Audit report damns Indigenous home ownership program -Greens

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has released a damning report on the ill-conceived Home Ownership on Indigenous Land (HOIL) program.

"The report indicates that the four year, $107.4 million* program (of which $49.2m has been spent to date) resulted in only 15 Indigenous families taking out home loans through the program - significantly less than the 460 loan target of the program," said Senator Rachel Siewert, Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal Issues.

The program was established in 2006 by the Howard Government under Mal Brough in the face of objections from the Australian Greens, and then continued by the Rudd and Gillard Governments.

"Administration of the program alone accounted for $9.9 million - and FaHCSIA were unable to find a single buyer for the 45 new houses they built, eventually handing them over to the Northern Territory Government.

"The Australian Greens attempted to warn the Senate at the time the HOIL program was introduced and enabling changes to the Northern Territory Aboriginal Land Rights Act were forced through the Senate that the program was ill-conceived and likely to fail.

"Private home ownership in remote Indigenous communities was being presented as a panacea to disadvantage in Aboriginal communities, when clearly it isn't.

"There are significant barriers to Indigenous Australians owning their homes in remote communities - such as very low levels of household income, the high cost of remote housing, low levels of family savings, capital and access to credit.

"Successive governments have sought to blame the communal ownership of land in remote communities for extremely low levels of private ownership, but as the failure of this program has clearly demonstrated there are other much more significant barriers.

"There is also a great deal of concern that communities are being forced into land tenure changes that they do not necessarily support.

"This is yet another stark example of the way in which an ideologically-driven policy developed without community consultation and any sort of evidence base invariably leads to failure in Indigenous affairs," Senator Siewert concluded.