Regional Housing Taskforce submission


Central Darling Shire Council has once again emphasised the need for sustainable, affordable and quality housing throughout the Shire in a submission to the NSW Government Regional Housing Taskforce.

Undersupply, overcrowding and lack of qualified tradespeople to ensure ongoing maintenance are just some of the issues that have been highlighted in the submission, which was presented to the Taskforce last week.

Central Darling Shire Council Administrator, Bob Stewart, said the COVID crisis of the past few weeks has highlighted the dire need for affordable, quality Aboriginal housing – not just in Wilcannia but throughout the towns of the Shire.

“The situation Wilcannia found itself in, with the current COVID outbreak, has highlighted facts Council has been saying for many years – we need housing,” Mr Stewart said.

“This isn’t an issue isolated to Wilcannia. Ivanhoe and Menindee also have a dire housing shortage and need affordable housing stock increased.

“Council’s submission to the NSW Government Regional Housing Taskforce has highlighted three key points, which we hope will be moved on with urgency.”

The three key recommendations are:

1. That the Minister of Planning and Public Places prepare a Strategic Planning Document addressing Aboriginal Housing in Far West NSW.

2. That the provision and supply of Aboriginal Housing be listed as a Priority in the Housing 2041 – Strategy and Action Plan.

3. That an Action Plan be prepared in consultation to fund and deliver Aboriginal Housing in rural and remote communities in the Far West NSW as a matter of urgency.

“Population growth among the Aboriginal community throughout the Shire is predicted to grow in all age groups – children, working age and the retired which emphasises the urgent need to address housing,” Mr Stewart said.

“Overcrowding occurs when a home is not designed for the number of people living in that home.

“This situation contributes to poor health and social outcomes to an already at-risk population.

“The issue has again been bought to the forefront in the current COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in Wilcannia, where the task of isolating infected patients is near impossible, and this has led to emergency management scrambling to find solutions to a long-term legacy issue.

“It represents a massive failure of Government over many years to address the basic human right of shelter despite the warning signs contained in various reports and submissions.”

Mr Stewart said any housing strategy must include home ownership options, comprising of low fixed interest loans, with small deposits required to be eligible to secure a home loan.

“As with any housing stock, they will need to be maintained,” Mr Stewart said.

“It would be necessary to build local capacity in trades and resources to make this happen furthering employment opportunities in our communities.”