Q Shelter statement supporting the Voice to Parliament

Q Shelter supports the Voice to Parliament.

Q Shelter’s vision is that every Queenslander has a home. We work to positively influence policy and investment in housing solutions and to build system capacity and capability to deliver those solutions.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are over-represented among Queensland’s homeless population and are more likely than other Australians to have unmet housing needs. The rate of homelessness among First Nations Australians is nearly nine times greater than for other Australians.

This includes a greater likelihood of living in overcrowded dwellings. Many First Nations households are paying rent which causes housing stress leading to severe cost of living pressures on essential items such as food, transport, and utilities. Many children miss out on participation in community life because there simply isn’t enough money to play sports, join clubs and enjoy other activities that enrich lives and improve well-being.

It is critical to talk about the long-term impacts of lower rates of home ownership. Only 42 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households owned their own home with or without a mortgage compared with 68 per cent for the broader population. Fifty-six per cent are renting compared to 31 per cent.

A significant amount of household wealth is generated from home ownership in Australia yet First Nations households are much less likely to own a home with serious consequences for the distribution of wealth long term. While poverty endures for more First Nations households during younger ages, older age is also less secure. And with less wealth to pass on, the wealth divide widens, and future generations continue to be left out.

Housing is a human right and a key social determinant of health. People cannot flourish without a safe and secure place to call home that they can afford. As long as First Nations Australians are so far behind other Australians when it comes to having access to secure, affordable and appropriate housing, the Voice to Parliament will be essential.

Enshrining the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution also prevents instability in the structural arrangements to ensure First Nations’ voices are heard. We will not make progress on key matters such as housing if we don’t have an enduring mechanism to ensure influence and impact.

To people who suggest that the Voice to Parliament is divisive, I urge further reflection. Until every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian has a home they can afford that meets their needs; and when housing ownership distributes wealth fairly and evenly regardless of race, our work is not finished.

Our Constitution will help to hold us all to account as we navigate the future. Year after year, we must measurably reduce the inequalities that remain. The voices of people with lived experience of these inequalities must be central to our progress. These voices deserve an embedded structural arrangement that endures. Q Shelter supports the Voice to Parliament without hesitation as we reflect on the past and imagine a different future.  We support the Voice to Parliament and look forward to doing everything we can to ensure every Queenslander has a home.

Fiona Caniglia

Executive Director