Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Encouraging Indigenous home ownership and better infrastructure management

A $6 million partnership between the Australian Government and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council will give Aboriginal Australians living on 63 former reserves across NSW the potential to buy their own homes.

The funding will cover the costs of surveying the land and conveyancing.

Currently, most homes are on communal title and the land has to be subdivided before they can be purchased.

Subdividing the land on these reserves is also a vital step towards achieving proper management and funding of infrastructure such as electricity and water.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs , Jenny Macklin said Walgett, in the State’s north-west, would be given priority as one of the first beneficiaries of the joint initiative.

“When I visited Walgett in February with the Prime Minister many families spoke to us of their strong interest in being able to own their own homes,” Ms Macklin said.

“This Government has targeted housing as critical to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

“This includes supporting as many Indigenous Australians as possible to achieve their aspirations to own their own homes because home ownership can bring important social and economic benefits.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the 2006 Census identified that 33 per cent of Aboriginal people in NSW either owned or were purchasing their own home.

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council will work with Local Aboriginal Land Councils in the former Aboriginal reserves to subdivide their land.

The Chair of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, Bev Manton said the Council was determined to work through existing impediments to subdividing land on former Aboriginal reserves.

“We need to consider existing and future requirements in relation to services and infrastructure on these communities. This includes roads, lighting, water and sewerage systems and other essential services including garbage collection,” Ms Manton said.

“The NSW Aboriginal Land Council will need to work closely with communities and the local, state and Australian Governments to make this initiative work. We need to ensure we create viable housing markets in our communities and as such we will need to consider all issues.”

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council has begun to work with local Aboriginal Land Councils to explain the benefits of the subdivision project and to get agreement to subdivide their land in accordance with the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983.