About ERA

1. What is the Employment Related Accommodation Program?

What is the Employment Related Accommodation Program?

In order to apply for ERA accommodation, you must:

  • be an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person
  • be over 18 years old
  • have a connection to a remote community
  • prove your enrolment in an education or training course at an approved institution such as university or TAFE
  • show that the employer offers long-term opportunities.

If you have a connection to a remote area and you want to move to a regional area where there are more opportunities for work and study, the ERA program aims to assist you with secure and affordable accommodation for the duration of your education or training, or while you become established in your new job.

If you’re a single person taking up this option you will move into a fully furnished share-accommodation house. You will have your own room and share the living, kitchen, laundry and bathroom areas with other people in a similar situation.

If you have a family and you take up an opportunity to work or study in a regional centre, under the scheme, you can take your immediate family (spouse and children) with you. Accommodation is unfurnished so that you can bring your own belongings with you.

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2. Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

On this page:

Our frequently asked questions section should contain all the information you need and more. The questions and answers are broken down into sections listed below. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please email us. You can also download our brochure.

About ERA

What is the Employment Related Accommodation Program?

Employment Related Accommodation (ERA) is a program run by the Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) that allows Aboriginal people from or with a connection to remote NSW the opportunity to take up work or study in a regional centre, by providing affordable short-medium term accommodation.

Why was ERA established?

ERA was established to help Aboriginal people from remote areas to seek better work and study opportunities in larger regional centres. It aims to provide accommodation to encourage more people from remote areas to study and seek out better work opportunities in bigger regional centres.

How is ERA funded?

ERA is a joint Commonwealth and State Government initiative funded under the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing.

Where are houses located?

We currently have homes in 17 locations across NSW.

Living in an ERA home

Do I have to share with other people?

It depends on your situation. If you are a single person moving to a regional centre on your own, you will be sharing a 3 to 4 bedroom house with up to two or three other people in a similar situation. If however, you intend to move and bring your immediate family with you, we can provide a whole house for you and your family to move into.

How many people will I be sharing with?

If you are moving into an ERA home on your own, you will be sharing the house with up to two or three other people. If you are moving to an ERA home with your family, you will not be sharing the house with anyone else.

Which areas of the house will I have to share with others?

You will share all areas of the house with your housemates, except your bedroom. That means you will share the living room, dining room, bathroom, kitchen, laundry and external areas.

I have a family – can they come with me?

Yes. Your immediate family can move into an ERA house with you. All family homes are unfurnished so you will need to bring your own belongings. However, in some cases student homes may be used as family homes, in which case they will be furnished.

What are the houses like?

The houses are much like a regular family home – they are safe and comfortable. They generally have 3 to 4 bedrooms (each with its own lock), and common areas including a lounge and dining room, kitchen, bathroom, laundry and yard.

What furnishings are included in the house?

Houses for single people have three or four bedrooms, each containing a single bed, desk, small bookcase and a chest of drawers. In the common areas there is a dining table, two sofas, fridge, stove, microwave, kettle, toaster and washing machine. The kitchen contains almost everything you need from pots, pans and dinner plates, to glasses, cutlery and a can opener.

Family houses are usually unfurnished so that you can bring your own belongings with you.

Can I bring my own furniture?

If you are moving into an ERA house on your own and sharing with others, your room will be already furnished so there is no need to bring your own furniture. If however, you are moving in to an ERA home with your family, you will be required to bring your own furniture and belongings.

What will I need to bring with me to the house?

Bring with you anything you think you might need for the duration of your study or work. Here is a brief list of suggestions:

  • Clothing
  • Bedding (sheets, pillow, blankets, quilt etc)
  • Towels
  • Toiletries
  • Personal items
  • Mementos or photos
  • Personal computer, laptop, notebook or tablet device

Will my bedroom have a lock on it?

Yes. Each bedroom door has a lock on it.

Are the homes air conditioned?

Public housing properties do not generally contain air conditioning units.

These homes generally incorporate environmentally sustainable features such as natural cross ventilation and ceiling fans – which reduce the need for air conditioning – and energy efficient lighting and appliances to reduce the amount of power consumed.

Does the kitchen have a dishwasher?

No, ERA homes do not have a dishwasher.

Is there a TV in the house?

No. There are no televisions in ERA homes. You are welcome to bring your own TV.

Are there any phone, internet or PayTV connections in the house?

While the houses are wired to enable access to phone, internet and PayTV, none of these services are connected. You may if you wish, connect any or all of these services, but you will have to pay any installation and ongoing costs.

If I connect the phone, internet or PayTV, can others in the house use the connections?

This is entirely up to you. Like any other house-share situation, you will need to negotiate the shared use of everything from the washing machine, fridge and any services you connect. You will need to discuss sharing any connections and costs with your housemates.

Is off street parking provided?

It depends on the house, but generally there will be room for one or two cars to park off the street. Parking on lawns is not permitted. You will have to share any off-street parking spots with your housemates.

Am I allowed to smoke inside an ERA house?

No. You are not permitted to smoke inside an ERA home. You are permitted to smoke in outdoor areas, but cigarette butts must be extinguished and disposed of in a rubbish bin.

Am I allowed to have a pet in ERA accommodation?

No. You are not allowed any pets in an ERA home.

How long can I stay in the house?

If you are taking up ERA accommodation to study, you can stay in the home for the duration of your course or study.

If you are taking up ERA accommodation to accept a work offer, you will be allowed to stay for up to 12 months or for the duration of your employment contract if less than 12 months.

Financial

How much rent will I pay?

Our rents are set to be affordable and in line with the cost of living. Singles pay $135 per week for their room (as of July 2013), while families are charged the AHO’s Build and Grow rent (which does not exceed 25% of household income or market rent) for the whole house.

Do I need to pay rental bond?

Yes. The bond is, in most instances, equivalent to four weeks rent.

How often do I have to pay rent?

Rent is payable weekly. Rent can be paid by cheque, direct deposit, or in person at your Community Housing Provider or through Centrepay.

Do I get any assistance in paying rent?

You may be eligible to apply for Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) through Centrelink

Who do I pay rent to?

You will pay rent to your local Community Housing Provider. Once you have applied and been accepted to take up ERA, you complete an induction where all the details about how and where to pay your rent, who to call if you have a problem etc will be provided to you.

Will living in ERA accommodation affect my Centrelink payments?

No, it will not.

Who pays the bills?

If you are a student in shared accommodation, your utilities will be included in the rent. This includes electricity, water and rates. However should you decide to install a phone line, internet connection or payTV, you will have to pay for these services yourself. If your electricity or water usage is deemed excessive, you may be asked to pay the excess usage fees.

If you are in a family home, you will be required to pay your own utility bills.

What other expenses can I expect?

You will be responsible for buying your own food, cleaning products, clothes etc. Should you decide to connect phone, internet or pay TV you will also have to pay these costs. Your housemates may be willing to share these costs with you.

Applying for ERA

How do I apply?

You can call (02) 8836 9444 to have an application mailed or emailed to you, you can visit one of our regional offices or you can download an application form.

What are the selection criteria?

You need to be over 18, of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, have a connection to or come from, a community or area classified as remote under the Accessibility and Remoteness Index Australia, prove your enrolment in an education or training course or show a letter of offer from an employer.

My family comes from a remote area, but I don’t – can I still apply?

Yes you can still apply. If you have a connection to, or family in a remote area, and you meet all of the other criteria, you can apply for ERA.

How old do I have to be to apply?

You must be 18 years of age or older.

Do I need to show proof that I am studying?

Yes, you will need to show proof of enrolment in an education or training course at an approved institution such as university or TAFE.

Do I need to show proof that I have been offered a job in a regional area?

Yes. You will need to show a letter of offer from your new employer and you will need to provide evidence that the employer offers long-term opportunities.

Do I have to confirm my Aboriginality?

Yes you will be required to confirm your Aboriginality.

Do I have to fill in lots of forms?

No. We try and make the application process quick and easy so that you have one less thing to worry about when you’re about to start working or studying. There is just one simple form to complete and you may be required to visit your local Community Housing Provider.

What sort of information will I need to gather for my application?

You will need to show a birth certificate, proof of enrolment in a university/TAFE or letter of offer from your new employer, demonstrate connection to remote NSW, and confirmation of Aboriginality

Some friends are also thinking of moving to a regional centre – can we apply as a group to share a house?

If you all meet the criteria for ERA accommodation, all application assessments will be assessed individually. We cannot however guarantee that you and your friends will be allocated an ERA house all together.

When should I apply for an ERA placement?

We accept applications all year round, but you should apply as soon as you find out that you have been accepted into a university/TAFE or as soon as you have been offered a job.

How long does the application process take?

Once you have lodged your forms, you should find out whether or not you have been successful within one week.

How will I find out if my application has been successful?

We will notify you by mail and follow up with a phone call to let you know whether or not your application has been successful.

Maintaining an ERA home

Who will clean the house?

You and your housemates will be responsible for keeping the house clean, tidy and in good condition. You will have to negotiate a roster of chores with your housemates to ensure dishes are washed, floors are cleaned, rubbish is taken out and the house is generally kept clean and tidy.

Will I have to mow the lawns?

Student Homes: No. Maintenance of the lawns will be taken care of by the Community Housing Provider.

Family Homes: Yes. You are required to maintain lawns.

For both homes you will however be required to keep the yard clean, tidy and free from rubbish.

Does anyone check the house before I move in or while I am in there?

An inspection will be carried out before you move in to ensure the house is ready for you. You will also have the opportunity to review the property condition report and provide a copy to your housing manager.

Regular inspections on the house will be carried out to ensure the house is being looked after, is not damaged, and does not need repairs.

Can I hang pictures on walls?

You are not permitted to drill holes or drive nails into the walls in any ERA home. You will need to check with your Community Housing Provider if you can hang pictures on the wall using removable hooks.

How will I know how to operate the appliances in the house?

Instruction manuals for the washing machine and microwave will be inside the house. Simple instructions on how to operate the appliances will also be provided to you and if you are still unsure you can contact your Community Housing Provider.

Further information

I’m thinking about moving, but want to find out more about the town – where can I get this information?

Information about all the regional areas where ERA homes are located can be found on our Locations page. You can find out what universities and TAFES are in each town, what recreational activities are available, transport options, links to employment sites, and lots more.

How can I find out more information about universities/TAFES and courses offered near ERA homes?

Find ERA Locations here.

Who do I call if I have a query or problem?

Generally if you have a problem or query you can contact your Community Housing Provider. When you move into your ERA home, you will be provided with a welcome kit that will detail who to call if you have a problem.

What happens if I lose my job or decide to leave Uni/TAFE?

If you lose your job we will continue to provide housing while you to find a new job and then settle in for up to three (3) months. If after this time you have not secured employment we will go through the options with you.

If you decide to leave university, TAFE or other training, and do not plan to return to study, you will be asked to vacate your accommodation.

If however, you plan to find a job, we can continue to provide accommodation for up to three (3) months while you seek employment. If you do find employment, you can then continue to stay in your ERA house for up to 12 months.

What happens if I get married while living in an ERA house? Can I still stay in the single room with my spouse?

Yes but only for a limited time while you put in a request to move into a family home. If none are available you will be put on a waiting list.

Can visitors stay with me? If so, for how long?

Yes. We understand that you may get homesick or need some support from home. You can have one friend or relative stay with you for a period of up to two weeks – though you will need to get approval from your Community Housing Provider beforehand.

Can I extend my stay in an ERA house?

No. ERA does not provide long term housing and is available only for the duration of your course or for up to the first 12 months in your new job.

However, if you put your request in writing to your Community Housing Provider or your regional AHO office, your situation will be carefully assessed. While we cannot guarantee that your stay will be extended, we will notify you either way.

Will I get assistance to transition to market rental?

Yes. Your Community Housing Provider will help you to develop an exit plan prior to you leaving your ERA house – this includes securing a market rental property.

Rent assistance is available from Centrelink.

Is there a forum where I can talk to other ERA tenants?

No. At present there is no online forum where ERA tenants can chat to each other.

Where can I find more information?

You can find out more information from the AHO regional offices.

If there any questions that are not answered here please email us.

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3. Locations

Locations

ERA homes can be found in the following locations.

Please note that none of what follows purports to be original. It is an amalgamation put together by the Aboriginal Housing Office from various sources. Major source material can be found on each location’s official website listed at the end of each section.

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4. Testimonials

Testimonials

Gemma Says, "Just Go For It"

Gemma aged 23, is a primary school teacher who is making the most of the Aboriginal Housing Office’s (AHO) Employment Related Accommodation (ERA) program in Bathurst.

“It’s nice to have an affordable home to go to at the end of the day where I can feel comfortable and safe. It really does feel like a home which is so much better than coming home to a dormitory, which might have been one of my only alternatives”, said Gemma.

“It is very competitive to find a rental home in Bathurst and that was something I didn’t need to be stressed over.

“I heard about ERA by word of mouth. The application process was so simple and straightforward, and I appreciated that,” continued Gemma.

Gemma highly recommends the ERA program to any Aboriginal person wanting to move from a remote area to a regional centre and offers this advice - “just go for it. I encourage anyone to move away and study because it will benefit not only you but your whole family”.

Now teaching Year 1, Gemma has gone from strength to strength and has plans for further study, this time in law at Macquarie University, through distance education.

Opportunities Abound For This Happy Family

Katy Jasper, her husband Mark, and daughters Chantelle 16 years, and Shakiyah 9, have flourished since moving from Wilcannia to Dubbo.

“The ERA program really works. If it wasn’t for program we would never have moved to Dubbo and we wouldn’t have had access to the opportunities that come in a regional centre” said Katy.

Katy was a Primary Health Worker in Wilcannia and Mark worked for Murdi Paaki Regional Housing Corporation. While they both held good jobs and were happy with their work, they worried about their children’s education.

“Our move to Dubbo has meant the kids’ education has improved immensely and our daughter Shakiyah in particular, has really come out of her shell since the move. She’s now a member of the local Red Cross and has joined a local choir, and both kids are doing really well in school – Chantelle is in Year 11 this year.

“The best thing about the ERA house is that it has improved our prospects. My husband got a better job than what he had in Wilcannia, and I’m now working for Compass Housing and helping people which is my thing – I love to help people.

“If I have any advice for people in remote areas thinking about moving to a regional centre, it would be to just take the initiative and do it! There are more opportunities in a bigger place and the ERA program is a great start – we wouldn’t have made the move without a house to go to. And be persistent – things like better jobs might not come straight away, but if you hang in there, it will happen.”

Katy said while she had a job in admin when she first moved, she wanted to be out in the field helping people. She applied for many jobs before landing the role of Housing Manager with Compass Housing, and has never looked back.

Since moving to Dubbo, Katy has also commenced a Certificate IV course in Social Housing at Dubbo TAFE. “I’m really excited about finishing in December, and putting my skills to good use to help others,” said Katy enthusiastically.

Young Guns

Nyoka Boney, aged 19 and Jessica Clark, 18, are finding their independence thanks to the Aboriginal Housing Office’s Employment Related Accommodation program.

The girls share a three bedroom ERA property in Dubbo that was offered to them to so they could complete the Indigenous Police Recruitment Our Way Delivery (IPROWD) Training Program at Dubbo TAFE. The IPROWD training program assists Aboriginal people to gain entry into the NSW Police Force and is the result of a partnership between the Australian Government, the NSW Police Force, TAFE NSW and Charles Sturt University.

After completing Year 12, Jessica moved from Warren to Dubbo to complete the IPROWD course on the advice of her Aboriginal Advisor at Warren Central High School.

“I’m the eldest of four kids and when I told my family what I planned to do, they were shocked. They didn’t think I’d do anything with my life, but now they’ve seen what I’ve achieved and are supportive and proud of me,” said Jessica.

Nyoka, who also completed Year 12, previously lived with her Mum and 12 other family members and had a very different reaction from her family, “my Mum was all for it and she was hoping I’d get a placement even further away to make it harder for me, and really teach me to stand on my own two feet,” she said.

“It’s a great opportunity and has made a real difference to my life. I’ve learnt to manage money, buy my own food and cook for myself. It’s made me more independent.

“The course is tough, but it’s getting us ready for the Police Force. It’s a very good course and Peter Gibbs (IPROWD mentor) puts his heart into the course and gives it 100%. He makes us want to become police officers even more!” continued Nyoka.

Jessica said, “I found moving from home an enjoyable thing because I found independence, so it’s wonderful. It has made me more mature and grow up a bit so I can look after myself.

“I’ve learnt how to use money and save my money more, and I’ve learnt to cook!” she said.

Asked what advice they would pass on to others thinking of leaving home to complete the IPROWD training program Nyoka said, “It’s a great opportunity even if you don’t want to become a police officer. It’s a great course that lets you do other things, like become a security guard.

“It can be a bit scary at times, going from a house full of people all the time, to just one other. When I lived with Mum, I wouldn’t have wanted to move away to the Police Academy, but now that I live on my own, I’m up for it.”

Jessica added, “The course is wonderful, I really do love it. The best part is the theory leading up to getting into the Police Academy. TAFE has become part of my everyday routine and I couldn’t go without it. My advice would be to learn to use a washing machine – I had no clue how to wash clothes!

“Our ERA house is very nice and huge and I get along really well with my housemate.”

The girls are looking forward to completing their IPROWD course before moving on to the NSW Police Academy in Goulburn.

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  • acknowledge

We acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we work and pay our respects to the Elders, both past and present.

Apology to the Stolen Generations