Improving housing responses to Indigenous patterns of temporary mobility

Improving housing responses to Indigenous patterns of temporary mobility Report

AHURI Final Report

  • Author(s): Habibis, D., Birdsall-Jones, C., Dunbar, T., Gabriel, M., Scrimgeour, M., Taylor, E., Nethercote, M.
  • Published: 2011
  • Publisher: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute

Abstract: This project was concerned with Indigenous patterns of mobility and social housing responses to these patterns. The research identified types of mobility amongst Indigenous people and the link between mobility and the risk of falling into homelessness. It also outlined how housing policy-makers might respond to increased rates of temporary mobility of Indigenous people. The research involved case studies in Western Australia, South Australia, and the Northern Territory. It involved a literature review, administrative data analysis and a total of 116 interviews with service providers and Indigenous service users. Indigenous temporary mobility refers to the short-term movement of Indigenous individuals and families in ways that impact on service demand. It includes a wide range of motives and practices and is underpinned by kinship relationships and a moral economy of cooperation and mutuality. The temporary mobility of Indigenous individuals and families should not be judged as a problem in itself. The real problem is that much of it is forced, arising from, and maintained by, a mix of severe housing shortage, structural disadvantage, cultural difference and poverty. Housing services have difficulty distinguishing between culturally motivated temporary mobility and involuntary housing exclusion. This study identifies seven ‘mobility groups’, which are distinguished by their degree of voluntariness of travel and length of absence from home. The risk of homelessness is likely to increase with the length of absence and the degree of involuntariness of the travel taken. Housing policy responses need to adapt to these distinctions by providing for temporary mobility within the social housing sector (presently flexibility is limited). In addition, present policies addressing service provision in remote and regional Australia are encouraging movement from smaller to larger communities. This is contributing to ‘population churn’ (population in- and out-flows experienced within a given area), potentially increasing Indigenous homelessness. Strategies for addressing temporary mobility include: provision of appropriate hostel style accommodation and well-managed camp sites; recognition of key hosts and provision of additional space in households that host many visitors; integrating housing support with drug and alcohol and mental health services; and more flexible, and well communicated policies in relation to tenant absences.

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Habibis, D., Birdsall-Jones, C., Dunbar, T., Gabriel, M., Scrimgeour, M., Taylor, E., Nethercote, M. , 2011, Improving housing responses to Indigenous patterns of temporary mobility, Report, viewed 18 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=3740.

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