Aboriginal housing sub-group working towards improved social housing

An Aboriginal housing sub-group hopes to create a model for improved social housing which could benefit the entire shire.

The sub-group has recently re-formed under the guidance of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Councillor Larry Whipper is a part of the sub-group and said improved social housing for Aboriginal people was a crucial first step forward to fixing the Highlands housing problem.

“Housing’s always been a real issue, not only for Aboriginal people but in general,” he said.

“The role of sub-group is to facilitate platform to look at opportunities and how council may be able to assist.”

Some of the group’s discussions have centered around working with the Illawarra Land Council and Argyle Housing to provide additional housing.

Cr Whipper said volunteers from the Aboriginal community had previously been at Argyle Housing to help people fill out the forms.

This is something which the sub-group is again looking at - this time possibly with representatives from Argyle Housing at the Aboriginal Cultural and Community Centre.

If the expansion of the cultural centre goes ahead, this would allow other services and agencies to connect with the community.

Cr Whipper also believes that developers could play a role in the solution.

“The community development committee is talking about looking at developers providing X amount of their development for affordable rental housing.

“My concept is it would be handed over to council and community and then from there the management of land given to a social housing provider.”

If the sub-group can come up with a way to provide more social housing for Aboriginal people, Cr Whipper said it would then have the potential to be applied shire wide.

“That model would be a generic model we could apply across the whole shire.”

The lack of social housing is one Cr Whipper said had been an issue for years.

He has seen first hand the problems faced by people who do not have access to social housing.

“When people haven’t got access to housing then they become very anxious and stressed. I’ve worked with a lot of people that have got a number of issues and they’re socially isolated, disadvantaged,” he said.

“What happens if they haven’t got a home is you can’t work with those individuals because they’ve got no base. So they tend to slip through the net and become more and more vulnerable. It’s critically important that people have a roof over their head and they’ve got a safe place to access other services from.”