Sustainability: Its adaptation and relevance in remote area housing

Rosemarie Rusch
Rick Best


Little consideration has been given to the context of housing in remote areas.  It is important for the economic survival of many remote communities that appropriate and sustainable housing solutions are decided and implemented.

This report examines housing at St Pauls, Moa Island in the Torres Strait, using site information, historical research and a review of cultural and geo-political factors to compare the current model with similar studies in self-build housing undertaken in the region between 1986 and 1992. 

It not only demonstrates tangible economic benefits, but also evaluates the environmental and social improvements which can be achieved with a re-examination of the existing model.  It is important to consider the value of investing in policies and practices of sustainable development that can play a pivotal role in potential capacity building within such communities.

Current land tenure policy means that families wishing to own their own homes must leave St Pauls, or build illegally.  Economically they cannot establish businesses so must leave the island or remain on welfare.  The result of this is an exponential increase in the cost of providing community housing and the associated increase in social and health stresses.  Acknowledgement at a policy level of the links between social and emotional well-being, and ‘Closing the Gap’ initiatives, have the potential to offer a wide range of funding opportunities and innovative approaches to solving the housing crisis in remote Australia, if they can be implemented in an open and effective manner.


Housing, Sustainability, Remote area

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