20 December 2020

Second long-term housing development for older Indigenous Canberrans opens

| Dominic Giannini
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ATSI Housing opening at Lyons. Photo: Supplied.

Canberra’s second Indigenous-specific, long-term housing development has opened for older members of Canberra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Gundji Gindilan – which means ‘joyful home’ in Ngunnawal language and was selected by elders – has five two-to-three bedroom units. The housing development follows the opening of the Mura Gunya site in Kambah in 2016.

Chairperson of the ACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elected body Katrina Fanning welcomed the opening, saying that it delivered a practical and sustainable solution for the Indigenous community.

“These units illustrate what can be achieved when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are meaningfully engaged in decision-making processes,” she said.

“The Elected Body has worked in partnership with the ACT Government to deliver this unique housing opportunity, with design features that support our older community members who have caring responsibilities in a culturally appropriate way.”

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A smoking ceremony was held at the site in February this year and ashes were spread in September ahead of the official opening in mid-December.

Minister for Housing and Suburban Development Yvette Berry said the spreading of ashes in the shared meeting and storytelling space ensures that the cleansing effect from the smoking ceremony is retained on-site, providing future residents with ongoing cultural and healing benefits.

“The ACT Government has worked together with the ACT Government Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body to identify a suitable site and design a culturally sensitive development that meets the needs of tenants,” she said.

“It has been really great to see this development progress through the uniquely cultural proceedings to prepare it for welcoming older community members.”

A third dedicated housing development for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprising five two-bedroom houses will be built in Dickson at a cost of $2.5 million.

Construction is expected to be completed in late 2021.

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