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The shortage of housing in remote communities, and their deteriorated condition, has long been associated with high levels of crowding, homelessness and serious health and social problems affecting the wellbeing of Indigenous Australians. A contributing factor to poor housing standards was the diversity of housing providers and grants as well as complex and confusing land tenure arrangements. To address these problems, the Commonwealth, states and the Northern Territory established the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing, (NPARIH) in 2008. NPARIH was a 10-year, $5.5b Commonwealth funded tenancy management and capital works program of new housing and refurbishment of existing housing. Under NPARIH, remote Indigenous housing came under a single regime managed by the state and territory governments, through their public housing agencies, The aim was to introduce robust and standardised tenancy management consistent with public housing standards and a repairs and maintenance program that increased the life cycle of housing, improved housing conditions and expanded housing options in remote Indigenous communities.
This divestment of historical Commonwealth responsibility to the states and territories was an audacious policy change, involving an attempt to mainstream remote Indigenous housing that was formerly mostly managed by the Indigenous community housing sector. With NPARIH now ending, it is timely to review how tenancy management arrangements are working given the substantial investment and the need to ensure arrangements are sustainable over the long term. This project builds on research undertaken in 2013 that investigated the tenancy management arrangements that followed the introduction of NPARIH in the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. It is not a review of NPARIH itself, and includes some consideration of non-NPARIH communities.
This second phase of the study commenced in mid-2014 and investigates how well tenancy management arrangements are working under NPARIH, the appropriateness and effectiveness of the tenancy management policy and service delivery approaches, and the efficiency and value for money of the service delivery models. It aims to identify and share across jurisdictions, and nationally, the policy and practice lessons gained from the NPARIH experience.