The development, integration and impact of Yuwaya Ngarrali’s housing project has been a particular highlight over 2022-2023. While housing shortage and quality has been a long-term concern for the Dharriwaa Elders Group and others in Walgett, the level and severity of unmet housing need during COVID brought fresh attention and momentum to this area. A COVID-related underspend allowed Yuwaya Ngarrali to engage Wiradjuri housing researcher and Masters of Architecture student Samantha Rich to progress the development of models of housing that could respond to community priorities and the local context including accommodation to support the diversion of young people from the justice system, crisis accommodation and Elders housing. Sam’s Elders housing project has received multiple awards, and the innovative youth diversion accommodation that has been designed to be a core element of the new Youth Wellbeing Service is groundbreaking as a model to address the social determinants of justice for Aboriginal young people in Walgett and elsewhere.

Walgett water towers

DEG and WAMS developed a joint statement about the high levels of homelessness in Walgett 13 July 2023 when we learnt that Homelessness NSW was preparing a campaign. The statement outlined our understanding of the situation, and evidence from our advocacy in the past.

DEG believes that "The current model for providing social housing is broken and must be changed" and outlines in the statement its plans for supported accommodation being developed in Yuwaya Ngarrali with Wiradjuri building designer Samantha Rich.

"Dharriwaa Elders Group and Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service call for local, NSW and
Commonwealth governments to:

  • audit the NSW Roads to Home6 program to reduce building contractor rorts and bring
    better outcomes for Walgett LALC tenants;
  • step in to ensure the building of the new Dept. of Communities and Justice women’s
    safe house is urgently resumed so that more women can be supported to independent
    living and homeless men can be housed properly and not left in motel rooms without
    the meals and other supports they need.
  • provide urgent project management and capital supports to community social housing
    providers so they can better meet the housing needs of the Walgett Aboriginal
    community. This will require ongoing funding to ensure that existing housing stock is
    properly maintained, and increased funding for a new, more humane management
    business model. Local trades workforce development, and the building of new
    culturally-appropriate houses suitable for the climate and long-term conditions are
    also urgently required.
  • make more land available for social housing and supported accommodation within the
    levee bank.
  • pro-actively prepare Walgett for climate resilience including the provision of non-profit
    community-owned sustainable energy solutions and negotiated insurance premiums
    for nonprofit community organisations and community social housing providers.
  • fund Dharriwaa Elders Group plans for supported accommodation for Elders, children
    and young people and emergency accommodation options for when families are
    affected by floods, fire, pandemics and sudden life events rendering them homeless. "