing Commonwealth and jurisdiction legislation for housing standards and the National Indigenous Housing Guide (that lifts the standard to that appropriate for remote areas) is not negotiable. Regulation of housing standards needs more assertive management across the project management life cycle – planning, project delivery, acceptance and post-acceptance functioning.

Certification of houses should be robust and require a level of compliance appropriate to remote environments, delivering the same amenity as applies for houses in urban areas. All non-arm’s length certification arrangements should be eliminated and independent scrutiny that houses meet standards post acceptance and for years after tenanting would add rigour.

This rigour will ultimately improve conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, improve health and other social outcomes and will ultimately reduce costs and protect governments’ investment over the longer term.

Recommendation: The regional governance bodies should work with local employers to plan how to develop the local work force and create more local employment

The employment opportunities that arise from housing construction and maintenance activities have provided positive outcomes for communities in some areas. There is scope to increase efforts and derive benefits more broadly.

Where possible, local employment opportunities should be maximised and the local labour force developed in partnership with local businesses and councils. A regional governance body should work with local businesses or councils as potential employers, and with regional training organisations, to develop a plan to train and develop the local labour force and businesses.

Where local people are employed by local businesses or councils to do the work, it can reduce the cost of delivering PTM and improve the timeliness of response.

Recommendation: Comprehensive planning across governments, involving local communities, is essential for the next remote Indigenous housing national program

Town and community planning are important to ensure that communities are developing in ways that meet the aspirations of local people. Plans need to assess whether housing is appropriate for its location and local cultural requirements.

Governments should link and develop plans for infrastructure and housing together, under town and community planning principles. Plans should include housing-related infrastructure in parallel with housing delivery, and coordinate municipal and essential services requirements and infrastructure needs including the need for new land development or upgrades of essential services.

Plans should be completed to the same quality standard as applies for urban environments.

Governments should focus on resolution of land tenure in communities with significant need that have not received investment.

A long-term, coordinated effort between governments would avoid duplication in effort and wasted investment.

Recommendation: Tenancy education programs should be implemented. Outreach services for tenancy tribunals to improve access in remote communities should be funded

Consequences and enforcement of rights and responsibilities are important for both tenants and landlords. Tenants and landlords (jurisdictions) have frustrations in enforcing their rights and ensuring compliance with responsibilities.

Clear understanding of rights and responsibilities by tenants would assist. Better access to tenancy tribunals in remote communities could assist both tenants and landlords resolve complaints and enforce compliance. There are opportunities for sharing and replication of best practice in the creation of incentives for householders to look after and preserve their housing.

Activities that continue to support better application of PTM will assist tenants in managing their rights and responsibilities under the program.

 

NACCHO welcomes feedback/comment:Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s