The Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia (Inc.) (ALSWA) and Shelter WA prepared this joint submission in response to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) Indigenous Home Ownership Issues Paper, released in May 2010.
The submission noted many benefits in promoting and supporting home ownership for Aboriginal peoples, particularly in urban and regional areas where freehold land tenure is already established, including increased wealth and security.
However, with its emphasis on individual freehold and a nuclear family living in a fixed location for an extended period of time, it was noted that homeownership is not suitable for all Aboriginal peoples and is in conflict with some Aboriginal peoples cultural beliefs and social practices. The submission noted the particular risks of introducing home ownership into remote communities where there has been an absence of a property market and where there is possible infringement on those communities’ rights to self-determination. We recommended that specific consultation occur with peoples and organisations in those communities including Aboriginal Land Councils.
Where freehold land is already established, we supported initiatives that will assist Aboriginal peoples to purchase and maintain properties and mortgages. This was part of our wider recommendation that improving home ownership be promoted as a choice which is part of an overall Government strategy aimed at improving housing outcomes for Aboriginal peoples in all forms of housing tenure.