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Labor warning on indigenous housing review

AAP logoAAP 21/11/2016 Lucy Hughes Jones

Remote indigenous community Yuendumu in central Australia © AAP Image/Australian Lawyers for Remote Aboriginal Rights Remote indigenous community Yuendumu in central Australia Labor welcomes a review into indigenous housing, but warns the federal government can't use it to avoid committing urgently needed funding.

The Turnbull government last week announced an independent, community-led review of government policy to address overcrowding, homelessness and poor housing conditions in remote Australia.

Federal Labor MP Warren Snowdon and Senator Pat Dodson insist it can't be used as an excuse for inaction on the appalling reality confronting Aboriginal communities across the country.

A Productivity Commission report released last week found nearly 50 per cent of Aboriginal people in remote communities live in overcrowded housing, and there has been no significant improvement in access to clean water, functional sewerage and electricity.

These are primary factors that contribute to poor health and education outcomes as well as child safety and family violence, Mr Snowdon says.

"Addressing housing inequity is a human rights issue which should be a priority for all levels of government," he said.

The report also found only 34 of 1000 targeted Aboriginal programs had been properly evaluated.

"The lack of evaluation is a direct result of the Turnbull government's funding cuts to this portfolio. Nothing positive can come if we don't thoroughly examine what works and what doesn't," Senator Dodson said.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has said the review would consult with indigenous communities and businesses, housing service providers, peak bodies, land councils and state governments.

Three experienced and respected Aboriginal leaders will be involved in the review process, including the review's co-chairs Robert Griew and Rachelle Towart.

Labor wants to work collaboratively with the review team.

"It is critical this review is inclusive of and takes heed of the voices of those affected if it is going to have the impact that is required," Senator Dodson said.

"In Western Australia there are communities where asbestos is prolific and there appears to be no plan for either the state or the federal government to remove (it)."

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