Joint Press Release with Housing and Public Works Minister The Hon Tim Mander and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs The Hon Glen Elmes
A Yarrabah resident in Far North Queensland this week became the state’s first social housing resident living on Indigenous land, to purchase their home.
The sale was made possible through the signing of a 99-year lease with the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council as the land trustee and a home loan from Indigenous Business Australia (IBA).
Housing and Public Works Minister Tim Mander said the Queensland Government had delivered on its promise to increase Indigenous home ownership opportunities.
“I congratulate Ailsa Lively on being the first person to become a home owner in Yarrabah and the first in Queensland to buy a social housing property on Indigenous land,” Mr Mander said.
“Until now, residents like Ailsa were denied ever owning a house in their own community due to Labor’s unwieldy land tenure arrangements and no policy to facilitate the sale of social housing.
“As requested by Indigenous communities, the State Government has removed the barriers and given families the same opportunities for home ownership that all other Queenslanders enjoy.
“This is an important step in addressing Indigenous disadvantage and the Government has made it possible for the first time for Indigenous Queenslanders to own their own home in their community.”
Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council Mayor Errol Neal said he was pleased that the Queensland Government had removed inflexible land restrictions that prevented people from owning their home, and prevented the community from pursuing further social and economic development.
“We have long been calling for something to be done so that our people did not have to be dependent on social housing, but could own their home and we commend the Queensland Government for making this possible,” Mr Neal said.
“Residents have embraced the idea of home ownership here in Yarrabah.
“This is just the first 99-year lease, but it signals the beginning of a big change.
“Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council has another 65 expressions of interest from residents who want to own their home or land in Yarrabah and more are being lodged each day.
“We are passionate about assisting our community in becoming self-sufficient and self-sustainable and these changes will also enable more opportunities for business and investment in our community.”
Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs Glen Elmes said Indigenous communities asked the Government to provide a range of options for home ownership on communal Indigenous land.
“The Queensland Government is now in the process of implementing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Holding Act 2012 that rectifies problems that had prevented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from obtaining perpetual leases in Queensland’s Indigenous communities,” Mr Elmes said.
“And in an Australian first, legislation passed by the Queensland Parliament last month now provides the option for Indigenous communities to also consider converting these perpetual leases or 99-year leases into freehold title from 1 January 2015 onwards.
“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land (Providing Freehold) Amendment Act 2014 ensures Indigenous communities now have the same access to freehold tenure as other parts of Queensland, but it will be up to each Indigenous community to decide whether it wants to retain ownership of the land or provide freehold titles to its residents.”
The Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council has received a further 65 expressions of interest from residents who want to own their own home or land in Yarrabah, with 8 of these expressions of interest being for social housing dwellings.
More than 20 families in other Queensland Indigenous communities have also registered interest in buying their social housing dwelling.
Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said the Australian Government supported home ownership in Indigenous communities and would provide financial support to those who want to buy their homes through IBA’s Indigenous Home Ownership Programme.
“The Australian and Queensland Governments are working closely to remove barriers to Indigenous Australians owning their own homes, particularly in remote communities,” Mr Scullion said.
“Residents of remote communities who currently depend on government-funded public housing should have the same options of private rental and home ownership that others in Australia enjoy.
“The further sale of social housing dwellings in Queensland, supported by IBA, will allow a greater number of Indigenous Australians to access the benefits of home ownership including economic independence, empowerment, security and increased self-esteem.”
“That is why this Australian Government is prioritising investment in remote social housing in places that have appropriate land tenure arrangements in place to support the transition to home ownership.”
Minister Scullion congratulated the Queensland Government for its recent legislative reform that will allow people living in Indigenous communities the option to apply for and buy ordinary freehold land in residential areas.
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2014-10-08 Joint Media Release- Yarrabah 99 year lease signing .pdf