Researchers find key to improving remote housing 

Matthew Campbell … housing, health, education, employment and community development are inextricably linked

A Charles Darwin University research project investigating the provision of remote housing has found that Indigenous people and governments would benefit if “whole-of-government, whole-of-community” approaches were practised.

Matthew Campbell of Alice Springs said the research showed that both Indigenous people and government agencies recognised that housing, health, education, employment and community development were inextricably linked, and that such an approach would allow decisions that affected Indigenous community members to be made with reference to each other.

“Whole-of-community, whole-of-government approaches would focus on collective problem solving and planning under the authority of community elders working together,” he said.

“This would strengthen local governance, a key foundation of community health and harmony.”

Mr Campbell said a return to something similar to the old community councils, where an identified group would work on an integrated assessment of government business, would be necessary for the integration between whole-of-government and whole-of-community to work.

“Regular times could be set aside for government-community meetings where all government related community business can be negotiated in a range of contexts,” he said.

“This might involve meetings with particular elected community representatives, or whole community level meetings, or just groups of affected people.”

Mr Campbell and fellow CDU researcher Professor Michael Christie will co-present the paper “Consultation for Better Housing – research process, findings and implications” as part of The Northern Institute’s People, Policy, Place seminar series in Darwin this week.

“We’ll speak briefly about the methodology then talk in detail about our findings and recommendations,” Mr Campbell said.

The better housing project is one of five sub-projects of the broader “More Than a Roof Overhead” research initiative funded by the Australian Research Council.

“At the end of the day we are looking for ways to meet the need for a sustainable housing system in remote Indigenous communities,” Mr Campbell said.

“We worked with Territory housing staff and Aboriginal members of housing reference groups in remote communities and town camps to understand and improve the consultation processes associated with changes to the housing system in the NT.”

The Northern Institute’s People Policy Place seminar “Consultations for Better Housing Outcomes” will take place at CDU’s Casuarina campus on Wednesday, 13 March from 2pm – 3.30pm.