Young Broome mom Loydine McIntosh had almost given up hope when she started looking for a home to rent earlier this year.

Important points:

  • Nyamba Buru Yawuru started the Jalbi Jiya Housing Program last year to provide affordable housing for the local indigenous population
  • It has helped dozens of people through co-equity programs and by providing rental housing during the WA housing crisis
  • Researchers say the program should serve as a blueprint for other organizations hoping to get into the housing market

With a toddler and a single income, the 21-year-old struggled to compete with the hundreds of applicants who flooded the tourist city’s rental market amid Western Australia’s housing crisis.

“I just needed enough space for myself and my daughter,” she said.

“Just so I can have my own room and they have their own play area.

“It was hard, I hadn’t heard from any of the real estate agents.”

Ms. McIntosh had been searching for four months when she heard about a new housing program from a friend.

Jalbi Jiya, which means “your home”, is an initiative of the local Aboriginal organization Nyamba Buru Yawuru.

The Nyamba Buru Yawuru offices in Broome. (

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It is designed exclusively for the Broome Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

It is a uniquely tailored program of affordable housing delivery and is primarily focused on helping people who would otherwise be excluded from the housing market.

Through state government investments, the organization has rented eight Broome properties and offered 17 for sale.

The program has helped dozens of people move into the assigned properties and offers a range of options including leases, ownership agreements and sales.

At a time when her daughter was only a year old, Ms. McIntosh said it was a welcome relief to be able to sign a 12-month lease instead of having to leave town.

“[Having family around while I’m raising] it is really important, “she said.

“They take care of her when I go to work and when I have things to do and errands in town.”

Loydine McIntosh is a successful candidate for the Jalbi Jiya program. (

ABC Kimberley: Andrew Seabourne

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A lifeline in a crisis

Healthcare worker Shannon Fong said she too faced the possibility of having to leave her 24-year-old hometown if she could not find shelter.

Ms. Fong hopped from rental apartment to rental apartment in Broome after returning from college in Perth, trying to find a rental apartment earlier this year.

“I went on a home tour and [saw] about 40 people … look at a property, ”she said.

“That alone was enough for me to say, ‘I’m not going to get this.'”

Shannon Fong stands in front of her new home.

Shannon Fong, Broome Healthcare Professional. (

ABC Kimberley: Andrew Seabourne

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With a single income, Ms. Fong knew it would be difficult to think about owning a home, but her options continued to narrow.

A holistic approach to living

Katherine Stewart is the Housing Assistance Coordinator for the Jalbi Jiya Program and has helped many tenants in the program.

She came to Nyamba Buru Yawuru after working as a local real estate agent and said her previous experience puts the current rental market in sharp perspective.

“It is extremely worrying,” said Ms. Stewart.

“Usually at this time we are used to dealing with over 100 properties on the market. Six were listed this morning.”

Ms. Stewart started the program in January and said the current housing market has only spurred her to ensure that some of Broome’s most vulnerable people have safe homes.

She has worked with single mothers, retirees and families-to-be for the past few months, and said the program’s holistic approach to getting people into homes already sets it apart.

A drone shot of Broome Broome has experienced a housing crisis due to limited rents and the influx of seasonal workers.

ABC Kimberley: Andrew Seabourne

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“It was just about introducing people to the housing market to show that you were able to buy. If not, we’ll take you there, ”Ms. Stewart said.

Jalbi Jiya’s staff help connect people with budgeting services and guide people through their tenancies to ensure they continue their work and their children get to school in the morning.

In Ms. McIntosh’s case, support staff helped her compile a bail and called her weekly to see how well she was.

“They make sure that I go to work and that my daughter goes to daycare,” she said.

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A blueprint for indigenous living

The model has already received praise from researchers, including Shannen Vallesi, research fellow at the University of Western Australia.

Ms. Vallesi has spent five years understanding the challenges of finding accommodation for vulnerable people and says the Jalbi Jiya model provides a strong blueprint for other organizations.

Ms. Fong and Housing Assistance Coordinator Katherine Stewart stand together Ms. Fong and Housing Assistance Coordinator Katherine Stewart. (

ABC Kimberley: Andrew Seabourne

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“For many of the people I work with [owning their own home] is not even a reality for them, “she said.

“You have to sit down and say, ‘If you want to own your house, you have set some goals for yourself.’

“[Organisations need to] Providing people with information and support so that they can do this.

“You have to provide that empowerment for the people.”

Ms. Stewart said it was critical to the success of the program to offer people different experiences with the program.

newly built house in a Broome subdivision with a sale sign in front of it Affordable housing is in great demand in Broome. ((

ABC Kimberley: Ben Collins

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“Out of 25 people, there are 25 different traits and challenges to master,” she said.

“We know who we’re dealing with, we know how to be sensitive.

“We all know each other somehow, and that’s really because this is such a small town… it’s not names on a piece of paper, but people you actually know.

“You will likely come across [someone at] in the supermarket or in the markets on Saturday. “

A place to call home

For Ms. Fong, she decided that home ownership was the right choice for her.

When she was only 24, she signed a co-equity program with Jalbi Jiya. Eventually, she will own the house she currently lives in.

“It’s almost a relief to know you have a home of your own,” said Ms. Fong.

“I want to stay in Broome for the long term and that’s my goal for the next 20 years.”

Ms. McIntosh is seated on her couch with her daughter on her lap. Ms. McIntosh and her one year old moved to the Cable Beach property in April. (

ABC Kimberley: Andrew Seabourne

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And for Ms. McIntosh, her home is a safe place for her daughter to call home.

“We walk through the door and she just knows this is her home.

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