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Indigenous Housing: 17 people to a bedroom is not a lifestyle choice.

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Senator Aden Ridgeway Australian Democrats Indigenous Affairs Spokesperson Senator Andrew Murray Australian Democrats Taxation, Finance and Corporate Affairs


14 August 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/585

Indigenous Housing: 17 people to a bedroom is not a lifestyle choice

The Australian Democrats today said the Health Minister showed a remarkable inability to understand the urgent need for more Indigenous housing in remote communities.

Senator Andrew Murray who has recently visited the Northern Territory community of Daly River*, highlighted the crisis in Indigenous housing by reporting that he had been advised that the average number of occupants per bedroom in Daly River was 17.

He then asked the Minister what the Government was doing to address this and other urgent Indigenous housing needs.

“Senator Patterson’s answer showed she had little understanding of the consequences of such living conditions by talking about that level of overcrowding as potentially being a lifestyle choice,” said Senator Murray.

“ATSIC have identified the Indigenous housing funding shortfall as being of the magnitude of $3.5 billion required to meet housing and infrastructure needs.

“The Minister performed a masterful dance of portfolio shuffling and states and territory buck passing to further illustrate the Governments inability to show any leadership on this issue,” said Senator Murray.

Democrats Indigenous Affairs spokesperson, Senator Aden Ridgeway, said there was a clear correlation between good housing and good levels of health and education and community stability, yet it was not clear the Government understood that.

“We have come out of question time unsure of whether the Minister accepts that a very significant increase in the provision of housing in areas such as Daly River is necessary to improve the qualify of life, educational prospects and health prospect for Indigenous people,” concluded Senator Ridgeway.

Contact: Senator Ridgeway Liz Willis 0417 410 506

Contact: Senator Murray Grace Tan 0417174302

*Senator Murray was visiting Daly River as member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services