First Nations woman in a wheel chair forced to live on verandah for 13 months

A First Nations woman in a wheel chair has been living on the verandah of another family's home for 13 months. She finally had to begin a court action against the NT Housing Department to get appropriate accommodation.

Woman gets house of her own after year of living on town camp verandah
Monica Jarra, a Warlpiri woman has been living on the verandah of another family's home for more than a year.

Felicity James ABC Indigenous Updated 26 December 2013

A woman forced to live on the verandah of a house at an Alice Springs town camp for more than a year will soon have a house to live in, after launching a challenge in the Northern Territory Supreme Court.

Monica Jarra, 55, began an action against the Housing Department in December last year after her application for a house at Hoppy's camp in Alice Springs was rejected.

Ms Jarra, an Aboriginal woman from the Warlpiri tribe, moved from her previous house at the camp for cultural reasons after her husband died.

She has been living on the verandah of another family's home for 13 months.

On the first day of the Northern Territory Supreme Court case, the department agreed to allow Ms Jarra to move into a house on a three-month trial basis in the new year.

Katie Gordon from the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service says her client is overwhelmed by the outcome.

"She has been waiting a long, long time; she's exhausted and she's really looking forward to having her own space and her own privacy," she said.

"It has been a lot of work.

"Monica deserves a house and she has got one now, so we are very pleased."

Ms Gordon says the matter is ongoing and she is looking forward to working with the department to ensure Ms Jarra stays in her new house.

Outside court, Ms Jarra said it was a relief to have a house to live in, close to family.

"I am happy to get it back so I can stay with the families and my two dogs," she said.

The department has committed to moving Ms Jarra into the house within three to four weeks.

Ms Jarra suffered a stroke in 2004 and as a result has limited movement and needs a wheelchair.

The ABC understands an arrangement for a house suited to support Ms Jarra's disability was proposed to the department during a meeting of town camp tenants in May.

During the meeting, Ms Jarra's neighbour offered to move out of his house, which is more suitable for people with a disability, and allow Ms Jarra to move in.

But the matter has been stalled until now.

Another house at the town camp, which is not suitable for people with a disability, has been sitting vacant for at least a year.

The department has now agreed Ms Jarra's neighbour can move into the vacant house and Ms Jarra can move into his on the condition it is made safe to reside in and is not at an unreasonable risk of being damaged.

If the three-month trial is successful, Ms Jarra will be granted a lease.

The case has been adjourned for four months, until the end of the agreed trial.

First posted 24 December 2013