A significant achievement has been reached for Anindilyakwa Traditional Owners across the Groote Archipelago in the Northern Territory, with the formal transfer of the Groote Eylandt Township Lease to the Anindilyakwa Royalties Aboriginal Corporation (ARAC).
This is the first time a Township Lease in the Northern Territory has been transferred from the Commonwealth Executive Director of Township Leasing (Executive Director) to a Traditional Owner Corporation and represents an important milestone for all Township Leasing stakeholders.
The Township Leasing model empowers Traditional Owners to advance social and economic opportunities through a form of secure, tradeable land tenure in First Nations townships.
The transfer of the Groote Eylandt Township Lease achieves a long term vision of the Anindilyakwa Traditional Owners, one that they have been working towards in partnership with the Anindilyakwa Land Council (ALC) and the Executive Director since 2019.
Under their Township Lease, ARAC will work in partnership with Traditional Owners for each Township to make decisions about how their land is used and how rental income received through the Township Lease is invested to support community and economic development.
The transfer of the Groote Eylandt Township Lease will also incorporate the four satellite communities of Bartalumba Bay, Four Mile, Little Paradise and Malkala, providing them with the same economic and social benefits as the three major Groote Archipelago communities through secure land tenure arrangements.
The achievement of this historic milestone would not have been possible without the hard work and collaboration between the ALC, ARAC, the Executive Director and the National Indigenous Australians Agency.
Through working in partnership and sharing a collective goal, First Nations aspirations are being realised while ensuring a seamless transition and security of tenure for those living and working in the Groote Eylandt Township.
Quotes attributable to Minister Linda Burney:
“Township leasing in the Northern Territory is an important vehicle that drives Aboriginal decision-making in communities and provides an opportunity for whole-of-community management over economic activity on Aboriginal land.
“This historic transfer reminds the country of the strength of existing leadership structures in First Nations communities.
“I congratulate all parties involved in the transfer of the Groote Eylandt Township Lease, particularly the Anindilyakwa Traditional Owners and ARAC on this momentous occasion.
“I look forward to seeing ARAC bring the aspirations of Traditional Owners to life in their communities.”
Quotes attributable to Senator Malarndirri McCarthy:
“This is a proud moment in Territory history, marking years of work to secure a community-led and self-determined future for Anindilyakwa Traditional Owners.
“As a Yanyuwa Garrwa woman from Borroloola with ancestors interconnected to the Anindilyakwa people of Groote Eylandt through kujika, through songline, this milestone is an absolute honour to celebrate with Traditional Owners today.
“I’m pleased to see self-determination in action for the Territory through Township Leasing and would like to join in congratulating the Anindilyakwa Traditional Owners, ALC and ARAC for achieving this result for their community.”
Quotes attributable to Executive Director of Township Leasing, Ms Pennie Talbot:
“As the first Township Lease to transition to a Traditional Owner controlled entity, the Anindilyakwa people have set a path for others to follow, encouraging other Traditional Owners to consider Township Leasing as a mechanism to achieve their aspirations.
“I am confident the work we have accomplished in partnership with the Anindilyakwa Traditional Owners over the last 14 years will put them and ARAC in a strong position to continue realising their future aspirations across the Groote Archipelago.
“The strong governance established during this time has enabled secure, tradeable land tenure and long-term revenue for the Traditional Owners to invest in economic and social opportunities for their communities.
“I thank and congratulate the Anindilyakwa Traditional Owners and look forward to our continued partnership as they enter the next stage of their Township Leasing journey.”
Quotes attributable to Anindilyakwa Land Council Chairman, Mr Tony Wurramarrba AO:
“This is a very important day for the Anindilyakwa Land Council and Traditional Owners.
“After 14 years of the Executive Director working with Groote communities to manage land use in our communities, now Anindilyakwa Traditional Owners are ready to take over this role.
“Anindilyakwa people are working hard to return control to our communities over local decision-making and service delivery.
“The Township Lease transfer is part of a bigger story for us; we are empowering local people and organisations in township leasing, housing, local government, health, education, economic development and law and justice so we are in control of our future.”
Quotes attributable to Anindilyakwa Royalties Aboriginal Corporation Director, Mr James Durrilla:
“We are very excited the Township Lease has been transferred. ARAC has an important job now in supporting Traditional Owners to manage township leasing in the Groote communities.
“As a resident of Malkala, I am personally very happy that the 4 satellite communities will now have more opportunities to access funding for new infrastructure and make service delivery simpler.
“It is important that these 4 communities are now treated the same as the bigger communities.”