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Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Landmark Housing and Welfare Reform Agreement for Yarrabah

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, today signed an agreement with the Mayor of Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council, Vince Mundraby, and the Chair of the Yarrabah Community Justice Group, Allanby Ambrym, to provide $14 million to the north Queensland Indigenous community for new housing and welfare reform measures.

“Yarrabah is the largest indigenous community in Australia, with about 4 000 people,” Mr Brough said.

“The agreement signed today is similar to the Hope Vale agreement signed earlier this year and aims to change behaviour and attitudes in the community particularly in regard to school attendance and tenancy arrangements.”

The key elements of the agreement are:

  • A commitment to long term welfare reform in Yarrabah;
  • Housing upgrades to be provided to people who move to normal public housing tenancy arrangements, pay market rent, uphold tenancy conditions and look after their houses;
  • Families who commit to an income management scheme for payment of rent and general day to day management of income, and make sure their children attend school will be eligible for additional housing upgrades;
  • Once the Queensland Government legislates land tenure changes to allow for private home ownership funding will provided for new housing for home ownership within the community, with 40 new blocks to be developed. New houses are to be built on 20 of those blocks for rent and then purchase by residents, and the other 20 blocks available for sale for people to build their own homes.

Mr Brough said Mr Mundraby approached him after talking to Noel Pearson and seeing what was being done in Hope Vale to build a better future for local Aboriginal people.

“Mr Mundraby was determined to put in place in Yarrabah changes linked to housing and welfare reform and economic development,” Mr Brough said.

“The Mayor and other members of the Council have demonstrated their commitment to achieving real change and ensuring the community prospers.

“The Mayor is keen to take the opportunity of working with the Australian Government to achieve these aims and hopes that the Queensland Government proceeds quickly with the necessary legislation to change land tenure arrangements, which it publicly committed to do by the end of 2007.

“I urge the Queensland Government to move quickly to introduce the necessary land reform. This will enable work to then commence on the new housing.”