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  • Erin Woolford

New Aboriginal Housing leader appointed

The SA Housing Authority has appointed a prominent Aboriginal affairs bureaucrat to spearhead the rollout a new strategy aimed at reducing the number of First Nations people facing homelessness or living in overcrowded housing.

Kuyani-Arrernte woman Erin Woolford was this week announced the SA Housing Authority’s new Head of Aboriginal Housing and has been tasked with implementing the state’s first stand-alone strategy focussed on addressing issues impacting Aboriginal people in their search for secure housing.

Woolford has spent the past three years working for private consultancy firm PwC and is a former Department of the Premier and Cabinet policy officer.

She has spent the past four decades living in regional and remote communities and is currently in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands consulting people about the Government’s new Aboriginal Housing Strategy.

The strategy was a Marshall Government election promise and is scheduled to be released in the coming months.

Woolford said people had sent a “strong message” that they wanted to work with the Government and other organisations to improve housing for Aboriginal South Australians.

She said the strategy would require Aboriginal communities, the State Government and housing organisations to work in partnership to deliver better housing outcomes.

Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink described Woolford as an “accomplished leader in Aboriginal affairs and policy development” and her new role would be “vital” in “improving housing for Aboriginal people across our state”.

“It is widely understood that better housing is a key factor in closing the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples within Australia,” she said.

“Housing provides a stable place from which to access health services, access and maintain employment, attend school and generally increase social inclusion.

“However, securing safe and affordable housing currently is out of reach for many Aboriginal people – the new strategy will aim to change this.”

It comes after members of the APY Lands executive told a parliamentary inquiry into Aboriginal housing last year that people were forced to sleep outside without power or sufficient water supplies.

It also heard that Anangu people were staying in overcrowded housing in Adelaide while visiting family or receiving medical treatment.

In Adelaide’s CBD, Aboriginal people represent more than 30 per cent of people who are homeless, according to Adelaide Zero Project data.

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