This project is positioned in the context of reforms that have seen the Australian government providing resources to state and territory governments for property and tenancy management in remote Indigenous housing. These reforms form part of the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPARIH) and the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery (NPARSD) and follow changes introduced in the Northern Territory in 2007 under the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) (Northern Territory government 2008). The project specifically examines one of the outputs agreed under the NPARIH in December 2008, namely:
Robust and standardised tenancy management of all remote Indigenous housing that ensures rent collection, asset protection and governance arrangements consistent with public housing standards. (COAG 2010, p.5)
This shift in responsibilities between the Commonwealth, states and the Northern Territory establishes a 10-year housing strategy towards the provision of housing for Indigenous people in remote communities. The strategy is expected to address issues of crowding, homelessness, poor housing conditions and severe housing shortages. The reforms include standardised tenancy management, a program for ongoing maintenance and repair of houses, support structures for sustaining tenancies, reformed rent strategies, increased employment opportunities for local Indigenous residents, improved data collection capacity and the progressive resolution of land tenure on remote community titled land to facilitate both government and commercial investments and opportunities (COAG 2010). They are intended to contribute to broader outcomes under the NPARSD that emphasise community engagement, social inclusion, service integration and community capacity building (COAG 2008).
The transfer of responsibility for remote Indigenous housing to state housing authorities (SHA’s) entails significant challenges. These include the political and practical complexity of negotiating with communities on land tenure and establishing service delivery arrangements that meet NPARIH commitments. This involves adapting public housing tenancy management policies and practices to maintain consistency with public housing standards while ensuring appropriateness in remote Indigenous contexts.
This project examines how the reforms are being implemented in the Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia. It asks what forms tenancy management service delivery arrangements are taking in different jurisdictions and locations and what factors have influenced these decisions. By comparing the different ways in which tenancy services are being delivered to Aboriginal people in remote locations, the project aims to establish policy lessons that will inform practice. This will support in-depth robust analysis of questions about financial and tenancy outcomes.