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Indigenous lifeworlds, conditionality and housing outcomes

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 19:13 authored by Moran, M, Memmott, P, Nash, D, Birdsall-Jones, C, Fantin, S, Phillips, P, Daphne HabibisDaphne Habibis

Indigenous housing occupies a complex policy environment in which policies and programs are in intermittent states of flux. As a result, the existing frameworks struggle to deliver sustainable outcomes. This study considers how conditionality in housing policy and management contributes to housing outcomes, and what modes of conditionality are most effective and in what contexts for Indigenous clients. It considers the most effective co-related household and governance arrangements to enable forms of reciprocity to occur. A key hypothesis tested is the critical necessity for a ‘recognition space’ involving mutual recognition of the moral relationships of duty and care between SHAs, intermediary organisations and tenants (see Figure 1 for a diagrammatic representation of the recognition space).

Completed over three years (2012–15), this project began with a literature review of housing policy in different jurisdictions spanning several decades to the present (Habibis et al. 2013). The research team then undertook five separate qualitative case studies across remote, regional and metropolitan locations: namely, Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory; the Goldfields region of Western Australia; and Mount Isa, Palm Island and Logan in Queensland.

The imposition of conditionalities into social housing policy mirrors earlier and broader ongoing reforms to welfare conditionality. Although these conditionalities continue to escalate, there is nothing novel in either applying conditions to funding, nor in using citizen entitlements as a mechanism to affect behavioural change. Thus, this study pragmatically accepts the presence of housing conditionality, and focusses on the types of conditionality applied to Indigenous housing and their relative effectiveness in achieving policy goals.

An early finding across all studies was the reduced role of ICHOs (Indigenous community housing organisations) over recent years and the continuing struggle for government funding by those remaining. ICHO capability development for selfgovernance of Indigenous housing has not been supported by government since the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) era. A range of other organisations are now involved in tenancy management, including community organisations and not-for-profit corporations. The bottom left apex of the recognition space framework (see above) was therefore changed from ‘Indigenous governance’ to ‘intermediary organisations’.


Publication title

AHURI Final Report








School of Social Sciences


Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited

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Copyright 2016 AHURI. Licenced under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

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Public services policy advice and analysis

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