Homelands and outstations are interchangeable terms used to describe small, often remote, Aboriginal communities where people have traditional ownership or historical association.
They play a critical role in the social, cultural and economic life of Aboriginal people and the Territory as a whole. The Northern Territory (NT) Government recognises and supports Aboriginal Territorians’ fundamental right of to live on, develop and maintain their homelands.
The majority of homelands are located on Aboriginal land, held by Aboriginal Land Trusts established under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.
However, there are a small number of homelands on other statutory tenures, such as community living areas (land excised from a pastoral lease), or parcels of land within national parks. As such, the process to establish a new homeland usually involves the relevant land council.
Generally, housing in homelands is communally owned and is not subject to Northern Territory Government (NTG) leasing or part of the NT’s remote public housing system.
Approximately 10,000 Aboriginal Territorians are residents in 2,400 dwellings on more than 500 homelands across the NT.
The NT Homelands Program contributes grant funding towards the delivery of housing, municipal and essential services for eligible homelands.
To be eligible for funding, a homeland must:
- have a sustainable, potable water supply in operating condition
- have its own operating power supply
- have safe and secure housing
- be accessible
- be the principal place of residence
- have a recognised service provider willing to undertake the responsibility for servicing the homeland and be able to deliver services in a safe environment.
For more information, read the guidelines and fact sheet.
To view funding and service provider details for a particular homeland, go to Bushtel.
Homelands policy and program review
The NTG's Homelands policy 'a shared responsibility' was developed in 2015, following handover of municipal and essential services for homelands from the Australian Government to the NTG.
In January 2021, the NTG released an independent review of the Homelands policy and grants program, which guide the delivery of housing, municipal and essential services.
The review considered 18 submissions from homelands stakeholders and conducted over 30 face to face and telephone interviews.
To find out more, read the review .
You should also read the:
NTG's initial response
As part of the NTG’s initial response to the review, it has committed to:
- establishing a new body with land councils and the Australian Government to engage and co-design a long-term vision for homelands, including a holistic Homelands policy framework - the development of a more collaborative and strategic Homelands policy is required to support the aspirations of Aboriginal Territorians, to guide investment across a broader range of services and support the implementation of relevant Closing the Gap commitments
- revising the Homelands Grants Program, by removing red tape and streamlining program funding - homeland residents will have increased decision-making abilities to target the use of funds against works in their homes.
Homelands housing and infrastructure audit
An independent audit of homelands is currently underway and is expected to be completed by October 2022.
It is being conducted on 100 homelands, which will be representative of all 400 funded homelands in the NT.
The objectives are to:
- identify assets at each homeland and assess their condition and supporting infrastructure
- provide estimates of upgrades to meet liveable, serviceable and sustainable standards, including recognised Australian codes and standards
- assess current and future capacity of essential services where homelands have over 50 residents eg. power, water and sanitation
- provide strategic advice and analytics on future investment for homelands that have population growth and supporting infrastructure.
Once completed, the findings will inform a new homelands policy and future investment priorities.
Last updated: 15 September 2022
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