“NT upgrades 20 towns to tackle disadvantage
* May 21, 2009
THE Northern Territory Government will turn 20 towns into regional hubs under its new homelands policy, with the aim of helping indigenous people “live life like other Australians”.
But there’s a catch. In order to share in the $160 million plan, selected communities will have to sign over their land.
The Government says it needs secure land tenure to underpin growth and investment, but it is yet to determine the length of leases.
The Federal Government has previously announced it will only fund new housing if Aboriginal land councils grant minimum 40-year leases. It is giving priority to 26 remote communities across the country Fifteen are in the Northern Territory.
The Chief Minister, Paul Henderson, said yesterday the homelands policy would improve education outcomes, boost development and create jobs.
“We have real aspirations for indigenous people to live life like other Australians,” he said.
The Territory Government will continue to spend $36 million a year on the Territory’s 500-odd homeland communities. A policy statement says it “will not financially support the establishment of new outstations” but it is “not opposed to Aboriginal people using their own resources to live in remote locations”.
The Northern Land Council said the policy’s targets were commendable, but it needed more detail.
The federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, said the Territory’s focus on 20 “growth towns as central hubs” was an important step in tackling disadvantage.