10 May 2023

Mayor to PM: Urgent action needed on housing

| Samuel Davis
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At the Horn Island jetty last Thursday – Senator Nita Green, TSIRC mayor Philemon Mosby, Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney, Torres Shire mayor Yen Loban, NPARC mayor Patricia Yusia, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and TSRA chairman Pedro Stephen.

CAPE York mayor Patricia Yusia doesn’t want to talk about the Indigenous Voice to parliament.

Not while a desperate housing crisis is crippling her communities in the Northern Peninsula Area.

So, when Cr Yusia met with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Horn Island last Thursday, the discussion was to the point.

“We will never overcome health and education issues until we address overcrowding,” she said.

“We think the Voice is important but the NPA is still very concerned about overcrowding issues we have.”

The Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council estimates it needs around 160 more houses to meet demand.

“And they will be filled straight away,” Cr Yusia said.

“Grown up children are living with their parents and their children’s children are living there.”

As many as a dozen people are living in three-bedroom homes, sleeping mattress-to-mattress on living room floors, Cr Yusia said.

“We still have three-to-four families living under the one roof,” she told Cape York Weekly.

“How can you get to sleep at the right time when other families are running around?

“How are we going to Close the Gap? It won’t happen with the way we are living now.”

Cr Yusia also met with Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney on Horn Island and invited the Minister to visit the NPA.

“She did say she’s going to come,” the mayor said

“I’m going to hold her to her word. I said, ‘You need to see your people’. We need support.”

NPARC was the only Cape York council invited to meet with the PM during his two-day visit to the Torres Strait.

Torres and Cape Indigenous Councils Alliance chair Robbie Sands said the Voice would help in the future but urgent action was needed now.

“I would say to the Prime Minister, keep going ahead with the referendum but at the same time put some programs in place to work towards achieving equity,” the Kowanyama mayor said.

“We all see the Voice as an important stepping stone for Indigenous people in Australia but there also have to be practical steps towards reconciliation.

“It should be equity based and about access to health services, housing and jobs.”

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