|Community Update No. 8 of 2009/2010 - 9 March 2010|
Report to Members on Visit to Top End Communities
We were invited to meet with the Tiwi Land Council who told us how they lease the largest of their three communities (Nguiu) to the Commonwealth for 99 years. In return, they were paid substantial rent ($5 Million) in advance for 15 years and obtained many other benefits. They are using that rent to fund Aboriginal businesses paid for by money from the rent and low interest loans from IBA with the businesses being checked out and certified by Deloittes Accountants. The businesses include: car hire, cement mixing, Tiwi tours, forestry and they have plans for a supermarket, several specialty shops and more. The people have created over 84 paid Aboriginal jobs through business, more than the Tiwi Shire which is struggling, despite its $23 Million budget.
Tiwi are now getting over 100 new houses and people are able to buy their own homes through a sub-lease from the Office of Township Leasing, funded by first home owner grants and low interest IBA loans. For example, a couple paying $80,000 for their house end up with a $60,000 loan and pay less for their loan than they paid in rent for public housing, especially if a large family lives in the home. After a couple of years they get substantial credits to their loan for looking after the house. The house increases in value and the owners generate wealth.
Tiwi built a boarding school in an isolated place which has about 70 boys and girls from years 7 to 12. They live in group houses for boys and girls. The kids are picked up from communities on a Monday and dropped off on a Friday. Education standards are getting better each year and the kids are very happy.
In Gove, we visited an Aboriginal owned company doing work for mining companies working on Aboriginal land. The company YBE2 has substantial contracts with big mining companies such as Rio Tinto. The mining companies helped set up YBE2, which is now fully accredited and able to compete for major contracts. Last year the contract returned to each aboriginal owner about $25,000 after paying tax. The company pays rent to the traditional owners for the land it works on and trains and employs the local Yolngu people.
In setting up the company, the TOs decided that each of the 26 clans of east
Elsewhere in Gove, we saw Aboriginal community enterprises cutting and milling their own timber with training from Forestry Tasmania. They use the timber to build houses for their people paid for by royalties. They are planning to open a furniture shop in town. They also run a successful cattle farm with Aboriginal workers housed in a bunkhouse they built with their own timber.
In all of these places, we saw pride, self respect and healthy smiling faces. In Tiwi, the suicide and crime rates, as well as violence have dropped so much they have almost disappeared. Kids are happy and learning. People are earning real money and becoming owners of houses, small businesses and shares in large businesses which have real and growing value.
Bernard Singer, APY Chairperson