“…investment in remote housing by the Federal Government was unprecedented”

Thanks to Sally Brooks for the following

Friday, 08 June 2012

No cover for cement floors

A troubled remote housing program has been dealt another blow by a revelation that refurbishments do not include covering bare cement floors.

The news was leaked during senate estimates in Federal Parliament on Friday. Senator Nigel Scullion said: ”I asked why back in March this year, a tender closed for 60 houses in Santa Teresa scheduled to have floor tiles laid with funding from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, which was not from the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program (SIHIP) budget, after refurbishments had already been done.

”The answer I got was that the work had not been originally done as tiles were not generally done in refurbishments.

”Refurbishments average $75,000 and can be up to $100,000 – how can that not include floor coverings?”

SIHIP is a five-year, $672 million program to upgrade and build houses in 73 indigenous communities across the NT.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said investment in remote housing by the Federal Government was unprecedented.

”Refurbishments focus on fixing areas of the house that are unsafe or those that will have the most impact on residents’ lives, and include making sure that bathrooms, toilets and kitchens function properly.

”All work under the housing program is designed and delivered in line with the National Indigenous Housing Guide and the National Construction Code (formerly Building Code of Australia), as well as Australian standards and construction legislation.

”Across the NT, more than 486 new houses have been completed, another 177 are under way, and 1950 rebuilds and refurbishments have been completed as part of the program.”

No question that a lot of money has been spent. But the harder questions remain unanswered:

– has the National Indigenous Housing Guide actually been followed either in design or implementation?

– do all houses built or renovated comply with the Australian Building Code?

– do the rebuilt and refurbished houses provide basic functioning facilities for residents?

Some older new stories flagged the problems now being encountered. In a small community…     and      Broken promises