FAR Northern indigenous communities are urging the Federal Government to extend its housing investment package that is due to end this month.

Lockhart Shire Council Mayor Wayne Butcher said overcrowding was a critical issue in his community.

The lack of housing was raised by him and other councils at the annual indigenous forum in Cairns yesterday.

“In Lockhart I’ve got 52 people on the waiting list for housing in a population of 700,” Mr Butcher said.

There was an average of 10 people per three-bedroom house, often with three generations under the one roof, he said.

A 10-year state and federal building program — the National Partnership on Remote Housing (NPRH) — will end on June 30, which raises questions about the future public housing construction across indigenous communities.

“The 17 indigenous shires in Queensland are urging the government to extend the NPRH investment because the first 10 years has just scratched the surface,” Mr Butcher said.

The round table was a chance for the assembled councils to express their concerns with the Local Government Association of Queensland.

LGAQ CEO Greg Hallam said inaccurate data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics was a bug bear of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait councils.

“They want to change the way population data is collected — they think their populations are underestimated, and that affects matters such as funding,” Mr Hallam said.

The councils also highlighted alcohol management plans as an issue of concern.

AMPs were rolled out in 2002 in Queensland’s 19 indigenous communities covering 15 Local Government Areas.

The AMPs aimed to reduce alcohol-related violence and include restrictions on the type and quantity of liquor brought in to a community.

Mr Hallam said the councils’ leadership believed in “regulation rather than prohibition”.

“It (prohibition) is breeding anti-social behaviour such as binge drinking,” he said.

READ: Cairns Post