Victoria launches $5.3 million plan to tackle Aboriginal homelessness

By Shannon Jenkins

Friday February 28, 2020


The first self-determined strategic policy direction led by the Victorian Aboriginal community has called on governments to help ensure all Aboriginal Victorians have safe, stable housing.

The state government funded Aboriginal Housing Victoria to develop the frameworkMana-na worn-tyeen maar-takoort: Every Aboriginal Person Has a Home — which sets out a blueprint to improve Aboriginal housing outcomes in a generation.

Minister for Housing Richard Wynne and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gavin Jennings launched the framework on Wednesday with an initial investment of $5.3 million. The money will help fund initiatives such as an Aboriginal-specific Private Rental Assistance Program, community engagement activities, and the exploring future investment in Aboriginal housing, they said.

The framework sets out the goal of meeting demand for 27,000 additional Aboriginal households by 2036.

Fifteen actions were directed to state and commonwealth governments, regarding support and commitment to targets, and prioritising Aboriginal self determination in lifting housing outcomes.

Departments should focus on monitoring and reporting on Aboriginal housing and homeless outcomes, the report said, while governments should ensure funding goes to providers which adopt the Housing First principle, and offer person centred services and focus on lifting outcomes.

It was also suggested that governments specify Aboriginal needs in contractual obligations, take a holistic, systems based approach to housing and homelessness, and help fund innovative Aboriginal initiatives.

Unlike other areas of social policy that impact on the wellbeing of Aboriginal Victorians, housing and homelessness have not been framed by overarching policy either at the state or commonwealth level, according to steering committee chair Professor Kerry Arabena, and deputy chair Daphne Yarram.

“The framework has been developed by the community for the community. This is its strength,” they wrote. “Government partners have participated in the process, provided guidance and direction, but have recognised the power that has come from a community led response.”

Aboriginal Housing Victoria will lead implementation of the framework and advocate across the sector and community to address housing challenges.

A Framework Implementation Governance Group will need to be established, the report said, comprised of both Aboriginal community leaders and senior public officials.

The group should be jointly chaired by a respected Aboriginal community leader, who will guide and shape evolving policy, and a government minister, who will secure commitments and undertakings across portfolios and through the bureaucracy.

Victoria holds the highest rate of presentation for homeless assistance by Aboriginal people in Australia. Over the past year, 17% of Aboriginal people in Victoria sought assistance from a homeless service, according to the report. Roughly 44% of those people were already homeless.

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