Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people took to Twitter today, using the hashtag #IndigenousVotes to raise election priorities, and to encourage voters to consider Indigenous concerns when voting.
The hashtag trended nationally, highlighting many critical public health issues; see a selection of the tweets beneath the article below.
Meanwhile, recognising the importance of affordable housing for health, Summer May Finlay has been investigating the question: Housing, where do Liberal, Labor and Greens stand?
Her article below was first published in the NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper election special as part of a Croakey contribution, and is re-published here with permission. Read the full edition here.
Summer May Finlay writes:
The 2016 election policies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seem to focus on health, education and jobs.
But with overcrowding and homelessness impacting on people’s health, education, employment and other social determinants of health, the question is: do we need a focus on housing too?
Housing statistics produced by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are appalling. While there has been a two percent increase in the number of us who own our own home, we are almost half as likely to do so as other Australians. We are three times more likely to live in overcrowded houses than other Australians. Homelessness is also an issue, with one in 20 of us homeless.
We also know there is no national plan to improve housing for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. There is however, a National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing. This is great for the 21 percent of us who live in remote or very remote communities, but what about the remaining 79 percent?
So the answer is – yes.
Yes, we need specific Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing policies, regardless of location.
So what policies are the major parties (Labor, Liberal and Greens) offering to improve housing outcomes for our communities?
The Greens have a comprehensive housing policy, which seeks to ensure all people including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to affordable housing or social housing. They recognise housing as a human right.
Labor has a number of housing-related policies, which include housing affordability, safe housing for women fleeing domestic violence and investing in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing.
Labor’s housing affordability policy focuses on the tax system and rebates, which will assist some of us but, when the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander unemployment rate is 45 percent, a large chunk of people will not benefit.
The Liberal party have been supportive of the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing; however, they do not have a comprehensive housing policy at all, let alone one that mentions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Liberal dialogue on housing consists mostly of attacking Labor’s plan for housing affordability.
What are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and mainstream organisations saying on the matter?
They say we need a national coordinated comprehensive approach to housing as part of The Redfern Statement, released on 9 June 2016. The authors understand that a social determinants approach is required to improve outcomes of all our communities.
The Statement calls for a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative body for housing to address the clear needs. The Redfern Statement should be viewed by all parties as delivering policy on a silver platter.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people don’t have the luxury of ignoring the issues around housing. Many of us have lived, or currently live with them, day in and day out. No one can pretend the issues don’t exist.
The Greens have a comprehensive housing policy, and Labor has some policies.
But my question to the Liberals is: Where are your policies to address the housing needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?
- Summer May Finlay is a Yorta Yorta woman, a public health practitioner, a contributor to Croakey, and a PhD candidate.
From the Twittersphere: #IndigenousVotes
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