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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

How Much for a flagpole? and what of our social housing crisis

On Sunday the Premier of NSW announced that "the Aboriginal Flag is a step closer to permanently flying on the Sydney Harbour Bridge with a $25 million commitment in the 2022-23 NSW Budget".

"The funding will allow for the permanent installation of a third flagpole to fly the Aboriginal Flag above the Sydney Harbour Bridge by the end of this year". The announcement came as the Premier said "said flying the Aboriginal Flag alongside the Australian and NSW State Flag was an important gesture, which is part of a $401 million investment in this year’s Budget to prioritise Closing the Gap initiatives". But $25 million is one hell of a gesture. The flagpole will be about 20m high and the flag itself approximately 9m by 4.5m, requiring an attachment strong enough to withstand all weather conditions.

The announcement comes in the lead up to the 2022-23 NSW Budget reveal which looks more an more like a pork barrel as the government is just nine months out from an election. The Sydney Harbour Bridge already has two flag poles that currently show the Australian and NSW flag, with the state flag replaced by the Aboriginal flag on 19 days each year. Save $25 million and pull down the NSW Flag and put up the Aboriginal flag - job done.

The Premier seems to have changed his tune (from 2018 above) now saying the move for the $25 million flag was part of a new government approach to acknowledging Indigenous Australians in NSW. Where could the money go to improve the lives of our first nation people? Maybe some could find its way into the Eurobodalla. Member for Bega, Dr Michael Holland told 2EC "while the initiative will help some people, there are many more, who have been literally been left out in the cold. “There's absolutely nothing (in the budget) on homelessness, zero.” “There's been, this morning, the announcement of the revision of stamp duty to first home buyers under a certain value, that's all very good but homelessness is our crisis here and I can see nothing in that budget that goes towards public housing,” Dr Holland told 2EC. “We've got to get people out of tents and cars, and the way to solve public homelessness is to give people a home, so we need public housing.” “I've written a letter, earlier this year, asking the Minister for Housing for just $2 million to support the purchase of Nullica Lodge at Eden which will house 18 to 20 people and I’ve had no response, so you've got to deal with priorities here.” Minister for Families and Communities and Minister for Disability Services Natasha Maclaren- Jones said of the budget that a funding injection of $37 million will build on the success of the NSW Government’s Together Home program in tackling the issue of homelessness and would "counter homelessness and to work towards any return to rough sleeping".

The Minister's media release exposed the failure of recognising the community housing crisis by admitting that "This new investment will almost double the number of homes currently being delivered for clients of the program across the State to 270". Of those 270 homes NONE were built in the South East. The service provider in the South East of the Together Home program is Southern Cross Housing. A quick look at their website reveals:

The Minister for Families and Communities and Minister for Disability Services Natasha Maclaren-Jones said today "Together Home was a key part of progress being made to support the Premier’s priority to halve street homelessness by 2025". Possibly the Minister might like to visit the Eurobodalla and pass on the great news that half of them won't be homeless in 2025.

“The Together Home program not only provides a roof over someone’s head, it is much more. It enables access to stable accommodation and wraparound services to improve health, wellbeing and independence by providing the tools vulnerable residents need to rebuild their lives,” Mrs Maclaren-Jones said.

“It aims to support people from across the State who have a history of homelessness and help them into stable accommodation with wraparound support for two years.

“A further $18.4 million has been allocated to extend leasing and support packages for existing clients who may need to stay in the program for longer. This brings the total government investment for Together Home to $177.8 million.”

Together Home was first launched in July 2020 during the COVID-19 outbreak and was meant to play a key part of the NSW Government’s commitment to keeping rough sleepers safe during the pandemic.

In their submission to the 2022-23 NSW Budget the Community Housing Industry Association said "Regional housing markets have faced significant housing affordability pressures during the COVID-19 pandemic. The recently released Regional Housing Taskforce Recommendations report recommended that the NSW Government commit to the establishment of an ongoing program to deliver new and renewed social and affordable housing in regional NSW, through partnership approaches involving government agencies and the community housing sector. Community Housing Industry Association said "As a starting point, the NSW Government should commit to the establishment of a $500 million Regional Housing Fund to deliver new and renewed social housing properties, affordable housing properties, and key worker homes over two years. Consistent with the recommendation of the Regional Housing Taskforce, it is proposed that responsibility for project delivery is shared evenly between government agencies and the community housing sector". The Regional Housing Taskforce Recommendations report outlines five key recommendations for the NSW Government to consider, including:

  1. Support measures to bring forward a supply of ‘development-ready’ land;

  2. Increase the availability of affordable and diverse housing;

  3. Provide more certainty about where, when and what types of homes will be built;

  4. Investigate planning levers to facilitate the delivery of housing that meet shortterm needs; and

  5. Improve monitoring of housing and policy outcomes, and demand indicators.

To view the recommendations report, visit the regional housing web page. In March applications were open for eligible councils including Bega Valley and Eurobodalla to share in $30 million to fast-track supply of shovel-ready land and deliver more homes for families across regional NSW, as an immediate first step to address the NSW Government’s initial response to the Regional Housing Taskforce recommendations at a local level.

“We are getting on with the job of helping eliminate the housing pressures in the bush, and this first wave of funding will ensure regional councils help get new homes built where they’re needed most as quickly as possible,” Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said at the time.

“Eligible councils can apply for up to $1.4 million each in funding for enabling infrastructure and public spaces, if they can demonstrate they will speed up the delivery of new housing.

Minister for Planning and Homes Anthony Roberts said “New homes need new infrastructure – parks, kerbs, guttering and new roads. This funding supports councils to deliver this infrastructure so we can keep tradies working and get more homes built,” Mr Roberts said in February 2022.

“Housing issues are widespread and complex, so there isn’t a quick fix, but we aren’t wasting any time. We will continue working on a comprehensive whole-of-government response.”

To qualify, councils needed to prepare and implement plans by 11 March 2022 to address the Taskforce’s recommendations at a local level, such as updating infrastructure contributions plans and housing strategies. It is not known if Eurobodalla made application.


NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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