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An autonomous, prosperous and sustainable community and council

Priority Area Two - Homelessness, Overcrowding Issues & Adequate Housing








What is the issue?

Access to safe and secure housing is a critical pillar to ending the disparity between Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal communities, and the non-Indigenous population. With a portfolio of 900+ social houses, Council is the largest housing provider within the North Queensland region, however inadequate funding has meant there is consistently a significant number of households on our waiting lists. Many wait-listed applicants are in desperate need due to an overcrowded situation, homelessness, safety or medical concerns;





*Data current as at August 2020


Why is this important for our communities?

Homelessness and housing stress can profoundly affect the mental and physical health of individuals and families, as well as impact on their education and employment opportunities, and their ability to participate fully in the community. Overcrowding situations within Torres Strait communities has shown a downstream effect on the number of serious health conditions, like respiratory infections, rheumatic heart disease and conditions like melioidosis.




What we are seeking:

- Realisation of previously committed funding, being $2.5m, and $14.43m (Council’s agreed allocation of the $105m State total) respectively.

- Support the establishment of a Housing Authority and collaborate directly with Council to fund and innovatively address overcrowding, homelessness, housing conditions, and housing shortages within the Torres Strait region.

- Work with Council to develop a strategic roadmap towards increasing local engagement and use of local services and resources.

- Work with Council to develop innovative partnership models on housing, assisting in facilitation of the home ownership realisation process for our communities.

- Work with Council on an effective and agreed solution, such as a 10-year extension (as lobbied via the LGAQ ILF), for Section 24JAA of the Native Title Act (1993) which is currently due to cease 15th of December 2020.


What we know:

Home ownership realised:

Home ownership was realised for the first time in the Torres Strait Regional Local Government Area in 2019. Several other LHA leases have been signed off and registered since this milestone. Council, through the aid of grant funding, is continuing the work required to bring LHA properties up to a liveable standard and assisting with initial insurance costs in order for the private ownership process to begin.


Cost of housing service provision: 

Council does not receive rateable income, rather utility income from a small number of business, mixed-use and home ownership properties within the region. These utility charges equate to ~$1.6m p.a., however, are heavily subsidised and therefore do not offset the cost of essential service provision.


Health concerns from overcrowding:

Multiple editions of The National Guide to a Preventive Health Assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People published by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has outlined the health risks from overcrowded situations, such as Chronic ear infections, eye infections, skin conditions, and gastroenteritis. Specifically, for tropical areas like the Torres Strait, there is an additional higher risk of respiratory infections, rheumatic heart disease and conditions like melioidosis.

National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people (3rd edition)

Downstream COVID-19 effect on returning boarding students:

Approximately 10% of the Torres Strait Regional Local Government Area population attend boarding school facilities on the Australian mainland. In early 2020 and in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, federal biosecurity restrictions for remote Indigenous communities came into effect. These restrictions meant strict quarantine requirements for returning students and caregivers and due to overcrowding situations, and lack of available or suitable properties, returning residents were not able to quarantine within their communities, causing significant accommodation costs for facilities on Thursday Island and in Cairns.


Lack of accomodation; barrier to local employment:

Council is the largest employer in the region, with 289 roles based within local communities, however an independent report commissioned in 2018, indicated that housing shortages have a significant impact on the ability to migrate or develop additional positions within local communities.
































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