INQUIRY FINDS NT GOVERNMENT FAILS TOWN CAMPS

 TIME FOR A NEW APPROACH

Tangentyere Council CEO Walter Shaw has welcomed the release of the NT Public Accounts Committee Report into Town Camps, which was tabled in Parliament last night.

“The report supports what we have been saying for years – the current system of housing management in Town Camps just isn’t working,” Mr Shaw said.

“The PAC findings outline the unfair, ineffective and failing system of managing housing on Alice Springs Town Camps and we call on the Government to implement the recommendations as a matter of urgency.

“The NT Government is moving towards another review of town camps right now, which is all well and good but Town Campers need action now.

“This latest review hasn’t even started yet and is not due to be completed until the end of this year.

“We cannot afford to wait until next year for the NT Government to actually do something to directly address the critical housing shortage on Town Camps.

“As the PAC reports says, there are issues associated with Town Camp housing that are in desperate need of attention and cannot continue to be overlooked.

“Town Camps cannot go on sitting in Housing Minister Bess Price’s too hard basket.

“Setting up more bureaucracies and reviews isn’t going to build one more house or make sure one more family has a functioning home.

“The NT Government-controlled housing system has failed Aboriginal people, in Town Camps, in urban housing and out bush.

“It’s time for all levels of Government to give control over something as fundamentally important as housing back to the community and the people who live there.

“Town Campers need and deserve real commitments and real funding to improve our living conditions.

“We urge the NT Housing Minister to implement the recommendations of this report immediately so we don’t have to continue to live under a broken system.”

May 25, 2016

For more information contact Mandy Taylor 0414 634159

NT GOVT NEEDS TO ACT NOW ON HOUSING REPORT

The Central Australian Affordable Housing Company (CAAHC) welcomed the Public Accounts Committee Report into Town Camp Housing as a blueprint to improve living conditions and housing.

CAAHC CEO Sally Langton said it was heartening to have an NT Government report recognise the failures in the current system and make solid recommendations for improvement.

“This report puts the concerns CAAHC and other organisations have had for more than five years on the public record at last,” Ms Langton said.

“As the report states, many of these issues have been neglected by Government for years, resulting in poor housing, overcrowding and the ongoing problems this creates in the community.

“CAAHC trusts that the NT government will take immediate note of the findings and address the issues raised as a matter of urgency.

“Some of them can be dealt with now as systemic and internal issues.

“We should not be waiting until the results of a Review that hasn’t even begun, or for the new strategies that may flow on from this Review to be implemented.

“We are running out of time to correct these mistakes. Any further time spent dwelling on the past and passing blame will be time wasted. We need to move now.

“CAAHC is pleased to note the PAC has also supported our position that a community housing model should be considered as the most effective way of managing housing on Town Camps.

“CAAHC stands ready for discussion and co-operation with the NT Government to develop new models and ways forward that will improve housing and the lives of Alice Springs Town Campers.”

For further information please contact Sally Langton on 0412 321 260

May 25, 2016

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Rules won't stop Vietnam Veteran from toasting mates on Anzac Day

NT News  April 25, 2016

GEOFF Shaw served two tours of Vietnam, he has an Order of Australia Medal and he even features on the cover of a Federal Government Veteran’s Affairs pamphlet.

But Mr Shaw, 71, is probably the only Digger who would be breaking the law to have his mates around for a beer this Anzac Day.

Mr Shaw has lived at Mt Nancy town camp in Alice Springs all his life. As part of the 2007 Northern Territory Emergency Response all Territory town camps, populated exclusively by Aborigines, became dry zones under Commonwealth law.

Mr Shaw admits he sometimes flouts the restrictions – he feels he has earned the right.

“I feel a bit of PTSD coming on and I want a beer to relax, to get over that hurdle,” he said.

“I did Malaya and Borneo, two tours of Vietnam, I got all these medals and I can’t have a drink here.”

Mr Shaw was sent to Vietnam in 1966.

He would spend nearly two years there, rising to the rank of corporal with 10 men under his command.

The small group was a “United Nations” of backgrounds,” Mr Shaw said.

“There was no issues of race.

“We were all dressed in green.”

Three of his men would be killed just metres from him in three separate incident in 1968 and 1969. He has battled with post-traumatic stress disorder ever since.

“The wife and kids they see me sitting out there with a tear in my eye and they leave me alone,” he said. “It just comes up now and again.”

Mr Shaw recalled an occasion he had just been to the RSL and brought home a sixpack of beer. On hearing a domestic violence incident in the nearby riverbed he called police who arrived only to tip out his open can and take the other five.

“I said ‘I just came back from the RSL’ and they said ‘You can go back to the f***ing RSL, you can’t drink here.”

PRICE ISN'T RIGHT ON TOWN CAMP CONTRACTS

 

A delegation of Alice Springs Town Campers has travelled to Darwin to present their case for an independent and transparent investigation into the failure of leasing arrangements on Town Camps.

The Tangentyere Council representatives  are calling for a review of:

·         The Alice Springs Town Camp tenancy management procurement process

·         The performance of the Housing Management Agreement between the Commonwealth and the Territory Government.

Tangentyere CEO Walter Shaw was accompanied by his board of directors who will continue to be the people most affected by the poor decisions made by the Giles Government.

Mr Shaw said the Territory Department of Housing had failed in its obligations under the subleases since it took on the role in December 2009.

“The Town Camp Housing Associations signed these Tripartite subleases between themselves, the Executive Director of Township Leasing on behalf of the Commonwealth and the CEO of Housing on behalf of the NT in good faith,” Mr Shaw said.

“Our elders fought hard to have Town Camps established and we’ve been fighting for decent living conditions and proper resourcing and recognition since, so we didn’t sign these leases lightly.

“But the fact is conditions on Alice Springs Town Camps haven’t improved, despite the expenditure of millions of dollars by the NT and Federal Governments, and in recent years things have gone from bad to worse.

“There’s no Closing the Gap with Alice Springs Town Camps. In reality the living conditions between suburban Alice and the Camps is an ever-widening chasm.

“The latest decision by the NT Government to award a cut price tenancy management contract to a non-Indigenous private business has seen Town Campers say enough is enough.

“Not only does taking this contract away from an Aboriginal-controlled community housing organisation mean residents have even less involvement and voice in decisions and actions affecting their homes and families, it effectively means a real cut in service delivery to people already living in conditions of overcrowding and disrepair.’

Mr Shaw said the Tenancy Management contract awarded to Zodiac Business Services was $702,000 over 16 months, a significant reduction compared to previous years.

“The Minister and the Department of Housing have repeatedly said this was a decision based on price. This contravenes their own procurement policies which state factors such as past performance, capacity and local development were much more important considerations.

“The NT receives Commonwealth funding under the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPARIH) for Town Camps, as well as rental income from the 270 houses covered by the Tenancy Management contract.

“We would like to know why the NT needs to reduce service delivery to Town Camps and how this reduced expenditure will be invested for the benefit of residents.

“Both the Chief Minister and the Minister for Housing have stated that the Territory was required to align the tender process to requirements outlined in the Tripartite Alice Springs Living Area Subleases. If so, the procurement process requires further investigation as it deviates substantially from the process outlined by the sublease.

“We have briefed the Territory Opposition and Independents about the issues with the contract and wider leases this week and are grateful for their support in asking for an independent review.

“The Public Housing Management of Town Camps needs to end in favour of the Central Australian Affordable Housing Company operating a regulated and accredited Community Housing Model that both empowers and cares for the welfare of residents.

“We are hopeful the Chief Minister Adam Giles will also support this proposal, given his statements saying he supports housing being given back to communities.

“If he is serious about supporting the capability and capacity of Aboriginal Territorians to build economic sustainability housing is a logical place to start giving control back to Aboriginal entities at a local level.

“Give tenancy management back to CAAHC, review the leasing arrangements on Town Camps and prove that price isn’t more important than the welfare of residents.”

NT HOUSING CONTRACT CUT COULD LEAD TO MORE HOMELESSNESS

The NT Government’s decision to take a tenancy management program away from an Aboriginal-owned housing organisation and give it to a private business could lead to more homelessness and overcrowding in Alice Springs Town Camps.

Tangentyere Council CEO Walter Shaw has called on the NT Government to review the Housing Department’s decision to take the contract from the Central Australian Affordable Housing Company (CAAHC) and give it to a business service company.

“This decision is yet another example of how the NT Government’s housing policies are completely failing Aboriginal people,” Mr Shaw said.

“CAAHC has been operating the tenancy management service contract for five years and has established good relationships and a wealth of experience in Town Camps.

“CAAHC would advocate for Town Camp tenants with the Housing Department and push to get repairs and maintenance carried out on our houses.

“I suspect the new contractor will do the bare minimum and be there to represent the interests of the department rather than the tenants.

“Town Campers are concerned this will lead to even longer waiting times for repairs and more people being made homeless because of bureaucratic inaction.

“We already wait months for repairs and many properties are unsafe, even with CAAHC in there advocating. We are very concerned this is only going to get much worse.

“In March 2015 Tangentyere and other organisations at the APONT Housing Summit outlined to Housing Minister Bess Price how the current approach on housing was failing Aboriginal people.

“We called for a housing system that would put Aboriginal people back in control of the design, construction and management of Aboriginal housing – exactly what CAAHC was set up to do in Alice Springs.

 “Chief Minister Adam Giles and Minister Price have to explain why their department has dumped an organisation the Ministers themselves have praised and supported.

“It is a direct contravention of the Chief Minister’s recent commitment to grow Indigenous businesses.

“This decision has created a wet turd for the Chief Minister – it stinks and will stick to his boots for a very long time.”

ENDS

January 7, 2016

CHALLENGING FUTURE FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING

The Central Australian Affordable Housing Company (CAAHC) is sad to announce the loss of our contract with the Department of Housing to provide Tenancy Management Services to the residents of Alice Springs Town Camps.

CAAHC CEO Sally Langton said the organisation had been successfully providing services to Town Camp residents for almost five years.

“We have built up a level of expertise in providing these services and developed good relationships with residents over this time,” Ms Langton said.

“We entered the tender process with the hope of implementing a new service model that would improve services to the community resulting in better tenancy outcomes for residents and the Department of Housing.

“Unfortunately CAAHC has been unsuccessful in this process.

“We were informed late on New Year’s Eve we had lost the contract, which has cut to the soul of our organisation and partners.

“We are now facing a very challenging future.

“As a not for profit community housing organisation, we have proudly employed many Aboriginal people over the last five years and sadly the majority of our staff will lose their employment in the next few weeks.

“We have written to Chief Minister Adam Giles and Housing Minister Bess Price explaining the impact of this procurement decision, which appears to be in contravention of the Chief Minister’s aims of supporting Indigenous business and jobs.

“Both Ministers have been very supportive of CAAHC’s work in the past, with Minister Price recognising CAAHC has runs on the board and is held in high esteem. (Minister Price Media Release 28 Aug, 2015)

“CAAHC will continue to provide community housing options to the Alice Springs community and we look forward to new opportunities to work with government and the NGO sector to grow the organisation and become a benchmark community housing provider for many Aboriginal people.”

 

For further information please contact Sally Langton on 0412 321 260

January 6, 2016