The Aboriginal Housing Legislation Amendment Act 2010 came into operation on 1 July 2010.
This legislation establishes a new framework for ongoing housing reforms in remote Aboriginal communities while meeting Federal Government requirements. The Act has no impact on current land tenure and does not create an interest in the land.
There are five agreements and one protocol in the framework:
- A Housing Management Agreement (HMA), which must be in place before the Housing Authority can assume management of the letting and leasing of housing on Aboriginal land on behalf of an Aboriginal entity.
- An Agreement to Construct between the Housing Authority and the relevant Aboriginal entity is required to cover the construction of new housing at a specific location. This new housing will then be managed under an HMA.
- A Tenancy Agreement then establishes the legal rights and responsibilities of the Housing Authority and the Aboriginal tenant.
- A Service Level Agreement is the agreement under which the Housing Authority engages contractors to carry out obligations under the HMA Tenancy Agreements such as property maintenance.
- A joint venture or other arrangement to enable the same suite of activity on freehold land owned by an Aboriginal Entity.
Aboriginal communities are not obliged to enter into HMAs. The Housing Authority will negotiate to determine the wishes of community residents with an interest in the land.
The Housing Authority has established an ‘Ascertaining the wishes of Aboriginal inhabitants’ protocol. This protocol covers the need for discussion and negotiations with stakeholders in communities to determine the wishes of those with an interest in the land.
Native Titles bodies and the Aboriginal Lands Trust are also involved in the negotiation process, and community meetings are an important part of the process.
Before this legislation came into effect, a Memorandum of Understanding served as an interim arrangement to enable the Department to manage housing on the Aboriginal Lands Trust estate.
The National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPARIH) is a 10 year program established under the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) reforms in 2008 to deliver up to 4,200 new houses and refurbish up to 4,800 existing houses nationally in remote Indigenous communities.
All housing constructed or refurbished under the NPARIH will be supported by the implementation of standardised property and tenancy management processes.
The implementation of rent collection, asset protection, tenant support and governance arrangements consistent with public housing standards will improve housing standards and underpin sustainable housing outcomes for the residents in remote indigenous communities.
The Housing Authority will work closely and respectfully with stakeholders to ensure the new legal framework is beneficial for all concerned.