Northern Territory 2022-23 budget to include $690 million for remote housing to ease overcrowding
The Northern Territory government has allocated $690 million for remote housing in tomorrow’s budget, in a bid to ramp up the long-awaited construction of more homes to ease chronic overcrowding.
- The Northern Territory has the highest rates of overcrowded housing
- The funding also includes housing for remote teachers
- It’s hoped the construction of more homes will lead to local job opportunities
Remote communities have been battling overcrowding for decades, alongside complaints that the delivery of new homes has been too slow, and ongoing debate between the territory and federal governments about the funding of homelands.
On the eve of the budget being handed down, the government has outlined plans to build at least 260 new homes and 200 serviced lots in the 2022-23 financial year.
It said $301 million would go towards a remote housing investment package that would fund extensions at overcrowded homes, as well as the construction of new homes for government employees.
More than $235 million would be spent on land servicing, while $150 million would go towards ongoing works to build new, and improve existing, housing through the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing, which is funded by the Commonwealth.
The territory government last year predicted it would miss its deadline to build hundreds of homes under the agreement, however has since said it was confident it would reach its targets.
At the end of January 2022, the government had completed 448 federally-funded bedrooms, or 135 homes — not yet a quarter of its 1,950 bedroom target.
Funding to include housing for remote teachers
The government said the budget also included a further $9.3 million to construct and upgrade homes for remote teachers.
Minister for Remote Housing and Town Camps Chansey Paech said the joint investment would be “the biggest spend within the program so far, and sets a record for the Northern Territory”.
“The new financial year comes with exciting prospects for our remote housing program, and I’m looking forward to seeing many of our projects come to fruition.”
Creating jobs for locals
As part of the program, select tenders will be offered to locally-based Aboriginal businesses to help communities become more sustainable.
Matt Cunningham is a partner and project manager at majority Aboriginal-owned construction company, Blueprint, which was recently awarded a contract to build dozens of homes at town camps around Alice Springs.
He said the benefits of building new homes would extend far beyond the houses themselves.
“I think it’s a really good opportunity to engage youth that live in these town camps that wouldn’t otherwise be engaged in work,” he said.
“It’s so easy to go out and find workers that happen to be Aboriginal, but [we want] to actually get people involved in work that otherwise wouldn’t be.”
Mr Cunningham said youth crime was a “hot topic” in Alice Springs, and one that could be partly alleviated by upskilling more young people and giving them a sense of belonging.
“Once you’re involved on a construction site, and there’s the everyday banter and they’re engaging with workers and getting to know people, I think they’ll find it a lot harder to commit crimes against people they work with everyday,” he said.
According to the government, more than 2,381 homes across the Northern Territory have been built, upgraded or improved since it came into power in 2016.