Following on from its strong track record in community housing for aboriginal communities in eastern Victoria, Community Housing Limited (CHL) has launched a new initiative: CHL – Aboriginal Housing Development.
The initiative builds on CHL’s commitment to provide quality affordable housing to those most in need. Partnerships between aboriginal communities and non-aboriginal services are increasing due to a shift in Government policy that is incentivising organisations to create these partnerships. As positive examples of Aboriginal partnerships with ‘mainstream’ agencies emerge, other service providers are following the lead of the early adopter organistions.
CHL has built a successful three year track record in working with four aboriginal communities. They are the Gippsland/East Gippsland Aboriginal Cooperative (GEGAC), Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust, Central Gippsland Aboriginal Cooperative, and the Murray Valley Aboriginal Cooperative.
The initiative will be led by Project Officer Maree Davidson, who coordinated these programs while based in CHL’s Gippsland office. Ms. Davidson says the key to developing a successful aboriginal housing service has been based on (a) delivering on promises, (b) being committed to open and frequent communication with community leaders and members, and (c) remaining consistent in the role as a partner with specific expertise invited to provide housing development and management services
“Like any relationship, it’s about mutual respect, sharing knowledge and earning trust. We have delivered some exciting housing projects with aboriginal communities that are managed responsibly to ensure they are sustainable. The community feels a high degree of ownership,” says Ms.Davidson.
“GEGAC developed a partnership with CHL on the basis of providing a quality service to our clients in housing. GEGAC has been very pleased with the partnership between an indigenous community based organisation and an external housing infrastructure. GEGAC looked closely at their values and commitment towards providing housing needs to indigenous people in East Gippsland,” says GEGAC Chairman Ricky Mullet.
“GEGAC renewed the contract for a further two years and we hope the partnerships develops whereas CHL can make a major contribution in addressing housing shortfalls in East Gippsland. GEGAC is currently negotiating with CHL in building seven new houses and flats to meet the ongoing needs of our community. GEGAC in partnership with CHL will provide quality service delivery for access housing for aboriginal people in East Gippsland.”
Ms. Davidson says for the project to be successful, CHL will need to build its profile amongst aboriginal communities across the country and gain credibility. The organisation is also aware of the vastly different challenges and priorities that various communities face, particularly in regional and remote areas. The first step she says, will be to listen and review what has been learned over the past 3 years .
“Understanding family and community networks and the changing political environment will be important for CHL in building contacts and organising initial meetings with the leaders of various communities,” she says. “CHL will explore opportunities to talk with community members about what we offer.”
CHL will undertake two years of research and development, working with the assistance of a research student from the University of Melbourne to help document CHL’s model of community engagement. It plans to have a fully operational aboriginal housing development division geared up to begin projects at the end of 2007. A national aboriginal housing program operating in each state is envisioned for the future.
“Our major objectives will be to research and plan for partnerships in which CHL can assist aboriginal communities to improve the quality of existing stock and increase levels of affordable housing appropriate to the needs of each community. This includes assessing local need, seeking funding, following through with technical expertise in design, construction and management if required. Having these services in- house makes it possible to create real employment pathways for aboriginal people within CHL,” says Ms.Davidson.
For more information on CHL, contact:
Coordinator – Marketing and Communications
t 03 9856 0021 m 0430 555 241