INDIGENOUS HOUSING

PUBLIC HOUSING ISSUES FOR INDIGENOUS TENANTS

THE ISSUE IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY

The way in which public housing matters urban areas are being managed at the moment, gives cause for concern. I imagine the same to be the case in regional centres and know for a fact there are issues in remote communities.

General

In urban terms, my concern has to do with the fact that allocated homes are not, in many cases, given the care and attention they should be afforded by tenants. When homes are vacated, many thousands of dollars are being spent on refurbishments prior to reallocation. When those homes are re-tenanted, new occupants are on their own. There appears to be no follow-up in terms of visit from the housing authority to see how the new tenants are going.

In my opinion, this leaves tenants vulnerable. This is particularly the case for those moving into new areas or possibly into conventional urban towin housing for the first time. They do need support on the systems this appears not to be forthcoming.

There should also be a role in terms of Government housing that considers education of people to live in houses, to care for property and to be considerate of neighbours. Included should be the use of stoves, refrigerators and washing machines. Garden maintenance and care for overall appearance should be taken into account. Too often the responsibilities that should be shown by tenants are ignored.

It would seem there is an assumption the tenants know all about how to maintain and care for conventional houses and gardens. This is certainly not the case, particularly for those who are coming into these housing contexts for the first time.

This has the effect of causing large sections of our suburbs to look very substandard and run down. Street appeal is reduced and there has to be a negative impact on the overall valuations of properties. Large sections of Darwin’s northern suburbs housing illustrates my point. The general vista and appearance of many parts of these suburbs now, compared to ten and fifteen years ago, suggests they are diminished and run down.

Humbugging

On the basis of observation, a real issue for indigenous tenants is that of being victims of “humbugging”. It might be assumed that indigenous tenants can easily manage the problem and push the humbuggers away. This is not the case. Family obligations often mean that those doing the pestering have to be accommodated and looked after. Huge and at times unmanageable pressures are placed on those who are trying to make a go of living in their new residences.

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