Remote Indigenous housing procurement: A comparative study

James Davidson, Paul Memmott, Carroll Go-Sam, Elizabeth Grant

Research output: Book/ReportReportspeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Partly due to the paucity of research in this field, the current research project is a valuable addition to the body of knowledge regarding housing procurement processes in remote Aboriginal communities in Australia. It has the potential to create greater awareness of good practice administrative processes leading to more positive outcomes of culturally responsive housing by using the social and economic capitals that Aboriginal people can bring to procurement. If there has been one clear outcome from this research project, it is that the procurement process is arguably just as important as the final housing product itself. Focus needs to be placed on a meaningful process and the product that eventuates must conform to statutory and regulatory standards. Procurement driven by the scenario of maximum numbers of houses on the ground as fast as possible ignores the potential to value add multiple Aboriginal social and economic capitals.

History shows Aboriginal housing to be a politically contested realm as two quite different peoples attempt to negotiate different social, economic and cultural values in constructing a shared future Australian built environment. Housing procurement, defined herein as 'the act or process of bringing into being a building that was not there before and embraces all the activities that might be necessary to that objective', has at times been sporadically linked to other forms of government service delivery outcomes and objectives in remote Aboriginal communities such as construction, maintenance, training, employment, education, governance, management, health, and sustainability. Yet still further program values have emerged in recent years that can best be described as 'symbolic capitals' inclusive of leadership, mutual respect, positive cultural identity and other life-skills outcomes.

Secondary outcomes of the housing process are what we loosely term the 'socio-economic capitals' of housing procurement: outcomes that are in addition to the physical asset of the house. Specifically, this study explores the relationships between remote Indigenous housing procurement and the broader socio-economic capitals of Indigenous communities. It contributes to an understanding of the potential longer-term economic, social, health and cultural outcomes of current and future housing policies and housing delivery programs.

Remote Indigenous housing procurement practice occurs in a complex context of political, market, and industry dynamics. Achieving high-level outcomes beyond the physical units of houses is fraught with difficulty in these contexts. Despite this, there are some procurement success stories and, with this in mind, this project aims to assess what has been achieved during the last decade in the procurement of Aboriginal housing, as grounded in actual practice. The delivery of Aboriginal housing, if done well, would not only diminish livelihood vulnerabilities, but would also strengthen self-governance and generate services responsive to community demand. The significance of a better understanding of housing procurement systems within the context of remote Indigenous communities has potential benefit for all peoples engaged in the built environment sector.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherAustralian Housing and Urban Research Institute
Commissioning bodyAustralian Housing and Urban Research Institute
Number of pages143
ISBN (Electronic) 9781921610707
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAHURI Final Report
ISSN (Print)1834-7223


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