Aboriginal Community Owned & Managed

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SEARMS Chair, “Uncle Tom” Slockee, on Transitional Housing

Posted on 9 Sep 2022

Without housing first, actions to address the National Agreement on Closing the Gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is near impossible to achieve. The lack of appropriate government investment (at all levels) to address the housing affordability and housing supply crisis for elderly, vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians has been exacerbated during the pandemic.

The past few years have seen additional trauma for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders on top of the impacts of colonisation, land dispossession and culture suppression. However, as the world’s oldest civilisation, the people are enduring – continuing to work on de-colonising structures and systems towards reparation and equity.

As an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) specialising in housing and related activities, SEARMS will continue to advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We are advocating for new housing supply, diversity in housing supply and a seat at the table in the commissioning and procurement processes that assign funds purported to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait housing outcomes.

While new housing supply and options across the continuum are needed, SEARMS Chair Tom Slockee recently spoke about the need for transitional housing and collaborations.

“Transitional housing for Aboriginal people is such a big need, and we need Community Controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing organisations to be allocated properties to support our people through the churn of life’s ups and downs. A safe place to recover and build a future is required to break the cycle of homelessness. Homelessness is a significant risk to the physical and mental health and functioning of our communities.

We need Aboriginal Medical Services and other ACCOs, including Aboriginal Women’s Groups, to partner with local Aboriginal Community Housing Providers (ACHPs) to increase our transitional housing options. Transitional housing needs to be supported and accompanied by funding support for Outreach Case Managers/Workers, as they support the tenant to stabilise their circumstances and move on to more appropriate long-term housing. In NSW, the Aboriginal Housing Office could assign properties as transitional housing to transfer to ACHPs. More importantly, the Department of Communities and Justice could assign mainstream properties as transitional housing and hand them over to ACHPs to manage in partnership with case management providers and other wrap-around services.

We at SEARMS Community Housing Aboriginal Corporation are working towards solutions and exploring options.”

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