The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Leader of the Opposition) (14:18): My questions are to the Minister for Human Services:
1. Is the minister aware that the Northern Territory government was able to negotiate a federal contribution of $550 million over five years for remote Indigenous housing, compared to the one-off $37.5 million being provided to South Australia?
2. Is the minister aware of any further detail regarding the $37.5 million? In particular, is there a requirement for matched state funding, and is the funding for the current financial year?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (14:19): I thank the honourable member for his question. As the Treasurer stated in a response to a similar question in the last sitting week, the commonwealth may have published that they believe this is a final payment, but it is the South Australian government's view that the obligation is ongoing. Similarly to the Western Australian government, we reserve the right to come back to seek more funding.
As the honourable member would be aware, in the 2019 federal budget there was an allocation of $37.5 million to South Australia to be released in this current financial year (2018-19) for remote housing. This is expected to be released in full to the state in coming weeks. The state government is supporting this investment by providing matched funding of $37.5 million over a period of five years.
This is the first time the South Australian government has matched the commonwealth commitment in this space. Now that funding has been secured, we will prioritise conversations with stakeholders, particularly the community, businesses and service providers, about how to maximise the outcomes that this can provide for Aboriginal people in the most remote regions of South Australia.
Previous investment was significant. Over 10 years it provided new houses, replaced houses and upgraded existing homes. The investment also reformed how families are supported and how housing was managed and maintained in remote communities. While it is essential that we maintain these reforms and our investment already made in communities and assets, we also need to work more closely with communities about where to prioritise future investment.
As part of our commitment to improving housing outcomes for Aboriginal people, an Aboriginal housing strategy has been developed by the South Australian Housing Authority in partnership with Aboriginal leaders from across South Australia. The strategy will drive how we deliver services to support families in remote Aboriginal communities and how we invest in housing. It will also need to draw upon what evidence we have already documented, such as the Remote Housing Review, which told us that there is a need for housing in remote communities and also a need to improve community governance and voice. This will be central to the strategy.
Partnering with Aboriginal people and giving them back their voice in the housing system is a priority for the board. To support a high level of engagement in the strategy, the South Australian Housing Trust Board has established an Aboriginal advisory committee. This committee will be led by Aboriginal leaders and experts in human services and delivery of services to Aboriginal communities. We will be engaging with relevant communities on how best to utilise funding.
As part of my visit to the APY lands in May, I will also be having discussions with people from the local communities as a first stage in what will be a comprehensive engagement about Aboriginal housing. In terms of current services, a 2018-19 property and tenancy management budget has been approved from savings accrued under the national partnership agreement and its successor. This budget allocation in new investment ensures that there is no reduction in the services to remote communities.