Housing and overcrowding in remote Indigenous communities: Impacts and solutions from a holistic perspective

Petra T. Buergelt, Elaine L. Maypilama, Julia McPhee, Galathi Dhurrkay, Shirley Nirrpuranydji, Sylvia Mänydjurrpuy, Marrayurra Wunungmurra, Timothy Skinner, Anne Lowell, Simon Moss

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Over three years, a $12 million Commonwealth funded consortium project implemented energy efficiency initiatives in six remote Indigenous communities. An ecological community-based participatory action research design that utilized qualitative and quantitative research approaches in a multiple methods design was employed to clarify how YolLatin small letter Engu use power, to identify the barriers and enablers of YolLatin small letter Engu using power wisely, and to evaluate the project. 16 Indigenous co-researchers conducted 125 in-depth qualitative interviews with community members across the six communities in the local languages. The principal non-Indigenous researcher also conducted 24 in-depth qualitative interviews with relevant non-Indigenous community members. All interviews were transcribed and systematically analysed using a combination of content, thematic and narrative analysis strategies. This culturally responsive research design provided the opportunity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members to disclose their perspectives authentically. The analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data revealed that house designs used in remote communities are inappropriate for the tropical climate and for the Australian Indigenous culture and society. Additionally, the housing situation has culminated in overcrowding. The holistic and critical perspective employed identified that climatically and culturally inappropriate housing, and insufficient housing and overcrowding are key contributors to power being used inefficiently and to a myriad of intertwined challenges faced by Indigenous people in remote communities, such as chronic disease, depression, conflict, employment and school attendance. Together, these issues are undermining and challenging the strength and resilience of Indigenous people, harming the very culture that might hold the key to our survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-277
Number of pages8
JournalEnergy Procedia
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017
EventImproving Residential Energy Efficiency International Conference - Wollongong, Australia
Duration: 16 Feb 201717 Feb 2017


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