Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Discussion paper on community living area land reform

Joint Media Release with:


    Minister for Indigenous Health
    Member for Lingiari

The Australian Government today released a discussion paper on reforming community living area land in the Northern Territory.

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin said that during Stronger Futures consultations Aboriginal people told the Government that they wanted to reduce barriers to economic development.

“Reforming community living areas is one way we are looking to help remove barriers to economic development,” Ms Macklin said.

A community living area is a small portion of land granted out of a pastoral lease and granted as conditional freehold to an Aboriginal community or family for residential purposes where Aboriginal people did not benefit from land granted under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.

There are more than 100 Aboriginal communities on community living area land in the Northern Territory, including Alpurrurulam, Atitjere, Binjari, Bulla, Engawala, Imangara, Imanpa, Jilkminggan, Laramba, Minyerri, Rittarangu, Tara, Titjikala, Wilora, Wutunugurra (Epenarra) and Yarralin.

Under Northern Territory legislation there are restrictions on how community living area land can be used, even when the land owner agrees they want to put it to a different use.

Currently, commercial development, private home ownership and some government services are not permitted on community living area land.

For example, community living area land owners cannot use their land for an arts centre or a community store, or allow for investment in police stations.

Minister for Indigenous Health and Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon said reforms to community living areas would aim to extend opportunities for voluntary leasing to help promote economic development and home ownership.

“Giving Aboriginal people some confidence in the future of their communities to meet their needs, to encourage enterprise and to provide more opportunities into the future.”

The Stronger Futures legislation provides the Australian Government with the ability to remove barriers in Northern Territory legislation for voluntary community living area land use.

This legislation does not prevent the Northern Territory Government from removing the legislative barriers.

Any reforms to community living areas will be done in consultation with the land owners, land councils, the Northern Territory Government and relevant stakeholders, including the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association.

The Stronger Futures legislation also allows community living area land owners to request the assistance of the relevant land council in managing their land.

“The Government wants to hear the views of community living area land owners, residents and stakeholders on reforms to benefit their communities into the future,” Mr Snowdon said.

Written submissions close on 12 April 2013.

The Government will then hold consultations in communities from April 2013.

Community living area land owners and community members can provide input through written submissions, Government Engagement Coordinators, Indigenous Engagement Officers and community consultations.

The discussion paper is available at