Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Historic land lease for Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon. Rob Knight MLA, NT Minister for Housing
    The Hon Warren Snowdon MP, Member for Lingiari

The first township lease over three communities in the Groote Eylandt region marks the start of a new era of economic development through a partnership between the Anindilyakwa people and the Australian Government.

The Government has announced it will invest an additional $10 million in new housing and infrastructure on top of the $33 million committed under the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program (SIHIP).

The combined funds will help address overcrowding on Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island and improve the health of families and children.

It will also boost the local economy with jobs for local people in housing construction and refurbishment work.

Work on the first new houses under SIHIP for Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island is expected to start in the 2009 dry season.

With the new tenure arrangement, housing and infrastructure work can begin in the three communities of Angurugu, Umbakumba and Milyakburra.

Following consultation with these communities, around 80 new houses will be built along with upgrades to about 55 existing houses.

The negotiation of the township lease means local people on Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island will be able to attract private investment and business development and support Indigenous home ownership.

The lease covers the communities of Angurugu and Umbakumba on Groote Eylandt and Milyakburra on Bickerton Island for an effective 80-year period through an initial lease of 40 years and the option of a 40-year renewal.

The successful negotiation of the township lease follows extensive consultations with Traditional Owners and is part of a broader Regional Partnership Agreement between the Anindilyakwa Land Council and the Australian and Northern Territory Governments signed in May 2008.

The members of the Anindilyakwa Land Council have shown great vision and leadership throughout the lease negotiations driven by their commitment to build a strong and prosperous future for their people.

SIHIP is a joint Australian and Northern Territory Government program to improve housing in Northern Territory Indigenous communities.

It is one of the largest investments by governments in Indigenous housing and is central to the Australian and Northern Territory Government’s commitment to closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.