$200m boost for housing
Aboriginal families in the North West are set to benefit from a $200 million fund which aims to increase housing options and break the cycle of generational welfare dependency.
The North-West Aboriginal Housing Fund will put hundreds of Aboriginal people on a path to educational and economic success, supporting them to move out of social housing into transitional housing, private rental accommodation or home ownership.
The project is a major initiative of the State Government’s regional services reforms to improve the lives of Aboriginal people in regional and remote WA.
Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said the fund would be used to build high specification “transitional houses” in the Kimberley and Pilbara.
Shadow minister for mental health Stephen Dawson, said the funding, while long overdue, was welcome for the Pilbara.
“At the moment there is a disincentive for many Aboriginal people living in social housing because their tenancy is put at risk if they get a job and earn over a certain amount.” he said. “This initiative will hopefully put tenants on the path to home ownership and help break the poverty cycle by ensuring children attend school.”
He said most Aboriginal households in the North West lived in social housing — more than 70 per cent in the Kimberley and more than 50 per cent in the Pilbara.
Housing Minister Brendon Grylls said families in transitional housing would need to fulfil a range of obligations in exchange for affordable rent and support services. Adults must be employed or in training, and children must attend school at least 85 per cent of the time.
Implementation of the four-year fund will start this year with the building of 50 transitional houses in the Kimberley, starting in Kununurra.
The fund includes a $25 million commitment from the Federal Government, with the remainder funded by the WA Government, supported by the Royalties for Regions program. It expands the Government’s successful transitional housing model, developed in partnership with the Wunan Foundation, operating in several Kimberley areas and delivering greater economic independence and an increase in school attendance.