Two innovative SGS projects have been recognised in the Planning Institute of Australia's Queensland Division 2004 Awards. "Evaluation of the Central Remote Housing Model" won the Award for Excellence in the Housing category. The "Valley Heart Masterplan", commissioned by Brisbane City Council and the Valley Malls Advisory Committee, was awarded a Certificate of Merit in the Urban Planning Achievement category.
"Evaluation of the Central Remote Housing Model" evaluated a new model of housing delivery to remote indigenous communities in central Australia. As the Housing category winner, the project is automatically entered into PIA's National Awards to be presented in Bendigo in 2005.
Timely and coordinated housing delivery is very important to remote Indigenous communities, where there are often urgent housing needs from vulnerable sectors of the community. Delays can exacerbate often already serious health problems, increase overcrowding and lead to excessive wear on existing housing. Timely provision of housing can keep down construction costs, which are up to 80% higher in remote communities in Australia when compared to urban environments.
In April 2003, the Indigenous Housing Authority of Northern Territory (IHANT) commissioned SGS Economics and Planning Pty Ltd (SGS), together with Paul Howorth Strategic Planning and Far North Strategies Pty Ltd, to conduct an evaluation of the Central Remote Indigenous Housing Delivery Model (previously known as the Papunya Model). The Central Remote region is situated within the Northern Territory, surrounding (but not including) Alice Springs.
The Central Remote Model (CRM) was a pilot housing program aimed at achieving greater efficiency in the delivery of Indigenous Housing and the development of training and employment opportunities related to housing construction within remote communities. The CRM process centralised the design selection of housing, which resulted in communities being able to select from 6 housing designs, and allocated one project manager to oversee all construction contracts. It was piloted to determine whether it should replace the ‘former model' where consultation, design and construction contracts for communities were let on a contract by contract basis, an approach that was achieving fragmented and inconsistent housing outcomes throughout the region.
The study made several major findings and recommendations. Some $138 million could be saved over a 30 year period under the CRM when compared to costs under former models. A cost neutral outcome could be achieved by implementing the training and employment program associated with the provision of housing, if jobs were available at the end of their apprenticeships. There is a link between the economic and social capacity of remote communities and the ability to achieve good economic and social housing outcomes. Whilst the physical provision of housing for remote communities would achieve cost and coordination efficiencies through regionally centralised project management, the capacities of individual communities to successfully accept intensive housing programs needed to be assessed. Where limitations were found in a community's capacity to implement training programs, programs that will help the community to develop its capacity should be implemented prior to and/or parallel with other programs. Assessment of housing need and capacity should continue to be undertaken on a regional basis