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New report reveals shocking truth about Indigenous housing conditions

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 1 May 2008

A new report published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has highlighted grave concerns about the housing conditions affecting Indigenous Australians.

"The inequality experienced by Indigenous Australians is a national disgrace, and adequate housing should be top of the list of priorities," said Greens spokesperson on Indigenous Issues, Senator Rachel Siewert today.

The report indicates the Indigenous impact of the housing crisis, with over a quarter of Australia's Indigenous population living in overcrowded conditions. The highest rates of overcrowding among Indigenous households were in the Northern Territory (38%) followed by Western Australia (16%).

"Evidence of an 'urban drift' of Indigenous Australians from rural and remote areas into cities that cannot cope with the increased population, was presented to the Senate Inquiry in Darwin today and Alice Springs yesterday," said Senator Siewert.

"It seems that the focus of the NT intervention on welfare quarantining ahead of housing and child protection is only making these problems worse - by increasing the number of families living rough in makeshift camps of the fringes of town."

"We need to focus on the things that really make a difference and work with communities to achieve positive outcomes," said Senator Siewert.

Inadequate housing and infrastructure can be linked to the increased spread of infectious diseases such as skin infections, respiratory problems, eye and ear infections, diarrhoeal diseases and rheumatic fever.

"These diseases have the greatest impact on Indigenous children and are directly related to factors such as inadequate water supplies, sanitation and overcrowding."

"The Rudd Government's recent announcement that they would focus on Aboriginal poverty in cities seems the perfect opportunity to act upon these horrendous figures," she concluded.

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