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Safe house dilemma

Monday, 7th June, 2010

Wilcannia Wilcannia

A program that cited Wilcannia’s housing shortage
as a central issue and then promised to supply
two new homes by the end of this month now says
they’ll be a year late because of a “property shortage”.
The Federal Government promised last year that it
would construct or purchase the two ‘safe houses’ so
that people fleeing domestic violence had somewhere
safe to go.
It also said it would build or buy another four houses,
due for completion by July 2011.
The promises were part of the Remote Service
Delivery Program (RSDP), a $300 million plan targeting
Indigenous disadvantage, which identified Wilcannia’s
lack of housing as a central issue for the community.
But work on the two safe houses, that were to be ready
in just three weeks’ time, has not started.
The local RSDP co-ordinator Kevin McNamara told
the BDT recently that he had never heard of the plan,
while Housing NSW, which was to supply the properties,
said on Thursday that a shortage of housing meant the
houses would not be available until next July.
It also appears only three houses will be built instead
of the promised six.
“Due to a property shortage within the Wilcannia
region, Housing NSW will undertake construction of one
safe house and two transition houses to address the stated
intention made in the Co-ordinator General’s report,” a
NSW Housing Department spokesman said.
“The three properties are due for completion in July
2011.”
The co-ordinator general Brian Gleeson said in his
six-month report in December that “two houses will be
purchased in 2009/10 to function as transition housing
for people escaping domestic violence”.
In addition Mr Gleeson said a “new safe house will
be built by the NSW Government by June 2011 ... two
further transition houses will be completed in 2010-11
... and funds under the Remote Indigenous Housing
National partnership will also be used to build one house
in Wilcannia in 2010-11”.
Mr Gleeson said, as a follow up to issues affecting
Wilcannia, “my office will be closely monitoring the
progression of housing as well as housing repairs and
maintenance”.
He also said freehold land would be purchased to
allow for the projected houses by June 30 but that has
not happened as Housing NSW said it was still looking
at options for freehold land purchases.
The RSDP was designed to ‘close the gap’ between
Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
When Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny
Macklin announced the program in April last year she
said it would be a revolution in service delivery targeting
disadvantage.

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