Aboriginal Regional Housing
After ten years spent building a large stock of well managed quality Aboriginal housing in the New South Wales outback, Murdi Paaki Housing is making commitments to help its region’s communities in achieving better housing, better lifestyles and better health.
Murdi Paaki Regional Housing Corporation Limited, or Murdi Paaki Housing, is well known around Australia as a very successful model for providing and managing housing for Aboriginal people at a regional level. Housing organisations throughout the country are keen to learn the lessons and achievements which have made Murdi Paaki Housing one of Australia’s largest and most respected Indigenous housing providers. Even some international interest has been achieved.
Murdi Paaki Housing was formed in 1997 and its first job was to rescue the assets of many small housing organisations in towns around outback New South Wales. Murdi Paaki region covers almost one third of New South Wales, and it includes some of the most remote and isolated communities in the State. In its first few years Murdi Paaki Housing spent most of its time and resources building a good stock of housing and fixing problems with housing in communities where either the housing organisation or the housing stock itself was at risk of being lost.
Chairman of Murdi Paaki Housing, Mr Des Jones, noted at a recent meeting in Cobar, “Over the years, many challenging tasks have been tackled by Murdi Paaki Housing without fear or favour”. These challenges included the elimination of long term debts and collecting rent from all tenants as a high priority, in order to be fair and equitable to all Aboriginal households.
“These actions were not popular with some local communities, but they have helped to create a strong regional organisation which is now well placed to work with these same communities in achieving community development and improved lifestyles”, said Mr Jones.
Less known, but very important Murdi Paaki Housing achievements
- developing a competent and responsible staff team
- setting up sound administrative and financial management systems
- the introduction of health and safety measures for builders and
- securing the future of much needed Aboriginal community assets.
Now, Murdi Paaki Housing is further extending its services to the region. It has embarked on a new strategic plan which will make a substantial contribution to housing conditions and Indigenous lifestyles in Murdi Paaki over the next few years.
The new initiatives include
- establishing a branch network of Field Officers in three sub-regions; providing all communities with direct access to the Murdi Paaki Housing team
- a five year partnership with Far West Area Health to deliver a Healthy Housing Worker Program; employing Indigenous workers in targeted communities to improve basic home maintenance and environmental health and safety, and to promote tenant support and education
- overseeing a housing construction and acquisition program of more than 120 new houses and the renovation of more than 100 houses
- working closely with local Aboriginal Community Working Parties to provide feedback on local issues and to make suggestions to improve local lifestyles
- assessing the feasibility of Indigenous ownership of a housing supplies, hardware and infrastructure enterprise in the region. Murdi Paaki Housing has always had a policy of supporting Aboriginal tradespeople, and the establishment of a regional building supplier organisation would take this policy to a new level
- a partnership with Indigenous Australian Foods Ltd to assist this company in creating sustainable Aboriginal enterprises in bushfood production.
Mr Jones has a message for the Aboriginal people of Murdi Paaki region. “After all the years of hard work, we hope the region’s communities are proud of Murdi Paaki Housing: Strong management but with worthwhile benefits. Over the next few years, we have an even bigger agenda to deliver”.