Before I went on hiatus, I wrote a post about my efforts to be an ally to Indigenous Australians. It’s a basic outline of my education as a kid, how I’m going about self-education and how certain aspects of Australian society are limiting those efforts.
I would like to be able to give you an update on how I’m doing in studying up, or the collection of online resources I was collecting. But my capacity to do that sort of educational allywork pretty much went out the window over the last few months. I’ve been trying to pull together some information but it’s not quite fitting in my brain. As much as my allywork in every instance has suffered, I feel particularly bad* about not having done much for for Indigenous Australians. I think this is because I feel a particular duty as a non-white person benefitting off the racial oppression of other non-white people.
But this is not doing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people any good. I can still pass on links and stories and things so we’re all a bit more aware of what’s going on in Indigenous life right now. And that’s extremely important even if it wasn’t the direction in which I was intending to go! So I’m going to be posting about some of what I’ve been reading on Indigenous issues lately. If you’re not familiar with Australia’s horrific legacy of racism, strap yourself in and prepare to feel nauseous. I was going to write just the one post, but there is so much to cover. So this one’s on housing in the Northern Territory.
Two years ago, a $672 million Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program (SIHIP) was announced for the Northern Territory. It was supposed to involve the building of 750 homes, 230 rebuilds and 2500 refurbishments by 2013. As yet, not one home has been built. Let’s see what’s going on, shall we?
In response to this slackening off and wastage, Alison Anderson, the Indigenous policy minister in the Northern Territory, has quit the Labor party. Ms Anderson believes that only 30 per cent of the allocated funds will actually be spent on new homes. She terms the situation ‘the biggest scandal I have seen in my political career’. (via the National Indigenous Times.)
As of a couple of days ago, the Federal Government may take over the program, which I am not at all convinced will be better, because, well, we know how that sort of thing tends to go. NT Housing Minister Rob Knight thinks his government can still come through. The ABC reports ‘The Commonwealth says if the management of the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program does not improve within four months, it will take more direct control.’
This sudden flurry of activity comes about following a report into SIHIP which says that significant changes are needed. Namely, $450 000 needs to be spent per house, not the planned $350 000. The report puts the present estimated administrative costs of the program at 11.4 per cent, a cost which can be reduced to 8 per cent. The cherry on the cake is that, according to NT Deputy Opposition Leader Kezia Purick, over $45 million has already been spent. I’ll remind you that not a single solitary house has been built. Where have the administrative costs been going?
And this isn’t just abstract political fudging, either; in July, the people of Ampilatwatja moved out of their homes in protest of living conditions. Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin says that Ampilatwatja isn’t one of the communities listed to recieve new housing, anyway. There is pressure on the minister to step down due to all this mismanagement.
Note: You may be wondering why most of the sources I’m citing are from the ABC. That’s because, as much as I’d like to mix up my sources, a lot of this stuff is getting ignored or only partly covered by other sections of the media.
Non-Indigenous Australia, you are doing very badly by the First Australians.
If you’ve got any links to good online resources on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander topics for my resources post, they would be much appreciated. Personal perspectives, like blogs, are good, as are stats pages, organisational homepages, whatever – it would be great if you’d care to recommend any.
*Yes, I know, I know, it’s not exactly my fault that the areas I could work in, and the kinds of activism I could do – and can do, still – were reduced.