The highest levels of overcrowding in Australia occur in remote Northern Territory. Based on the 2016 Census, about 27,600 Aboriginal Territorians live in overcrowded houses, of which 10,700 are considered homeless. Under the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (2008-18), good progress had been made towards decreasing the proportion of overcrowded households in remote and very remote areas across Australia. However, the Remote Housing Review 2017 recommended that work needs to continue to bring overcrowding down to acceptable levels.
On 30 March 2019, the Commonwealth and Northern Territory governments entered into a new National Partnership for Remote Housing Northern Territory (2018-23), through which the Commonwealth will deliver up to $550 million in funding over 5 years to improve housing outcomes for Aboriginal Territorians in remote communities. This will be achieved by:
- reducing overcrowding through increasing the supply and standard of housing;
- ensuring a role for the Land Councils in the governance of the National Partnership;
- providing transparency about how money is spent; and
- ensuring to the maximum extent possible, works are delivered by local Indigenous Territorians and businesses.
The Commonwealth’s investment is being matched by the Northern Territory Government to create a joint $1.1 billion government investment over 5 years.
For the first time the Northern Territory Land Councils have a seat at the table – participating in decisions of broad policy and strategy for remote housing and monitoring of investment. This is carried out through the Joint Steering Committee that oversees investment under the National Partnership. The inclusion of Land Councils on the Joint Steering Committee provides a platform for Aboriginal Territorians to inform housing outcomes.
The National Partnership will reduce overcrowding in remote areas of the Northern Territory through the construction of 1,950 bedrooms – equivalent to 650 three-bedroom houses – over 5 years. This is in addition to housing and refurbishments to be delivered under the Northern Territory Government’s share of investment.
The National Partnership also accelerates the economic opportunities for Indigenous Australians by requiring that, to the maximum extent possible, works are delivered by local Aboriginal Territorians and their businesses with an initial minimum of 40 per cent Aboriginal full-time employment, rising to 46 per cent by 2022-23.
The Commonwealth will continue to work in partnership with the Northern Territory Government and the Northern Territory Land Councils to ensure that the targets and outcomes established by the National Partnership are delivered.