Housing should not be provided to remote Aboriginal communities where people are unable to pay rent or service a mortgage, according to former Labor Minister Gary Johns.
Writing in a paper released today by the Menzies Research Centre, Dr Johns argues that money spent on remote community housing, while “generous and well-targeted”, has resulted in wrecked houses and dependant communities.
A former minister in the Keating government and President of the Bennelong Society, Dr Johns believes policy makers have failed to acknowledge the link between housing and employment and says government should not provide permanent housing to communities that are not economically viable.
“The ultimate solution to Aboriginal housing in remote areas is jobs,” he says in the paper.
“But an honest assessment of employment prospects in remote areas is that they are bleak.”
Dr Johns says Aboriginal people in certain communities must adjust to the notion of relocating in order to seek employment opportunities, or otherwise be trapped in poverty.
While $2 billion has been invested in Aboriginal housing over the past decade, Dr Johns says this has resulted in only 471 new homes and a paltry 2 per cent increase.
He highlights the Northern Territory where he says housing has decreased in spite of more investing, ultimately leading to 271 fewer homes than five years ago.
Dr Johns also writes that services, including “refugee services and facilities”, are needed to assist in the transition of Indigenous people into mainstream economic life, and that the Government’s recently announced plan to promote home ownership by pressing Indigenous communities to sign private leases will do nothing to solve housing problems where there are no jobs.