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NT Shelter Inc
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11 SIHIP and the current state of playSIHIP and the current state of play by David Havercro NT Shelter Central Australian Policy Offi cer The heated debate around the Strategic Indigenous Housing & Infrastructure Program (SIHIP) con nues unabated Three Alliance partners became two in March with the dismissal of Earth Connect Alliance from works in the Top End. The alliancing model itself has been challenged over whether it is the best procurement methodology; there has been considerable detrac ng commentary in the media about this, but li le if any in-depth analysis in repor ng. The quality and extent of refurbishment works con nue to be scru nised, especially with the pending re-assignment of remote community housing management to Territory Housing (the works at Ali Curung being a case in point). And of course, there is the perennial airing of concerns with the programs expenditure for the small number of housing units delivered to date, and whether the program will be able to deliver on the numbers proposed. While acknowledging the myriad issues vying for media a en on and the complexi es inherent in nego a ng issues of land tenure and insa able housing demand, the program has been poorly sold to the public given the risks of not being able to achieve the proposed numbers within the $672m budget, the program s ll does not appear to be a Federal and NT Government misspend, and will see much needed houses being delivered to communi es. At the same me the program will see signifi cant new and ongoing employment opportuni es for Indigenous community members if training packages are properly delivered. Thamarrurr Development Corpora on (TDC)s expedient delivery for the New Future Alliance of new houses in Wadeye has been one of the few reported highlights - 12 houses completed to the end of June, with a 50% local Indigenous workforce. Yet even in this context there were unanswered doubts cast on whether the alliancing model is the best model for achieving outcomes. The lack of upfront transparency and responsiveness in Governments repor ng of the program has aided the poor percep on of SIHIP. Certainly, ini al delivery melines have not been met and Governments insistence in the media that new houses would fully comply with standards established by the Na onal Indigenous Housing Guide does not bear out. However one senses that more openness in Government repor ng would have lead to a more ready acceptance of program changes and delays that may be required in rolling out such a complex, sizeable program. Controversies with SIHIPs formula on and implementa on have stolen oxygen from the much needed debate on the ongoing provision of housing to remote communi es, outsta ons and urban town camps beyond the programs 2013 comple on date as well as the overarching Na onal Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPA RIH), due to fi nish in 2018. The following items should con nue to be the focus and/or pressure points as SIHIP rolls out; many of these have been noted in Government sourced reviews of SIHIP to date, as well as in the media: With a cap on SIHIP funding of $672m, what will be the impact of any unforeseen cost escala ons that cant be met through the programs con ngency sum? Will the standard of specifi ca on and sizing of houses be reduced to achieve the $450,000 unit cost dictated by the program if required? Will the Federal Governments blunt instrument of required 40 year leaseholds over community housing con nue to be a s cking point for the roll out of the program to communi es? How will the delays in ge ng works underway through the protracted nego a ons around these leaseholds bear out with the prescribed $450,000 unit cost? With Federal, State and Territory Governments in all other contexts looking to NGOs and other developers to grow the level of social housing stock, how (if at all) will Indigenous community housing organisa ons be supported to grow and maintain housing stock, both during the NPA RIH period and beyond? With a ready acceptance that SIHIP is not able to provide refurbishments that meet Territory Housings required standards, will the NT Government look to bring forward funding from remaining NPA RIH funds and other funds to ensure that an appropriate standard is reached? If undertaken concurrently with the SIHIP program this would lessen future contractor mobilisa on costs, and could deliver housing to a level that is more likely to ins ll a sense of ownership for residents. Can the economies of scale (and hence number of houses delivered) that should now be achieved in the la er part of SIHIP, through alliancing, be matched through other procurement methods? With the provision of training to local people a key performance indicator, what would be the impact of disbanding the alliancing model in favour of local and regional organisa ons? What programs are in place to ensure that Government and other prospec ve housing providers learn from the occupancy of both new and refurbished SIHIP houses? Ideally housing will be surveyed through postoccupancy evalua on to determine the performance of this substan al investment; this is cri cal for the proper defi ni on of future housing programs. How will the houses be maintained, and tenancy support programs implemented, to ensure that houses have a lifespan beyond the current average 7 to 12 years? NT Shelter sees the properly funded, wholesale implementa on of a cyclical maintenance program and tenancy support programs by Territory Housing as cri cal to ensuring that new and refurbished houses are suitably maintained, and SIHIPs considerable investment not squandered. References: 1. Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program Review of Program Performance / Australian & Northern Territory Governments (Aug 2009). Refer: h p://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/indigenous/progserv/housing/Pages/sihip.aspx 2. Strategic Indigenous Housing Infrastructure Program (SIHIP) Post Review Assessment (PRA) / Donald, O. & Canty-Waldron, J. (Mar 2010) Refer: h p://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/indigenous/progserv/housing/Pages/sihip.aspx 3. Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program June 2010 Report to the Legisla ve Assembly/Auditor-General for the Northern Territory (June 2010) Refer: h p://www.nt.gov.au/ago/reports/SIHIP%20-%202010.pdf
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