NSW Aboriginal Housing Office – 25 years of embedding Indigenous advice into government policy 

The Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) and its all-Aboriginal Board was established by an Act of the NSW Parliament in 1998.  Since then, it has provided social housing and services to Aboriginal people in NSW. But on a larger scale it has served as a great example of First Nations empowerment.

Professor Vivienne Milligan has recently written an excellent article titled Embedding indigenous advice in government policy key to real change setting out the significance and achievements of the AHO and the demonstrable benefits of having Aboriginal advisers working in partnership with government. Professor Milligan notes that the AHO came into being at time when indigenous housing policy was clearly failing so the progress has been substantial.

Key AHO achievements include:

  • a strong network of regulated Aboriginal housing organisations has been developed with around 40% of all Aboriginal social housing tenant households in NSW live in Aboriginal-run housing.
  • Aboriginal employment strongly enhanced (over 60% of AHO staff identify as Aboriginal)
  • AHO-funded programs have enabled economic development through engagement of Aboriginal businesses and tradespeople (around 30% of all jobs created through AHO investment are going to Aboriginal people).

Source: Vivienne Milligan, Pearls and Irritations, September 2023

At Shelter NSW we often remark on the creativity and innovation we see coming from the AHO.  Professor Milligan also comments on this, noting examples of the AHO’s award winning program to install hydro-panels that supply in-home pure drinking water in remote towns and its use of prefabricated housing pods as a rapid response to overcrowding and homelessness.

We commend the AHO and its Board for 25 years of service, progress and innovation and thank Professor Milligan for writing this article.