Aboriginal Housing NT takes home Fitzgerald Human Rights Award

Date: Dec 18, 2018

Publication Type: Newsroom

Subject: Housing

​Aboriginal Housing NT (AHNT) has won the 2018 NT Human Rights Commission’s Fitzgerald Award for Diversity.

AHNT visit to Central Australian town camps and homelands in July 2017.

The Darwin Supreme Court was the setting for the awards ceremony, which took place on 12 December 2018.

AHNT members Matty Ryan of Maningrida and Chris Neade of Elliott accepted the award on behalf of AHNT and acknowledged the tireless work of the committee and its supporters.

The Fitzgerald Diversity Award is granted annually to “individuals or organisations whose activities focus on promoting, protecting and fulfilling the human rights and equal opportunity of diverse communities in the NT”.  AHNT beat out a strong field of contenders to acknowledge four years of advocating and acting for better housing for Aboriginal Territorians in town camps, homelands, outstations and remote communities.

Over the past decade, there have been significant changes in the way that Aboriginal housing has been delivered and managed in the Northern Territory. In 2008 we saw the dismantling of the Indigenous Community Housing Organisations (ICHOs), 75 per cent of which were run through local community councils that were replaced with ‘super shires’. This, with the dismantling of the Indigenous Community Housing Associations, saw Aboriginal people stripped of any control over their housing, which has had profound and dire consequences.

In response to the continuing housing crisis in the Northern Territory, AHNT was formed at the Aboriginal Housing Forum in 2015. Its voluntary committee is made up of people with dozens of languages between them and their skills, cultural knowledge and experience guides the group’s activities. The group is supported by more than 20 Aboriginal non-government organisations and is progressing to become the formal peak body for Aboriginal housing in the NT.

“There’s been an on-going crisis in Aboriginal housing for many decades and AHNT was established to give a voice to the many people living in overcrowded housing, the long-grass, the humpies and the run-down shacks that pass as accommodation in the Territory,” said Barbara Shaw, AHNT Co-Chair.

Since its establishment, AHNT has worked to articulate concerns and solutions to housing, overcrowding and homelessness in the NT. AHNT represent the most linguistically diverse and geographically dispersed communities of the NT. They address issues as diverse as water security, housing related illnesses (including rheumatic heart disease and renal disease), seasonal inaccessibility, remoteness and isolation, projected population increases, poor infrastructure, procurement policies and land tenure complexities. 

During its short existence, AHNT has worked tirelessly to redress this crisis strategically and structurally, and the win is recognition of Indigenous-led advocacy at its best. 

Members of AHNT:

Ms. Barbara Shaw (Co-Chair)
Mr. Matthew Ryan
Mr. Geoffrey Barnes
Mr. Samuel Bush-Blanasi (Co-Chair)
Ms. Maxine Carlton
Mr. Rick Fletcher
Mr. Yananymul Mununggurr
Mr. Chris Neade
Mr. Brian Pedwell
Mr. Tony Jack
Mr. Ross Williams
Ms. Annunciata Wilson
Mr. Graham Castine