What is the issue?
The contemporary housing experience of Aboriginal people cannot be decoupled from the historical experiences of dispossession and dislocation. Through forced removal, economic exclusion and the undermining of traditional authority, lore and customs, Aboriginal people have been homeless in their own land for the past two centuries. While colonial values have receded and Aboriginal people have finally assumed full citizenship, there remains a lasting legacy of housing poverty and homelessness.
There is a crisis of Aboriginal homelessness in Victoria. Aboriginal people represent 13% of all Victorians accessing homelessness services, despite only making up 1% of the overall population. 17% of all Aboriginal people in Victoria accessed homelessness services across 2021-22. If the same rates were reflected in the non-Aboriginal population, more than 1 million Victorians would be seeking assistance for homelessness each year. It is clear that the current approach to ending homelessness in Victoria does not meet the needs of Aboriginal people experiencing homelessness, and that a new approach is needed.
What are we doing?
Objective four of Mana-na woorn-tyeen maar-takoort calls for the development of an Aboriginal focussed homelessness system. In advancing this objective, the AHHF commissioned the Blueprint for an Aboriginal-specific Homelessness System in Victoria (Blueprint). The Blueprint provides a roadmap for the development of a homelessness service system that is self-determined, community led, culturally safe, and responsive to the needs of Aboriginal Victorians experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. It outlines the key priorities and enablers as well as a plan to practically implement the new system.
Stage one of the implementation of the Blueprint will see two pilot Aboriginal Entry Points become operational at Ngwala Willumbong Aboriginal Corporation and Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative in early 2024. These Entry Points will deliver an enhanced entry point service model, through culturally appropriate intake, assessment and planning response and multidisciplinary teams to better support Aboriginal people experiencing homelessness. Data, insights and learnings from the Entry Points will inform the development of further elements of the Aboriginal homelessness system in the priority areas. The AHHF will continue to work with community and the Government to ensure that the Aboriginal homelessness system is expanded across Victoria. Examples of this work include:
- Engaging the mainstream homelessness system to ensure that all Aboriginal Victorians are receiving culturally safe and responsive support, and have adequate access to resources, wherever they seek assistance.
- Reforming data collection and ensuring access to transparent and meaningful data.
- Engaging in the capacity building and growth of the Aboriginal homelessness system and workforce.