Skip to main content

Chapter 4 - Introduction: Social Justice Report 2009

Social Justice Report 2009

Chapter 4: Sustaining Aboriginal homeland communities

back to contents


4.1 Introduction

Homelands still belong to the people, we want to build homes on our land
and live there. When we come to the homeland we come back to the peace and
quiet. ... It is a much better environment on the homelands, better things for
the children
.[1]

Australia has not learned anything from the history of destabilising
Indigenous people if this policy is allowed to stand and homelands people are
forced to co-locate in these major towns against their
wishes
.[2]

This chapter profiles the homelands movement of the Northern Territory as an
example of successful Aboriginal community development, governance and
self-determination. The central argument of this chapter is that homelands
should be adequately resourced by Australian governments and that homeland
leaders should be able to actively participate in the development of policies
that affect homeland communities.

There are homeland communities throughout Australia - the majority being in
Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia. This chapter will
focus on the Northern Territory because during the past two years some
significant changes have been made to homeland policies which negatively impact
on the capacity of these communities to continue in future.

Homelands
provide social, spiritual, cultural, health and economic benefits to residents.
They are a unique component of the Indigenous social and cultural landscape,
enabling residents to live on their ancestral lands. Homelands are governed
through traditional kinship structures which provide leadership and local
governance. The Productivity Commission has noted that the success factors for
overcoming disadvantage in Indigenous communities include:

  • cooperative approaches between Indigenous people and government —
    often with the non-profit and private sectors as well
  • community involvement in program design and decision-making — a
    ‘bottom-up’ rather than ‘top-down’ approach
  • good governance — at organisation, community and government
    levels
  • ongoing government support — including human, financial and physical
    resources.[3]

Arguably,
the only success factor that is missing for Northern Territory homelands is the
last factor. Recent federal and Northern Territory Government policies now limit
the resources and support for homeland communities. This means they may not be
viable in future.

Various policies now collude to move homeland residents into large townships.
Health, housing and education services to homeland communities are now being
severely restricted. This means that people will have to live in townships if
they want their children to receive a school education or if they want access to
housing.

History has shown that moving people from homeland communities into fringe
communities in rural towns increases the stresses on resources in rural
townships. Some of the documented disadvantages include increased social
tensions between different community groups, reduced access to healthy food and
lifestyles and loss of cultural practices and livelihoods. This chapter will
demonstrate that if government policies fail to support the ongoing development
of homelands it will lead to social and economic problems in rural townships
that could further entrench Indigenous disadvantage and poverty. This failure to
support will also be a significant contributor to the loss of the world’s
longest surviving continuous culture.

This chapter is divided into seven sections:

4.1 Introduction
4.2 Definition of homelands
4.3 History of the homelands movement
4.4 Funding for homelands
4.5 The viability of homelands
4.6 Conclusion
4.7 Recommendation

^top

4.2 Definition of homelands

The use of the term
‘homeland’ or ‘outstation’ can be interchangeable. Some
communities prefer the term ‘homeland’, particularly communities in
the top end of the Northern Territory, and other communities prefer the term
‘outstation’, mostly communities in the central desert regions. The
Northern Territory Government’s Outstations Policy: Community
Engagement Report
notes the preference among some communities for the term
homeland:

Who changed the name from homelands to outstations? These are our homelands.
In Mardayin Law the land has always belonged to the clans, and always will
belong to the clans. The Land was never Terra Nullius.

Our ancestors lived on these lands a very long time before the English came
here, and every place has its own Wanga-wartangu, its own clan, who are the
owners. This never changes. We do not sell our land. Every clan has its own
places, and this does not change. We do not have private ownership of land, we
have clan ownership. Homelands belong to the clans. They are not outstations of
a larger community where people go for a better lifestyle. They are the lands
that have always belonged to the clan...They are the homelands of the people and
they are the Djalkiri, the heritage of the
people.[4]

The Northern Territory Government’s Working Future policy (2009)
uses ‘outstations/ homelands’ as a generic description and
interchangeably as appropriate to each
location.[5]

This chapter will use the term ‘homeland’, except for instances
where communities self-identify as ‘outstations’ or when quoting or
citing a report or other source that uses the term outstation.

Homelands are located on Aboriginal ancestral lands with cultural and
spiritual significance to the Aboriginal people who live there. The connections
to land are complex and include cultural, spiritual and environmental
obligations, including obligations for the protection of sacred sites.

Homelands vary in size, composition, level of resources, extent of access to
potable water and services and in the time of their establishment. Some may be
very small; comprising a few families living together. Others may be expanding
and developing their own economies and have populations over a hundred people.
While some homelands have grown into significant sized communities, in most
cases they are smaller than townships and regional centres.

The numbers of people living in homelands can fluctuate at different times
and this can significantly change population numbers for a period of
time.[6] Homeland residents may
relocate temporarily for a variety of reasons such as when they are required to
participate in ceremony and other cultural obligations. Parents and guardians
may leave homelands to accompany their children who are attending schools in
larger centres during school terms. Residents may temporarily relocate to access
health services in regional centres or stay in other homelands for therapeutic
purposes. While Aboriginal clan groups may be mobile for a variety of reasons,
this is not an indication that they wish to permanently vacate their ancestral
lands.

New homelands are also established over time. Elders and others set up new
homelands when they are unable to live in larger townships due to clan tensions.
The situation at Wadeye is an example of this with people moving progressively
to outlying community areas.[7]

Governments have routinely defined homelands by their size, and provided
resources accordingly. For this reason, funding agreements between the
Australian and Northern Territory Governments distinguish between larger
Indigenous communities, for which the Northern Territory Government has taken
primary responsibility, and smaller communities (classed as homelands or
outstations), for which the Australian Government retained funding
responsibility until 2008.[8]

In 1987 the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal
Affairs, produced a report: Return to Country: The Aboriginal Homelands
Movement in Australia
(Return to Country). This report provided
commentary about the definition of homelands. It quoted Professor
Stanner’s views on defining homelands.

No English words are good enough to give a sense of the links between an
Aboriginal group and its homeland....A different tradition leaves us tongueless
and earless towards this other world of meaning and difference....
[9]

According to the Return to Country report of 1987, a definition of
homelands should include:

  • acknowledgement of the significance of Aboriginal peoples moving back to
    traditional country
  • a clear distinction between homelands and settlements, missions or reserves
  • an acknowledgement of the traditional connection to the land and the
    ancestral spirits and
  • a description of the permanency of homelands as traditional home territory.

The Return to Country report defined homelands as
‘small decentralised communities of close kin established by the movement
of Aboriginal people to land of social, cultural and economic significance to
them’.[10] The Committee noted
that many homelands might have 20 to 50 people, but some homelands have larger
populations and therefore the definition did not include a numerical
scope.
More recently, homelands were defined in the Northern Territory
Government’s Community Engagement report as:

Homelands are the ancestral homes of specific Indigenous groups across the
Territory. Their existence...substantially predates the arrival of
non-Indigenous Australians.

Homelands represent the intersection of specific areas of country, with
individual, social and spiritual Indigenous identities. That is, they do not
represent random settlements ‘where people go for a better
lifestyle’ away from the larger communities created by non-Indigenous
agents. In contrast, homelands represent particular living areas in which each
Indigenous individual and group is based in order to fulfil their own cultural
obligations to their inherited country and its underlying traditional
Law.[11]

It is incumbent upon governments and administrators to understand the
significance and importance of homeland living areas. Any definition of
homelands and any policy affecting homelands should recognise the fundamental
right of Aboriginal people to live on their country of affiliation and maintain
language, custom and cultural practices. These rights are protected under United
Nations treaties and
declarations.[12]

A broad definition enables a range of types of homelands to be recognised,
including community living areas which are excisions on pastoral
leases.

^top

4.3 History of the homelands movement

Text Box 4.1: Timeline on the history of the homelands movement
  • 1930s – Aboriginal communities began to be forcibly dislocated from
    their lands and moved into missions and towns. The ‘assimilation
    policy’ also commenced in this period and continued until the 1960s.
  • 1968 - The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission’s
    decision in 1966 to amend the Cattle Station Industry (Northern Territory)
    Award 1951
    led to the introduction of mandatory payment of award wages for
    Aboriginal pastoral workers. This in turn led to a decline of employment of
    Aboriginal workers in the pastoral industry and correspondingly widespread
    movements of Aboriginal workers into centralised
    settlements.[13]
  • 1972 - With the election of the Whitlam government came the disbanding of
    the assimilation policy in Indigenous affairs, and its replacement with the
    self-management or self-determination policy. The new policy framework allowed
    for the start of the homelands movement.
  • 1973 - Commonwealth grants were provided to support the homelands movement.
  • 1976 – The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976
    (Cth) (ALRA) was introduced. Under the Act, land recognised as
    ‘Aboriginal land’ was either land held by a Land Trust for an estate
    in fee simple; or land the subject of a deed of grant held in escrow by a Land
    Council.[14]
  • 1977 – Introduction of the Community Development Employment Program
    (CDEP).
  • 1978 – The Northern Territory achieved self-government. The
    Memorandum of Understanding in Respect of Financial Arrangements between the
    Commonwealth and a Self-Governing Northern Territory
    provided for the
    overall responsibility for policy planning and coordination of Indigenous
    affairs to remain with the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Government also
    retained responsibility for approximately 500 homelands/ outstations communities
    (i.e. small communities on Aboriginal land as recognised under the ALRA or
    communities on pastoral excision land), and only transferred responsibility for
    the larger Aboriginal townships to the Northern Territory Government.
  • 1987 - House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs
    released the Return to Country report. The Committee’s
    recommendations included: government policies and service delivery (including
    the provision of infrastructure, education, housing and health) be revised to
    support homelands; the continuation of funding for the establishment of new
    homelands; funding for homelands resource centres to deliver services to
    homelands; and the extension of CDEP to all homelands.
  • 1990s – The National Homelands Policy: ATSIC’s Policy for
    outstations, homelands and new and emerging communities
    was developed. The
    policy included criteria for the establishment of new homelands (i.e. secure
    land tenure, principal place of residence, access to potable water, and
    supported by a community organisation or homeland resource agency).
  • 1997-1998 – ATSIC’s Review of resource agencies servicing
    Indigenous communities, undertaken by John Altman, D Gillespie and K
    Palmer.
  • 2005 Overarching Agreement on Indigenous Affairs between
    the Commonwealth of Australia and the Northern Territory of Australia, 2005-2010
    was signed.[15]
  • 2007 - Living in the Sunburnt Country – Indigenous Housing:
    Findings of the Review of the Community Housing and Infrastructure Programme
    recommended the Community Housing and Infrastructure Program (CHIP) be
    replaced with a new housing program for remote and very remote Indigenous
    communities, and recommended a shift away from building new housing on
    outstations and homelands.[16] As a
    result the moratorium on new housing in oustations that had been in place since
    2006 under CHIP, became
    entrenched.[17]
  • 2007 – The MOU on Indigenous Housing, Accommodation and Related
    Services
    was signed in September 2007. Under the MOU, the Commonwealth
    Government handed over responsibility for the delivery of municipal and
    essential services to homelands to the Northern Territory Government, starting 1
    July 2008. The MOU marked the cessation of Commonwealth funding for the 500 plus
    communities classed as homelands/ outstations and the handover of responsibility
    to the Northern Territory
    Government.[18]
  • 2007 – In response to the release of Report of the Northern Territory
    Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse,
    titled Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle: ‘Little Children are
    Sacred’,
    the federal government introduced a package of legislation to
    implement a national emergency response purportedly to protect Aboriginal
    children in the Northern Territory from sexual abuse and family violence. This
    became known as the ‘Northern Territory Intervention’ or the
    ‘Northern Territory Emergency Response’.
  • 2008 – Under the Local Government Act 2008 a new framework of
    municipal and shire councils was created that incorporates the whole of the
    Northern Territory into local government areas. This included the abolition of
    existing Aboriginal community councils, and the creation of eight new
    ‘super’ shires, each serving a number of remote townships and
    communities, including areas of land not previously administered by Local
    Government.
  • 2008 - Reforms to the CDEP program and the Indigenous Employment Programs
    were announced. The reforms which commenced on 1 July 2009, ceased the
    availability of CDEP in urban, regional and rural areas, and introduced a phased
    removal from remote areas with all recipients transferring to income support by
    2011. This had a significant impact on the retention of a paid workforce in
    homeland communities.
  • 2008 – The Council of Australian Governments agreed to the National
    Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery
    , which has prioritised
    delivery of services in 26 selected sites in Australia. 15 of the selected sites
    are in the Northern
    Territory.[19]
  • 2008 - The Northern Territory Government issued the Outstations Policy
    Discussion Paper
    for consultation on the development of a Northern Territory
    Government policy on outstations.
  • 2009 – The Northern Territory Government released the Community
    Engagement Report: Our home, our homeland.
  • 2009 – The Northern Territory Government released its new headline
    policy statement on outstations/ homelands - Working Future: fresh ideas/
    real results
    .

The Return to Country report remains one of the seminal reports on the
history of the homelands
movement.[20] It noted that the
homelands movement was in fact a reaction to the forced dislocation of
Aboriginal people from their lands into centralised towns and missions since the
1930s.[21]

Critical to the movement was the intent of Aboriginal people to reoccupy
traditional country and to fulfil the religious and social obligations to care
for country. Going back to traditional lands also gave people an opportunity to
remove themselves from the social and economic problems that plagued many of the
towns and mission areas. Such problems arose partially as a result of different
clans and language groups being brought together to live in close proximity on
another clan’s land. The cultural inappropriateness of forcing different
groups to live together in one area, and denying them access to their own lands,
caused tensions between the different groups. These tensions continue today.
Further, the conditions in the missions and camps were often very poor –
minimal housing and infrastructure and limited education options manifested in
high mortality levels, poor health, high levels of alcohol abuse and other
social problems.[22] The aim of the
homelands movement was to re-establish Aboriginal lifestyles and livelihoods and
to assert autonomy and social and economic independence on one’s own
land.[23]

Therefore, as soon as government policy shifted to allow Aboriginal people to
move back to country, people began to immediately re-establish their traditional
homes and communities. This was the start of the homelands movement in the
1970s.

Some of the key policy changes that allowed the homelands movement to emerge
during the 1970s and 80s included:

  • Change in government policy from ‘assimilation’ to
    ‘self-determination’ (1970s). This allowed for greater scope for
    Aboriginal communities to make decisions about where they wanted to live and
    how.
  • Granting of land rights to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
    – enabling Aboriginal people to own their traditional lands and to
    establish communities on the lands.
  • Commonwealth Government support for the homelands movement through grants,
    recognising and validating homelands and providing resources and financial
    support for their establishment.
  • Provision of social security payments for Aboriginal people – ensuring
    that Aboriginal people living in areas with reduced access to mainstream
    employment opportunities had equal rights to social security. The income enabled
    Aboriginal people to supplement their subsistence economies on homelands.
  • Homelands resource centres - homelands resource centres have been in
    existence during the last 20 years. They are Indigenous community-controlled
    organizations that provide municipal and technical services to homeland
    communities. These centres were funded by the Commonwealth, based on per capita
    homeland populations. The centres employed technically qualified personnel, or
    where necessary, paid subcontractors to carry out maintenance tasks. Some
    resource agencies were also funded by the Commonwealth as CDEP organisations.
    The CDEP organisations were able to recruit community members for municipal
    works program in the homelands. Other resource centres provided housing
    management and maintenance services in homelands, collecting rent and receiving
    annual maintenance funds allocated on a per house basis from the state and
    territory housing departments.[24]

Since the 1970s there has been a steady growth in homeland
populations. In 1981 there was an estimated 165 homeland communities with a
total population of 4,200 people throughout
Australia.[25] By 2001 the Community
Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS) estimated there were 991
discrete communities with a population of less than 100 people – with an
average size of 20 people and a total number of 19,817
people.[26] In 2006, of the 93,000
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in discrete Indigenous
communities, nearly 33 per cent of people were in communities with less than 200
residents.[27] The Northern
Territory has the highest proportion of Indigenous people living in discrete
communities, approximately 45 per cent, with 81 per cent of its Indigenous
population living in remote or very remote
areas.[28]

^top

4.4 Funding for homelands

To a large extent homeland communities have been self-resourcing; reliant on
local resources and subsistence livelihoods. However, this has been supplemented
to varying degrees by government funding. For instance, since the 1960s, the
Community Housing and Infrastructure Program (CHIP) provided grants to
Indigenous community housing organisations, state and territory government
agencies and local governments to deliver housing, infrastructure and municipal
services for Indigenous communities in urban, rural and remote areas –
including in homeland communities. Responsibility for the program was
transferred to the Department of Family and Community Services in July 2004. The
program ceased in 2008 after a review recommended its
closure.[29] In 1973 the
Commonwealth Government began providing grants to meet the costs of establishing
homelands. Commonwealth funded programs such as the CDEP have also been a source
of financial support for people in homeland communities.

In 1978, the Northern Territory achieved self-government. The Memorandum
of Understanding in Respect of Financial Arrangements between the Commonwealth
and a Self-Governing Northern Territory
gave the Commonwealth overall
responsibility for Aboriginal affairs including responsibility for homelands
– this included the building of new infrastructure and essential service
infrastructure. Under this MOU, the Northern Territory Government had
responsibility to provide the homelands with the programs and resources
routinely provided through local government municipal services. The Commonwealth
retained responsibility for the homelands until 2008.

In September 2007 the Commonwealth and the Northern Territory Governments
signed a further Memorandum of Understanding. This one was to transfer the
responsibility for Indigenous housing and infrastructure to the Northern
Territory Government. The MOU was entitled Indigenous Housing,
Accommodation and Related Services
and it specified that the Commonwealth
was to have 'no further responsibility for the delivery of Indigenous housing,
municipal, essential and infrastructure services in the Northern Territory from
1 July 2008'.[30]

Under the MOU, the 500 homelands in the Northern Territory were categorised
as ‘third order priority’ communities that ‘will have access
to Housing on Indigenous Land (HOIL) program
funds[31] (but) no Australian
Government funding will be provided to construct housing on outstations/
homelands’.[32] Consequently,
homelands and other smaller Indigenous communities do not receive any assistance
under related programs and homelands are not a priority for federal programs
under the COAG National Indigenous Reform Agreement, and related National
Partnership Agreements.

The MOU provided the Northern Territory Government with funding of $793
million to deliver Indigenous housing and services. It included a specified
allocation of $20 million per year for the first three years to fund municipal,
essential and infrastructure services for homeland
communities.[33] The Northern
Territory Government noted in the MOU that $20 million would be ‘an
insufficient amount to fund adequate services to outstations’ and the
‘unmet need for infrastructure in some
outstations’.[34]
The 2009
Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities noted that
the Northern Territory Government allocates an additional $8 million per annum
for housing repairs and maintenance and the Commonwealth Government has also
provided $5.5 million to the CDEP places to municipal and essential services
positions.[35] These allocations
will not begin to address the future housing and infrastructure needs of
homelands across the Northern Territory, particularly given the backlog demand
for housing and related infrastructure that exists in these communities.

The cessation of housing funding for homelands will seriously compromise
their future. As noted in a submission to the Senate Select Committee on
Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities:

The major implication is no new housing for outstations. Some satellite
communities close to larger settlements might get under the radar and get
funded, but otherwise the huge investment in housing on Indigenous outstations
and homelands to date is basically to be left to depreciate to worthlessness.
There is no replacement program, let alone additional housing. The significant
unmet demand and backlog, and the rapidly growing population, are all to be
ignored. The only way to obtain housing in future will be to move back to the
large communities. The message to Aboriginal people is
clear.[36]

The new funding arrangements of the MOU were made without consultation with
affected homeland communities. However, when the implications of the MOU became
clear, homeland associations and advocates became vocal about its implications.
In response, the Northern Territory Government released a discussion paper and
engaged consultants Socom, Dodson and Lane to conduct community consultations to
inform homeland communities about the new policy and funding arrangements and to
develop a report on homeland administrative
arrangements.[37]

The resultant report, entitled Northern Territory Government Outstations
Policy: Community Engagement Report
, was informed by submissions from
homeland leaders, residents, advocates and others. There have been questions
about the extent to which the Northern Territory’s new homelands policy
has taken heed of the recommendations of this report.
[38]
The new Northern Territory policy,
Working Future outlines eligibility criteria for services to
homelands.[39]

Text Box 4.2: Excerpts from Working Future: Fresh ideas/ real results
– Outstations/ homelands
policy
[40]
Criteria for Support
The following criteria must be met as a pre-condition for support to any
outstation/ homeland:
- the outstation/ homeland must be an existing outstation
- the outstation/ homeland must be the principal place of residence
- there must be an adequate potable water supply
- outstation residents must commit to increasing self-sufficiency,
including through reasonable levels of contribution towards services.
The Northern Territory Government will not financially support the
establishment of new outstations and homelands.
Service Delivery
- Government services to outstations/ homelands will in most cases involve
a form of remote delivery, based from the closest or most accessible hub
town.
- Government will work towards the development and publication of a
Statement of Expectation of Service Delivery to Outstation Residents (SESDOR),
identifying service delivery and access points (hub towns and service centres)
for Government services such as education, health and police.
Education
- Government will provide support to smaller outstations/ homelands through
a range of delivery models including transport to hub town schools, boarding
facilities in hub towns and distance learning.
- Government will continue to provide support to larger outstations/
homelands and homeland clusters through schools, homeland learning centres and
residential models.
Service Delivery Organisations
- Outstation/ homeland service delivery organisations will be required to
develop an annual service delivery plan (based on the SESDOR) for each
outstation/ homeland. Service delivery organisations will negotiate this plan
with outstation/ homeland residents and provide outstation/ homeland residents
with a copy of this plan.
Self-sufficiency
- Reasonable levels of financial contributions from outstation/ homeland
residents for the installation and maintenance of water, electricity and
sanitation is a reasonable expectation of Government.
- Owners of houses on private and communal land are primarily responsible
for repairs and maintenance of their assets, including water supplies.
Housing
- In accordance with the ‘Memorandum of Understanding with the
Northern Territory Government, September 2007’, the Australian Government
will not provide funding to construct housing on outstations in the Northern
Territory.
Information base
- A comprehensive information base on outstations/ homelands will be
developed and maintained to inform policy implementation, monitoring and
evaluation.
Economic Development
- The future of outstations/ homelands lies in their successful innovation
and utilisation of emerging economic opportunities and technologies and not
ongoing reliance on government support.

The Northern Territory Government has reported that some elements of the
Working Future policy remain to be finalised and it is currently
conducting Stage 4 of the homelands and outstations consultations. This work is
expected to be complete by 15 December 2009. The purpose of these consultations
is to formulate a detailed funding allocation model that will be implemented on
1 July 2010. The consultations are to identify potential gaps in funding for
services and support to homelands and
outstations.[41]

Homelands will also miss out on Commonwealth Government funding. Since 2007
funding for addressing Indigenous disadvantage has been identified through COAG
agreements. The National Indigenous Reform Agreement is one of six new National
Agreements between the Commonwealth and state/ territory governments. It is
intended to drive the policies for 'closing the gap' in Indigenous disadvantage.
The National Indigenous Reform Agreement has five National Partnership
Agreements related to Indigenous service delivery which include:

  • Remote Indigenous Service
    Delivery;[42]
  • Indigenous Economic Participation;
  • Indigenous Early Childhood Development;
  • Indigenous Health; and
  • Remote Indigenous Housing.

Much of this COAG funding goes to
large townships and not homelands. For example, only 15 Territory growth towns
were identified for support under the COAG National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service
Delivery
.

Over the years there have been variable levels of government support for
homeland communities. In 1987 the Return to Country report found that
‘...while the Commonwealth, through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs
and other Federal departments and agencies, has supported the homelands
movements by developing broadly supportive policies and guidelines, the states
and Northern Territory have been reluctant to divert significant resources to
homeland centres...’[43] The
limited resources for infrastructure and maintenance over time has meant that
the homelands now have a low resource base.

In its submission to the Northern Territory Government, the Australian Human
Rights Commission noted that overall, homeland populations have been
under-resourced and underfunded for many years.

Due to the relatively small populations of homelands and their dispersal over
large unpopulated regions, many homeland residents have to temporarily relocate
to access services. For example, there are limited education services to
homelands communities. To date, governments have no firm estimates of the number
of school-aged children across the Northern Territory who have no
access to school education, and school staffing is allocated on the basis of
school attendance rather than population
estimates.[44]

^top

4.5 The viability of homelands

Since the 1980s there has been some debate on the viability of homeland
communities. The debate has focussed on the extent to which governments can
justify their expenditure given the relatively small population sizes of
homeland communities. Homeland residents and advocates have argued that
homelands are a necessary and preferred way of life for many Aboriginal people.
Denying people the means to live on traditional lands is denying them the
fundamental rights to self determination.

Helen Hughes, a commentator from the Centre for Independent Studies, has
erroneously argued that homeland communities are not economically or socially
viable. She argues that the relative deprivation of homeland communities is not
due to a lack of government expenditure, but rather to unequal services in
education, housing and healthcare. Over time this has led communities into
welfare dependency and the erosion of families and their
communities.[45]

In contrast, the Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous
Communities noted in its 2008 report that it is the ‘ambiguity and even
absence of policy ...that is having a large impact on the wellbeing of these
communities’.[46]

Similar concerns were raised in a previous Senate review in the 1980s. The
Return to Country report found that governments had tended to limit their
role in homelands to providing only the most basic of facilities, often due to
the expense of providing facilities and services to homelands and the
prioritisation of provision for larger
communities.[47] The Committee
concluded that governments should provide an adequate standard of facilities and
services to homeland communities, with the proviso that both governments and
homeland groups ‘must be prepared to make compromises to ensure that the
homelands movement has a strong
future’.[48]
Richard Norton
of the Laynhapuy Homelands Association has argued that ideas of homelands being
‘cultural museums’ that miss out on mainstream benefits are myths
that have misinformed the debate and need to be debunked. He argues that
homeland communities have been, and continue to be established as a result of
informed choices by communities to live a better lifestyle for themselves and
their children on homelands.[49]
This intent was captured by one of the homeland leaders in a Statement from
Yananymul Mununggurr of Laynhapuy Homelands Association in March 2009:

Being in our Homelands, means that the land owns us, our identity comes from
this land, our Homelands have stories behind them, which is done on bark
paintings, sung in our song lines, danced in our dances; our language comes from
this land, and the history of our land has been handed down generation after
generation.

We are traditional people and we would like to keep it that way, we want our
culture, language, identity to stay strong forever and at the same time we would
like to adapt to that of mainstream Australia. 

We are not moving from our Homelands, we are here to stay, we have rights to
live and work in our Country; we are interconnected with each other and with our
land.[50]

Respected commentators such as John Altman of the Centre for Aboriginal
Economic Policy and Research, and Greg Marks, both of whom have worked with
homeland communities for several years, have also commented positively on the
viability of the homelands movement, but have also noted that homelands have
been undermined as a result of the lack of government investment in housing
infrastructure and municipal and other services in homeland
communities.[51]

Australian Government Ministers, such as the Hon. Warren Snowdon, Minister
for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Services,
have also recognised the viability of the homelands movement:

Outstations or homelands as they are more generally known have been an
integral part of the Northern Territory community for decades. They were
developed by Indigenous people as a deliberate strategy to improve their own
health and well-being.

... the homelands movement started despite governments not because of
them...they were a calculated and deliberate strategy to provide opportunities
for Indigenous people to exercise their cultural responsibilities, and improve
health and safeguard families. It is one of the very few initiatives in
Indigenous affairs which has actually worked and continues to work to this day.

In recent times there has grown a view that homelands are not viable... That
they are beyond the reach of law enforcement, represent some sort of failed
Utopian experiment, and should not be encouraged and should not be supported.
However contrary to such a view there is very strong evidence that homelands
provide positive, creative and constructive lifestyle choices for Indigenous
people.[52]

Aboriginal residents from the Yolŋu homelands identify the purpose of
homelands in the following terms: ‘to determine our own future, to manage
our own affairs, to become self- sufficient so the homeland mala can continue to
live in peace and
harmony’.[53] The very same
purpose was recognised by the Australian Parliament in the Return to
Country
report as early as 1986:

The homelands movement has been very much an Aboriginal initiative,
distinguishing it from many other residential situations of Aboriginal peoples
which have been the result of direct or indirect government influence. ...it is
a clear statement by the Aboriginal people involved of the sort of future they
wish for themselves and their children, a future on land to which they have
spiritual and economic ties and a future over which they have much greater
control.[54]

The homelands movement emerged during the era of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples claiming their right to self-determination, and it has
continued to be sustained on this principle of self-determination, that is now
recognised in articles 1, 3 and 4 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples
.

Homelands have been established, developed and maintained predominantly by
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, in conjunction with Indigenous
owned and run resource centres. The Laynhapuy Homelands Association is an
example of an effective homelands resource centre that is Aboriginal owned and
run. It supports 24 homelands in North East Arnhem
Land.[55]

Lahynapuy Homelands Association (Photo: Fabienne Balsamo 2009

Lahynapuy Homelands Association (Photo: Fabienne Balsamo 2009)

Case Study 4.1: Laynhapuy Homelands Association
Incorporated[56]
Laynhapuy Homelands Association Incorporated is located in Yirrkala,
Northern Territory. It is a member based association of Yolŋu clans from
the Laynhapuy, Djalkirripuyngu and Miyarrkapunyngu areas of North East Arnhem
Land, and more recently the clan groups from Gapuwiyak
homelands.[57]
In April 1972, senior Aboriginal leaders and their extended families
decided to move back to their traditional clan land and sea country. The
self-reliance and ethos of community development underlay the establishment of
each community from the start. Community members cleared their air strips,
mainly by hand, and built the early houses using homeland timber and
residents’ labour, under the supervision of qualified builders. In 1985
the homeland communities established the Laynhapuy Homelands Association
Incorporated, from which they source service and infrastructure support.
Today there are 24 permanently occupied
homelands[58] that are serviced and
supported by Laynhapuy Homelands Association Incorporated. They have a
population of 1200 residents during the dry season and 800 residents during the
wet season. The largest homeland has an approximate population of 150 people.
The homelands are based up to 300 kilometers from Yirrkala and spread across an
area of 10,500 square kilometres. The homelands are all on Aboriginal land held
as inalienable freehold title by the Arnhem Land Aboriginal Lands Trust,
established under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (Northern Territory)
1976
.
The Association is incorporated under the Northern Territory
Associations Act
as a not for profit organisation with the tax status of a
public benevolent institution and a tax deductible gift recipient.
The Association has an Aboriginal Board of Directors and employed staff.
75% of all salaried staff positions are held by local Yolŋu people. This
includes apprentices in construction, health workers, truck drivers,
administrative staff, managers, rangers, project and field staff and the Chief
Executive Officer.
The Association is structured to provide services and support to member
homeland communities for:
  • Maintenance and protection of country and culture
  • Employment training and economic development
  • Communication and infrastructure
  • Health, social welfare, community development and
    education.
The resource centre assists in the maintenance of 20
airstrips, 150 dwellings, bores, tanks and power supply systems, 5 homeland
offices and related phone, fax, internet communication systems, 9 homeland
clinics/ clinic rooms and 540 kilometers of minor roads.
The resource centre has also established the Yirralka ranger program
(including the Indigenous Protected Area) which enables traditional owners to be
involved in the cultural and environmental management of their land and sea
country.
In addition to the resource centre, the Association is a CDEP provider,
managing 310 CDEP participants. There is currently an unmet demand for a further
410 places.
Primary school education is provided in 5 homelands by the Northern
Territory Education Department, through the Yirrkala Homelands Schools.
Secondary education is provided through a boarding school established in the
homeland Garthalala. The secondary school and boarding facilities were
constructed and funded by the community, with construction assistance provided
by Rotary volunteers.[59] A VOQ
training facility was established in 2007 at Yilpara homeland and further
training facilities are planned for Gangan, Wandawuy, Dhalinybuy and Garrthalala
homelands, where construction is to begin soon.
The Laynhapuy Aviation Pty Ltd was established in 1987 to provide regular
transport for homeland community members.
The member homelands of Laynhapuy Homelands Association Incorporated
demonstrate 30 years of independent, community based development and
self-management.
This is our land, our songlines. We are not moving. We will live and die
here. We know the sacred sites on this land, we know the names of the bays and
the rivers. We have the sea rights and the land rights. These need to be
recognised. We own and live in these places. As soon as we got these rights
people went back to their lands and have remained there. We are not going back
to another people’s country. We want to live and work and see our children
grow up in the homelands. We have rights there. It is better to have
self-management. The government should accept this. (Laynhapuy Homelands
Association Incorporated Board Member)
Factors for success
The cultural integrity retained amongst the communities of these homelands,
signified by their maintenance of language and cultural traditions, and their
active engagement in the development of their homeland communities, is for these
communities an indicator of the success and effectiveness of the homelands
movement. In addition the Association reports that the homelands are alcohol
free, so issues such as alcohol related violence, anti-social behaviour and
gambling are not significant problems. Similarly, reports of child abuse are
low, while health status and school attendance are reportedly better than in
larger, centralised communities.

(a) Homelands – realisation of the right to health

While homeland communities can suffer from a lack of access to health care
services, there is a wealth of research demonstrating the positive health
benefits derived from living on
homelands.[60]

Evidence from a study conducted over a ten year interval at the Utopia
homelands in the Northern Territory found that ‘mortality rates at the
Utopia community were substantially lower than for Indigenous people in the
Northern Territory as a whole...The factors associated with the particularly
good outcomes here are likely to include outstation living, with its attendant
benefits for physical activity and diet and limited access to alcohol, as well
as social factors, including connectedness to culture, family and land, and
opportunities for
self-determination.’[61] This
is consistent with other research that also found lower incidences of mortality,
hospitalisation, hypertension, diabetes and injury among Aboriginal people
living in homelands, compared to living in centralised
settlements.[62]

A large element of the health benefit is the social and emotional well being
many homeland community members derive from living on country in smaller
communities – removed from stressors such as community conflicts, alcohol
and violence.[63]

The following case study of the Mt Theo Outstation shows how one community
used its traditional country to run a social well-being program for young
Aboriginal people engaging in risky behaviours.

Mt Theo Outstation (Photo: Fabienne Balsamo 2009)

Mt Theo Outstation (Photo: Fabienne Balsamo 2009)

Case Study 4.2: Mt Theo
Outstation[64]
The Mt Theo outstation lies on the lands of Johnny Japangardi Miller and
his family. It is located 160 kilometres from Yuendumu, a remote Aboriginal
township on the edge of the Tanami Desert in the Northern Territory. The Miller
family lives and moves between Yuendumu and Mt Theo.
In 1994 Johnny, with his wife Peggy Brown, Andrew Stojanovski and the
support of other Warlpirri elders and local community organisations in Yuendumu,
created the Mt Theo-Yuendumu Substance Misuse Aboriginal Corporation. It was a
Corporation with an aim to provide rehabilitation for young petrol sniffers from
Yuendumu. The rehabilitation was to take place at the Mt Theo Outstation.
In 1994 there were more than 70 regular 'sniffers' in Yuendumu from an
estimated population of around 800-1000 people. The community was facing
significant problems at the hands of the sniffers, including violence and
property damage.[65]
The aim of the Mt Theo program was to create a space where young people
with substance abuse problems could be isolated and given time and therapy to
assist them to recover and heal. It was to be a place where youth could learn
traditional culture and break their
addiction.[66]
How the program works
Initially, young sniffers were sent to Mt Theo by community consent for at
least one month and more often for two to three months. The program adopted a
zero tolerance approach and a solid model of early intervention to ensure there
was an immediate response for any young person engaging in petrol sniffing.
The program is based on elders providing cultural healing and coordinating
outdoor activities such as gardening and traditional hunting. Many of Johnny and
Peggy’s family members are involved in running the program. Family members
live out on the Outstation while caring for the children. The family members of
the young people were also allowed to go and visit and often stay as well.
They learn by themselves to behave, look to the future, and see how to
treat their children. It is about bringing real change in young people’s
lives. If Mt Theo wasn’t there, we would have seen a lot more kids
dying.[67]
The closest main road to Mt Theo is 50kms away. So the family built a
feeder road to Mt Theo themselves. At first they lived in wooden humpies and had
only a small hand pump on the site. Gradually they erected small corrugated
metal sheds at the site for the children and undertook all aspects of care for
the children while they were placed out there. As the program grew, there was a
need for more infrastructure on the site to accommodate the youth and their
visiting family members. The council built a building on the site for the
program in the 1990s. More recently new dormitories for both boys and girls,
with a kitchen and toilets were built. There is also a solar phone, electricity
and water on site. The program receives government funding for salaries for 8
people.
At the height of the program, a teacher from Yuendumu attended one day a
week to teach reading and writing to the residents. This has since ceased as
there is not a regular and sustained student population at Mt Theo now.
For many years the Mt Theo community had been lobbying for low aromatic and
non-intoxicating fuel – Opal fuel to stop petrol sniffing. With the
introduction of Opal fuel in 2007 the number of petrol sniffers in Yuendumu
reduced to zero. Mt Theo Outstation now operates as a place of rehabilitation
for young people with any ‘at risk’ behaviours such as substance
abuse, violence or mental health problems. Young people are referred to Mt Theo
Outstation by community Elders, police and the Corrections
Department.[68] Mt Theo has also
extended its services to Warlpiri young people beyond Yuendumu. As of 2008, Mt
Theo Outstation has taken over 500 young Warlpiri clients from over 14 different
communities, including Alice Springs.
The program could be further enhanced in future by the provision of a
teacher on-site; internet access for residents; financial support for transport;
and the ongoing development and maintenance of infrastructure.
Other related programs
A Youth Prevention Program was started in Yuendumu to offer young people
some active and healthy alternatives to petrol sniffing and to support young
'graduates' returning from Mt Theo. Indigenous youth workers run activities for
the young people of Yuendumu and Willowra (aged 4-17 years), including swimming,
Aus-kick, singing and dancing. The goal is to engage young people in fun and
healthy activities, reduce boredom and provide positive alternatives to petrol
sniffing.
Extending on this prevention work, the Jaru Pirrjirdi 'Strong Voices' -
Youth Development Project works with young adults (aged 17-30 years) in the
community to address the underlying causes of petrol sniffing and help develop a
strong, skilled and dedicated group of young leaders for Yuendumu.
Factors for success
The 2006 Commonwealth Senate report into petrol sniffing highlighted the
success of the Mt Theo Program and recommended that funding be made available to
interested communities to develop programs based on the same principles of
intervention and support. The program is now used as a model for other remote
communities in the Northern Territory, where there is an estimated 600 addicted
petrol sniffers and 120 people left brain damaged from the
practice.[69]
The manager of the Mt Theo program, Susie Low, has noted that the success
of the program comes from ‘local Aboriginal people taking control and
supporting one another. This has allowed the community to use Warlpiri values
and culturally appropriate ways of working. It is the families' combined
strength and determination that has allowed this program to
prosper’.[70]
Developing the program on country, and living and working in the homeland
community is another central success factor.
Homelands still belong to the people, we want to build homes on our land
and live there. When we come to the homeland we come back to the peace and
quiet. We don’t want to be crowded in Yuendumu. It is a much better
environment on the homelands, better things for the
children.[71]
Families like the Miller family still have a strong connection with their
country. Their sense of connection with the land giving not only the Miller
family, but also the young people who come to the Mt Theo outstation, the
strength.
Our land makes us strong; language and ceremony is what makes the community
strong. Culture, learning for the next generation keeps the land really
strong.[72]

The Mt Theo Outstation case study demonstrates that even though a family or
community may not permanently reside at the homeland, there is still social,
cultural and economic value in having access to the homeland. The benefit is in
removing oneself from the problems in the centralized township, working in
context of one’s own country, and creating a space and means of
transmitting cultural lifestyles and knowledge. The Miller family would not have
been able to achieve the same results living on other peoples’ country in
town. The case study also demonstrates how the right to health, as recognised
in article 24 of the Declaration can be implemented in a manner that is
grounded in cultural traditions and that uses culturally-informed
strategies.

However, the case study highlights the significant government costs that are
required to provide adequate infrastructure such as housing, electricity, water,
sanitation and roads. The expense can be a barrier, but the economic benefit can
be significant. To date, no cost benefit analysis has been done to measure the
health and welfare savings to government when one petrol sniffer is
rehabilitated. Governments must weigh these costs and these benefits in relation
to homelands.

(b) Homelands – realisation of the right to economic
development

Some commentators have labelled homelands as economically unviable because of
their remoteness from mainstream markets and employment and education
opportunities. Most notably in 2005, the then Indigenous Affairs Minister,
Amanda Vanstone, argued that small communities had a limited future because of
their limited resources and referred to them as ‘cultural
museums’.[73]

While there is no argument that small communities are further away from
markets and other resources found in larger towns, some small communities have
been developing economically viable projects.
For example, some homeland
communities are participating in land management and conservation projects on
their traditional country. This has included fire abatement projects that serve
to mitigate the effects of climate
change.[74]
The Central Land
Council has compiled evidence of activity in land and sea management, fisheries
protection, resource development, seed collection, the management of feral
animals and the management of introduced plant species in some of the remotest
regions of Australia. [75] All of
these activities are employment options for individuals and actions to protect
the biodiversity of Australia’s flora and fauna.

Resource management projects on homelands generate opportunities for
conservation and economic
development.[76] One example of this
activity is the Working on Country program which funds Aboriginal people
to maintain, restore and protect their lands and seas. The Working on
Country
program builds on the value of traditional knowledge in land
management. It is an innovative strategy for economic development that complies
with cultural practices and the right to self-determination.

Participating in the art industry has been another source of economic
development for many homeland communities, as well as being a means of
practicing and revitalising Indigenous cultural traditions and customs in
accordance with articles 11 and 12 of the Declaration. These ventures
have been possible because the artists are living on country, maintaining their
cultural traditions, and creating art arising from cultural knowledge. Such
programs are able to combine the benefits of community and culture with
commercial benefits.

The arts are all coming from the homelands. The homelands are really
important to us – it is where we belong. I know the land, the rocks, to me
it is home. I can do my own patterns and designs from my country and I can earn
money from this. Our art is our resource. We produce our art ourselves to
maintain our culture, law, ceremonies and songs. If you got to the homelands you
can see the sacred sites that inspire the art. Art and making ceremonies for
sacred sites was our way of telling others that this was our
country.[77]

The cultural and commercial success of the Indigenous visual arts industry
has relied upon the land rights and homelands movements. These movements have
enabled Indigenous communities to retain their links with their lands and
cultures, which in turn have given form to the diverse range of Indigenous art
forms.[78]

Homeland communities such as Mapuru have followed another path for economic
development. They have been building cultural tourism projects. Such projects
would not be possible if the community was residing in a centralised
community.

SJR_Ch402.jpg

Roslyn Malngumba, Linda Marathuwarr, and Caroline Gulumindiwuy at Mapuru
(Photo: Fabienne Balsamo 2009)

Case Study 4.3:
Mapuru[79]
History of Mapuru
In the 1950s and 60s, the families hunted crocodiles and traded the skins
with the mission at Elcho Island. Once the crocodiles became protected, the
families continued to live on their ancestral lands supporting themselves
through logging. The timber was used at the mission on Elcho and exported to
Darwin, a trade which ended by the early 1970s. Mapuru was established in the
late 1960s by two families. The site was selected because of its proximity to
fresh water. They started with a bark hut, and built the first airstrip
themselves, clearing the area by hand over 5 months.
Current status of Mapuru
  • The regular population is approximately 70 people including approximately 40
    children. Greater numbers of family members commonly return to Mapuru at funeral
    times.
  • 24 of the community members are on CDEP.
  • Mapuru has three resident assistant teachers and two visiting teachers who
    attend for up to 4 days a week. A mix of Yirritja and Dhuwa languages are used
    to teach English in the school. The students learn painting and weaving in
    addition to the standard curriculum.
  • The school is considered an outreach centre of Shepherdson College, a
    government school on Elcho Island, and does not receive independent funds from
    the Northern Territory or Commonwealth Governments. The resident teachers
    receive few professional development opportunities and no access to computer
    facilities through the government. In 2002, Northern Territory and federal
    government funding was provided to have new accommodation built for visiting
    teachers.
  • The Mapuru community established a food cooperative in 2002, which has won
    the National Heart Foundation award for a Small Community Initiative. However,
    the cooperative was not approved for the Basics Card scheme under the Northern
    Territory Intervention. So community members whose welfare or pension benefits
    are subject to income management cannot expend their income at the store.
    Instead they have to travel by charter planes or boat to Elcho Island to
    purchase groceries with their income managed funds.
  • Health workers visit Mapuru every fortnight to provide information,
    undertake health checks and provide medication.
To develop our
homeland we have developed our school, our community store, our own economic
development projects – these have all been our own initiatives. We are
thinking about and creating every aspect of our community to allow our people to
continue. If we had sports here and a really big shop then we could get
everything here.[80]
Cultural Tourism Project – Arnhem Weavers
The Mapuru homeland community runs a tourism project, where they have
cultural tours and workshops for small groups of tourists who can come and live
in Mapuru for 1-2 weeks, and learn about weaving and other traditional
activities such as:
  • Pandanus weaving, including pandanus collection, preparation, dyeing, and
    weaving
  • Mewana (reed) weaving (for the more experienced)
  • String making (using Banyan and Brachychiton barks)
  • Bush medicines
  • Harvesting of yams, fruits, shellfish, fish (seasonal)
  • Preparation and production of cycad bread
  • House and shelter construction and
  • Trekking, following pre-contact paths across country
Linda
Marathuwarr, one of the workshop leaders, says the thinking behind the tours was
that ‘white people should learn something about us, the way we learn about
them’. The programs offer unique opportunities for Yolŋu and
non-Yolŋu to sit together, talk, laugh and learn more about each
other.
The first year, in 2003, there was only one tour. This has since grown and
in 2009 there were 6 tours organised for February, June, July, September and
October. New programs are being added over time, expanding to include programs
for men and families. The workshops generate a minimum of approximately
$5000 per workshop.
For 7 years the project has grown without any government funding or
external assistance. This is a source of pride for the community members, but
also essential to the sustainability of the project. As one community member
noted, ‘If we accept any assistance we might be giving away too much of
our independence’.
The women’s woven products (baskets and mats) are also sold through
the tours and the internet, and occasionally through community arts centres on
Elcho Island and Yirrkala. The tours and the weaving products are advertised in
mainstream markets primarily through the website (http://www.arnhemweavers.com.au/).
The program is considered an important means of generating employment and
financial independence for Mapuru community members, with the aim of creating a
welfare-free future for their children and
grandchildren.[81]
Factors for success
The project is a good example of Indigenous tourism that can be done on
country, by Indigenous communities themselves.
Through the tourism project we are creating a future for the children. We
need something to work for. We need to create work here that is economically
viable. It doesn’t need to be a lot of money, but it needs to be enough to
sustain the community; to enable the children to live here in the future,
otherwise they have no future. These kinds of projects can’t be done in
Elcho Island or Darwin, they have to be done on
country.[82]
The importance of undertaking projects such as Arnhem Weavers is steeped in
the continuing relationship with the land and living on country:
We remember the song lines. There is spirit in the wind, in the lands, and
the spirit is related to us. It is a family. We can’t share and show the
spirit on someone else’s country. You have to tell your story from own
place. You get power from the land to tell your story, in the class room it has
no power.[83]
Importantly, the project has also generated self-esteem among community
members. ‘It warms me, reinforces my humanity to have people come and
understand and reaffirm our lives and
culture’[84].

(c) Homelands – realisation of Indigenous cultural rights

The return to homelands has been an important means of ‘fulfilling
cultural obligations including caring for country, intergenerational
transmission of traditional law and culture, and greater
autonomy’.[85]

The homelands movement has been a critical strategy of cultural survival for
many Aboriginal communities. The survival of culture is not limited to
preserving a static, historical culture, but refers to continuing culture, as it
continues to grow and evolve. Living and being on country can continue to inform
individual and community cultural identities.

For Aboriginal people, land is not only our mother – the source of our
identity and our spirituality – it is also the context for our human order
and inquiry.

Our identity as human beings remains tied to our land, to our cultural
practices, our systems of authority and social control, our intellectual
traditions, our concepts of spirituality, and to our systems of resource
ownership and exchange. Destroy this relationship and you damage –
sometimes irrevocably – individual human beings and their
health.[86]

Our culture is not built around large centralised communities – to
practice our culture, we need to be on our land, where we have the right
authority to be able to paint it. Our art is linked to the place. Our culture
can’t be taught in the
suburbs.[87]

By promoting cultural identity and regeneration, the homelands movement is an
active implementation of the rights to culture recognised in the UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
:

Article 11
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize
their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain,
protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their
cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs,
ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.
2.
States shall provide redress through effective mechanisms, which may include
restitution, developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples, with respect to
their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without
their free, prior and informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions
and customs.

Article 12
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practise,
develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and
ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their
religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their
ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human
remains.

The cultural regeneration that continues to emerge through the homelands
movement, provides a strong asset base for future economic development that
manifest as environmental management programs, cultural tourism, and the arts
industry.

(d) Homelands: government policy killing them softly?

While the homelands movement has been an initiative of Aboriginal
communities, government policies and programs have to a greater or lesser extent
enabled or supported the homelands movement. Several such policies and programs
have contributed to the emergence of the homelands movement.

Since 2007, some federal and Northern Territory Government policies and
programs have been introduced that could have a significant negative impact on
the continuation and growth of homeland communities. These include:

  • The transfer of responsibility from the federal government to the Northern
    Territory Government for the delivery of municipal and essential services to
    homelands, starting 1 July 2008, under the MOU on Indigenous Housing,
    Accommodation and Related Services.
  • The introduction of the Northern Territory Emergency Response to address
    sexual abuse and family violence in Indigenous communities in the Northern
    Territory.
  • The replacement of Indigenous community councils with shire councils under
    the Local Government Act 2008, has displaced Aboriginal people as
    constituents in the decision-making process and removed the social capital that
    had developed through the community councils. The introduction of shire councils
    has reduced the level of community engagement and input from homeland
    communities into the shire council’s decisions on the delivery of
    municipal and other services.
  • The gradual withdrawal of CDEP from remote areas – to be phased out by
    2011 - has reduced financial support for community work on homelands. CDEP wages
    are being converted to welfare payments. While the Commonwealth Government
    intends to convert some CDEP positions into full time employment, some part-time
    positions will be lost in
    transition.[88]
  • The federal government’s National Partnership Agreement on Remote
    Service Delivery
    , has prioritised services in 26 selected sites in
    Australia.[89] Fifteen communities
    in the Northern Territory have been identified as a selected
    sites.[90] Much of the
    funding commitments made through such COAG agreements is for prioritised,
    larger, Indigenous communities, with comparatively lower levels of resources and
    service provision being made available in other smaller, communities, many of
    which are homeland communities.

(e) The hub and spoke model of
service delivery to homelands

The Northern Territory Government’s Working Future policy
outlines a service delivery model known as the ‘hub and spoke’
model. Under this model, large regional towns are the service hubs and smaller
outlying communities, like homelands, are the spokes. Outlying communities are
serviced by personnel from the regional hubs. Visiting personnel visit the
outlying communities and provide a part-time out-reach service. Health care,
infrastructure maintenance and education services are all provided by visiting
workers. Twenty selected communities across the Northern Territory are currently
identified as hub communities.[91]

The Commission’s submission to the Northern Territory
Government’s Discussion paper on homelands critiques the hub and spoke
model approach outlining the following risks:

  • The hub and spoke model, while being a useful model for service delivery in
    some areas such as housing maintenance and infrastructure including roads, it is
    not a model that fits all areas of service delivery. The hub and spoke model is
    not capable of providing quality services in areas such as education.
  • The under-resourcing of education services to homelands is an ongoing issue
    that the Commission has previously commented
    upon.[92] Given that up to 1,000
    school-aged children in the Arnhem region alone have limited or no access to
    school education, it is now a matter of urgency that the Northern Territory
    Government audit homeland populations and provides accessible and acceptable
    education services to the current and projected school-aged populations of these
    communities.
  • The hub and spoke model should be abandoned for the purposes of education
    provision, and governments should enter into negotiations with homelands
    stakeholders to determine appropriate education service delivery. The education
    model at Garrthalala in Arnhem Land is an example of the ways in which homeland
    residents, volunteers, governments and Homeland Associations can work together
    to achieve quality education outcomes that suit local requirements.
  • A fixed criteria eligibility model, such as the hub and spoke model, does
    not allow for contingencies and local differences. For example, setting
    population threshold as a criteria for service delivery, does not take into
    consideration the mobility of populations common to homelands. For instance,
    homeland residents move temporarily to regions where their children can access
    schools or where their kin can access health services. Or that small homelands
    can swell to much larger communities during times of ceremony, which can occur
    over periods of months.
  • Where the prioritisation of service delivery to hub towns occurs at the
    expense of on-site service delivery in homeland communities, this can
    significantly undermine the development of sustainable Indigenous homelands. As
    a result, homeland community members may have to travel long distances and
    occasionally temporarily relocate into hub areas to access services. Similarly,
    the lack of resources for new homelands will adversely affect an increasing
    Aboriginal population in the Northern
    Territory.[93]

(f)
Where to from here?

To date, homeland residents and leaders have been largely excluded from
direct participation in the development of policies on homelands and
outstations. In 2009, the Laynhapuy Homelands Association has called upon the
Northern Territory Government and the federal government to develop homelands
policy with the participation of its leaders.

It is now time to work together, hand in hand, in equal partnership and
responsibility, and for us to be part of this process, and for us to be part of
the solution.[94]

In October 2009, the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and the
Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research held a forum bringing together
experts from peak Aboriginal organisations, homeland resource agencies,
academics and researchers. The purpose of the forum was to examine the current
government policies for homelands. The forum issued a communiqué to the
Prime Minister calling for the government to:

  • - recognise the cultural, environmental and strategic importance of
    homelands/ outstations, and particularly for their significance for Aboriginal
    livelihoods, health, education and well being and for the provision of
    environmental services;
  • - assess the compatibility of the current policy on homelands/ outstations
    with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and refer the
    issue of homelands/ outstations to a Parliamentary
    inquiry.[95]

^top

4.6
Conclusion

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognises the
rights of Indigenous peoples to self-determination, to participation in their
own development and to the promotion and revitalisation of their cultural
traditions and customs.

Having formally supported the Declaration, the Australian Government
now needs to shift its attention to the implementation of the provisions of the
Declaration. Key to its implementation in Australia, will be government
support for Indigenous peoples to realise their own development through
initiatives that develop their right to self-determination. To this end the
government can play a positive role by reviewing its policies, programs and
mechanisms for service delivery, in line with the rights recognised under the
UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous peoples have the right to define and decide on their own
development priorities. This means they have the right to participate in the
formulation, implementation and evaluation of plans and programmes for national
and regional development that may affect them. This principle is re-affirmed as
one of the objectives of the Second International Decade on the World’s
Indigenous People. The principle requires that UN programmes and projects also
take measures to involve indigenous peoples in all stages of the development
process.[96]

A central tenet of Indigenous peoples’ rights is our right to effective
participation in policies that affect us. The ‘human person is the central
subject of development and should be the active participant and beneficiary of
the right’.[97]

It is essential that governments allow homeland leaders and residents to
participate in the development of policies that will affect their future and way
of life.

Text Box 4.3: Statement from Dr Gawirrin Gumana AO, Thursday, 21 May
2009
My name is Dr Gawirrin Gumana AO of Gangan, and I am one of the old people
who fought for our Land Rights. Government, I would like to pass this on to you,
my words now.
If you are looking for people to move out, if you want to move us around
like cattle, like others who have already gone to the cities and towns, I tell
you, I don't want to play these games.
Government, if you don't help our Homelands, and try to starve me from my
land, I tell you, you can kill me first. You will have to shoot me.
Listen to me.
I don't want to move again like my father moved from Gangan to other places
like Yirrkala or Groote. I don't want my children to move. I don't want my
family to move.
I will not lose my culture and my tribe to your games like a bird moving
from place to place, looking for it's camp or to sleep in other places, on other
people's land that is not our land.
I do not want my people will move from here and die in other places. I
don't want this. We don't want this.
I am an Aboriginal from mud, red mud.
I am black, I am red, I am yellow, and I will not take my people from here
to be in these other places.
We want to stay on our own land. We have our culture, we have our law, we
have our land rights, we have our painting and carving, we have our stories from
our old people, not only my people, but everyone, all Dhuwa and Yirritja, we are
not making this up.
I want you to listen to me Government.
I know you have got the money to help our Homelands. But you also know
there is money to be made from Aboriginal land.
You should trust me, and you should help us to live here, on our land, for
my people.
I am talking for all Yolŋu now.
So if you can't trust me Government, if you can't help me Government, come
and shoot me, because I will die here before I let this
happen.[98]

^top

4.7 Recommendation

In order to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples
, particularly Articles 3, 11, 12, 20 and 21, that the Australian and
Northern Territory Governments commit to:

  • Review the Working Future policy with the active participation of
    representative leaders from homeland communities
  • Develop and implement future homeland policies with the active participation
    of leaders from homeland communities and
  • Provide funding and support for homeland communities in all states and
    territories through the COAG National Indigenous Reform Agreement and associated
    National Partnership Agreements.

^top


[1] P Brown Mt Theo Outstation
Co-Founder, Meeting at Mt Theo, 23 April
2009
[2] P Dodson cited in S
Everingham, ‘Killing us softly: Dodson slams outstations plan’,
ABC News Online, 2 June 2009, http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/06/02/2587462.htm
(viewed 7 September 2009).
[3]
Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision, Overcoming
Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2009
(2009) p 9. At http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0013/90130/overview-booklet.pdf
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[4]
Socom + DodsonLane (D Suggit, P Dodson and P Lane), Outstations Policy:
Community Engagement Report
, Northern Territory Government, (2009), p 5. At
http://www.workingfuture.nt.gov.au/download/Community_Engagement_Report.pdf
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[5]
Northern Territory Government, Working Future: Fresh Ideas/ Real Results
– Headline Policy Statement
(2009). At http://www.workingfuture.nt.gov.au/download/Headline_Policy_Statement.pdf
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[6]
Australian Human Rights Commission, Submission to the Office of Indigenous
Policy Northern Territory Department of Chief Minister - Outstations Policy
Discussion Paper
(15 December 2008), par 12. At http://humanrights.gov.au/legal/submissions/sj_submissions/20081215_outstations.html#Heading64
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[7]
Australian Human Rights Commission, Submission to the Office of Indigenous
Policy Northern Territory Department of Chief Minister - Outstations Policy
Discussion Paper
(15 December 2008), par 13. At http://humanrights.gov.au/legal/submissions/sj_submissions/20081215_outstations.html#Heading64
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[8] G
Marks, Outstation Policy – how we got from there to here (Paper to
the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and Centre for Aboriginal
Economic Policy Research Forum on homelands/outstations and similar small remote
Aboriginal communities across Australia, ANU Canberra, 27-28 October 2009), p 3.

[9] House of Representatives
Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Parliament of Australia, Return to
Country: The Aboriginal Homelands Movement in Australia
(1987), p
5.
[10] House of Representatives
Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Parliament of Australia, Return to
Country: The Aboriginal Homelands Movement in Australia
(1987), p
7.
[11] Socom + DodsonLane (D
Suggit, P Dodson and P Lane), Outstations Policy: Community Engagement
Report
, Northern Territory Government, (2009), p 5. At http://www.workingfuture.nt.gov.au/download/Community_Engagement_Report.pdf
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[12]
See also: Australian Human Rights Commission, Submission to the Office of
Indigenous Policy Northern Territory Department of Chief Minister - Outstations
Policy Discussion Paper
(15 December 2008), par 24. At http://humanrights.gov.au/legal/submissions/sj_submissions/20081215_outstations.html#Heading64
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[13]
The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, Cattle Station
Industry (Northern Territory) Award 1951
, 7 March 1966. The Conciliation and
Arbitration Commission’s decision proposed variations to the Cattle
Station Industry (Northern Territory) Award 1951
to delete the clauses which
excluded Aboriginal pastoral workers from the award, but deferred the date of
implementation to 1 December 1968. Also discussed in E Johnston, ‘Land
Needs: Outstations and the exit option’, Royal Commission into
Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, National Report Volume 2,
(1998) ch 19. At http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/IndigLRes/rciadic/national/vol2/index.html
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[14]
Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth), s 3. At http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/alrta1976444/s3.html#aboriginal
(viewed 14 November 2009).
[15] Department of the Chief
Minister, Northern Territory Government, Overarching Agreement on Indigenous
Affairs between the Commonwealth of Australia and the Northern Territory of
Australia, 2005-2010
(2005). At http://mysource1.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/43070/OverarchingAgreement.pdf
(viewed 14 November
2009).

[16] Department of
Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Living in the Sunburnt
Country – Indigenous Housing: Findings of the Review of the Community
Housing and Infrastructure Programme
(2007). At http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/indigenous/pubs/housing/LivingSunburntCountry/Pages/p2.aspx)
(viewed 21 December 2009).
[17] G
Marks, Submission to the Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote
Indigenous Communities Inquiry into the Northern Territory Regional and Remote
Indigenous Communities
(2008). At http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/Committee/indig_ctte/submissions/sub30.pdf
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[18]
Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian Government and the Northern
Territory Government, Indigenous Housing, Accommodation and Related
Services
. September 2007. At: http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/indig_ctte/submissions/sub28_attachment_8.pdf
(viewed 16 December 2009)
[19]
COAG, National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery (2008).
At http://www.coag.gov.au/intergov_agreements/federal_financial_relations/docs/national_partnership/
national_partnership_on_remote_service_delivery_with_amended_schedule.rtf

(viewed 17 September 2009).
[20]
Other useful reports and papers on the homelands movement include: HC Coombs,
‘Homeland Movement’, in HC Coombs, Aboriginal Autonomy
(1994); J Altman, In search of an outstations policy for Indigenous
Australians,
CAEPR Working Paper 34 (2006). At www.anu.edu.au/caepr/working.php
(viewed 17 September 2009); G Marks, Submission to the Senate Select
Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities Inquiry into the
Northern Territory Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities
(2008). At http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/Committee/indig_ctte/submissions/sub30.pdf
(viewed 17 September 2009); J Downing and M Smith, Ngurra walytja, country of
my spirit
(1988).
[21] House
of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Parliament of
Australia, Return to Country: The Aboriginal Homelands Movement in
Australia
(1987), p 8.
[22]
House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Parliament of
Australia, Return to Country: The Aboriginal Homelands Movement in
Australia
(1987), p 14.
[23]
E Johnston, ‘Land Needs: Outstations and the exit option’, Royal
Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, National Report Volume 2,

(1998) ch 19. At http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/IndigLRes/rciadic/national/vol2/index.html
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[24]
M Anda and S Dallas, Delivering Essential Services in Desert Indigenous
Settlements,
(Paper to the National Housing Conference, Perth, 28-29 October
2005), pp 310-311. At http://www.nationalhousingconference.org.au/downloads/2005/Refereed/15Anda.pdf
(viewed 17 September 2009)..
[25]
House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Parliament of
Australia, Return to Country: The Aboriginal Homelands Movement in
Australia
(1987), p 18.
[26]
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Housing and Infrastructure in Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Communities, Australia, 2001
, Cat. no. 4710.0 (2001),
p 14. At http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4710.0Main+Features12001?OpenDocument
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[27]
Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities,
Parliament of Australia, First Report (2008), pars 2.4 and 2.10. At http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/Committee/indig_ctte/reports/2008/report1/c02.htm
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[28]
Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities,
Parliament of Australia, First Report (2008), par 2.6. At http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/Committee/indig_ctte/reports/2008/report1/c02.htm
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[29]
In 2007, the Community Housing and Infrastructure Program (CHIP) was reviewed.
The review report, Living in the Sunburnt Country – Indigenous Housing:
Findings of the Review of the Community Housing and Infrastructure
Programme
, identified problems relating to the limited availability of
public housing and private rental housing; and limited opportunities for home
ownership. The report recommended CHIP be replaced with a new housing program
for remote and very remote Indigenous communities, and recommended a shift away
from building new housing on outstations and homelands. As a result of the
closure of CHIP, many of the previous Indigenous housing programs were
incorporated into mainstream housing programs. (Department of Families,
Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Living in the Sunburnt Country
– Indigenous Housing: Findings of the Review of the Community Housing and
Infrastructure Programme
(2007). At http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/indigenous/pubs/housing/LivingSunburntCountry/Pages/p2.aspx).
The new Australian Remote Indigenous Accommodation Program was introduced in
2008/09, which forms part of the National Partnership Agreement on Remote
Indigenous Housing (2009)
(http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/indigenous/progserv/housing/Pages/RemoteIn…).
[30]
Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian Government and the Northern
Territory Government, Indigenous Housing, Accommodation and Related
Services
, September 2007.
At http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/indig_ctte/submissions/sub28_attachment_8.pdf
(viewed 7 September 2009).

[31] The Home Ownership on
Indigenous Land (HOIL) program aims to provide home ownership as a viable option
for Indigenous people who are able to obtain a long-term transferable lease on
Indigenous land and who are able to service a home loan through Indigenous
Business Australia. The program was announced as a 2006-2007 Budget measure,
with approximately $107.4 million allocated over a period of four years.
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs,
Home Ownership on Indigenous Land, http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/indigenous/progserv/housing/Pages/HomeOwnershiponIndigenousLand.aspx
(viewed 1 December 2009).
[32]
Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian Government and the Northern
Territory Government, Indigenous Housing, Accommodation and Related
Services
, September 2007, par 17.
At http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/indig_ctte/submissions/sub28_attachment_8.pdf
(viewed 7 September 2009).
[33]
Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian Government and the Northern
Territory Government, Indigenous Housing, Accommodation and Related
Services
, September 2007, par 24.
At http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/indig_ctte/submissions/sub28_attachment_8.pdf
(viewed 7 September 2009).
[34]
Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian Government and the Northern
Territory Government, Indigenous Housing, Accommodation and Related
Services
, September 2007, par 25.
At http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/indig_ctte/submissions/sub28_attachment_8.pdf
(viewed 7 September 2009).
[35]
Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities, Third
Report 2009
, 2009, p 33. At http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/indig_ctte/reports/2009/report3/report.pdf
(viewed 3 December 2009).
[36]
Greg Marks, Submission 30, p. 6, cited in Senate Select Committee on
Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities, First Report (2008) par 4.49.
At http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/indig_ctte/reports/2008/report1/c04.ht
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[37]
Northern Territory Government, ‘Outstations Consultations to
Continue’ (Media Release, 2 December 2008). At http://newsroom.nt.gov.au/index.cfm?fuseaction=printRelease&ID=4854
(viewed 23 October 2009).
[38] S
Everingham, ‘Killing us softly: Dodson slams outstations plan’,
ABC News Online, 2 June 2009, http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/06/02/2587462.htm
(viewed 7 September 2009).
[39]
Northern Territory Government, Working Future: Fresh Ideas/ Real Results
– Headline Policy Statement (2009). At
http://www.workingfuture.nt.gov.au/download/Headline_Policy_Statement.pdf
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[40]
Northern Territory Government, Working Future: Fresh Ideas/ Real Results
– Headline Policy Statement (2009). At
http://www.workingfuture.nt.gov.au/download/Headline_Policy_Statement.pdf
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[41]
Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities, Third
Report
(2009), p 34. At http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/indig_ctte/reports/2009/report3/report.pdf
(viewed 3 December 2009).
[42]
The statutory office for the Coordinator General of Remote Services was
established in June 2009. The Commonwealth Government has committed $9 million
over four years to the creation of this office in its 2009-10 Budget. The
Coordinator General is responsible for the implementation of reforms in housing,
infrastructure and employment in remote Indigenous communities, and is to report
to the Commonwealth Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and
Indigenous Affairs.
[43] House of
Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Parliament of
Australia, Return to Country: The Aboriginal Homelands Movement in
Australia
(1987), p 55.
[44]
Australian Human Rights Commission, Submission to the Office of Indigenous
Policy Northern Territory Department of Chief Minister - Outstations Policy
Discussion Paper
(15 December 2008), par 11. At http://humanrights.gov.au/legal/submissions/sj_submissions/20081215_outstations.html#Heading64
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[45]
H Hughes, ‘The Economics of Indigenous Deprivation and Proposals for
Reform’, Issue Analysis No 63 (2005), p
1.
[46] Senate Select Committee
on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities, First Report (2008) par
4.49. At http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/indig_ctte/reports/2008/report1/c04.ht
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[47]
House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Parliament of
Australia, Return to Country: The Aboriginal Homelands Movement in
Australia
(1987), p 258.
[48]
House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Parliament of
Australia, Return to Country: The Aboriginal Homelands Movement in
Australia
(1987), p 259.
[49]
R Norton (Laynhapuy Homelands Association Incorporated), How Yolŋu
organisations are developing Indigenous creative partnerships in the top end

(Speech delivered at Key Forum for Garma 2009, Gulkula, 8 August 2009).
[50] Y Munungurr, Laynhapuy
Homelands Statement
, 22 March
2009.
[51] J Altman, In search
of an outstations policy for Indigenous Australians,
CAEPR Working Paper
34 (2006). At www.anu.edu.au/caepr/working.php
(viewed 17 September 2009); G Marks, Submission to the Senate Select
Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities Inquiry into the
Northern Territory Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities
(2008). At http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/Committee/indig_ctte/submissions/sub30.pdf
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[52] W Snowdon, Health,
Homelands and Creativity
(Speech delivered at Key Forum for Garma 2009,
Gulkula, 8 August 2009). At http://www.warrensnowdon.com/speeches/090808.htm
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[53]
Laynhapuy Homelands Association Incorporated, Background Information
Sheet
(2009), p 3.
[54] House
of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Parliament of
Australia, Return to Country: The Aboriginal Homelands Movement in
Australia
(1987), p 257.
[55]
Tjuwanpa Outstation Resource Centre Aboriginal Corporation is another example,
and their approach is outlined in Tjuwanpa Outstation Resource Centre Aboriginal
Corporation and A Kennedy, Southern Cross University, Desert Knowledge,
Submission to The Northern Territory Government Outstations Policy
(2008). At http://www.desertknowledgecrc.com.au/news/downloads/DKCRC_Tjuwanpa-outstations-submission.pdf
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[56]
Information for this case study was provided by Laynhapuy Homelands Association
Incorporated, in their background information sheet, and through discussions
with the Associations Board members in
2009.
[57] The member clans
include: Gupa Djapu, Dhudi Djapu, Rirratjingu, Gupapuyngu,
Dati’wuy, Ngaymil, Warramiri, Wangurri, Djambarrpuyngu, Gupa Gumatj,
Burrawanga, Gumatj, Yarrwidi, Gumatj, Wunungmurra, Dhalwangu,
Munyuku, Djarrwark, Madarrpa, Manggalili, Marrakulu, Golumala,
Marrangu.
[58] The 19 homelands
include: Barraratjpi, Barrkira, Bawaka, Bukudal, Buymarr, Dhalinbuy,
Dhuruputjpi, Djarrakpi, Galkila, Gangan, Garrthalala, Gurkaway, Gurrumuru,
Gutjangan, Rurrangala, Wandawuy, Yangunbi, Yiplara and Yudu Yudu. In 2008 the
Association extended support to a further eight homelands: Dondydji, Raymingirr,
Burrum, Yalakun, Balma, Baygurrtji, Mirrngatja and
Bunhanura.
[59] For details of
the secondary school at Garthalala, see the case study in Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Social Justice Report 2007
(2007). At http://humanrights.gov.au/social_justice/sj_report/sjreport07/index.html
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[60]
A list of the key research papers on the health benefits of living on homelands
are referred to in: Central Land Council, Briefing Paper: Keeping Homelands
Alive: Evidence that supports the continued resourcing of dispersed
settlements
(2009). At http://www.clc.org.au/Media/issues/Outstations_briefing_paper.pdf
(viewed 17 September 2009). See also C Ganesharaja Indigenous health and
wellbeing: The importance of
country, Native Title Research Report No
1/2009 (2009). At http://ntru.aiatsis.gov.au/publications/reports%20and%20other%20pdfs/
Indigenous%20Health%20and%20Wellbeing%20The%20Importance%20of%20Country.pdf

(viewed 17 September 2009).

[61] K Rowley, K
O’Dea, et. al., ‘Lower than expected morbidity and mortality for an
Australian Aboriginal population: 10-year follow-up in a decentralised
community’, Medical Journal of Australia (2008). At http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/188_05_030308/row10886_fm.html)
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[62]
R McDermott, K O'Dea, K Rowley, S Knight and P Burgess ‘Beneficial impact
of the
homelands movement on health outcomes in central Australian
aborigines’, Australian and
New Zealand Journal of Public
Health
, Vol 22(6) (1998) pp 653-8. At
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9848958?dopt=Abstract
(viewed 17 September 2009). See also K Rowley, K Gault, A McDermott et al,
‘Reduced Prevalence of Impaired Glucose Tolerance and no Change in
Prevalence of Diabetes Despite Increasing BMI among Aboriginal People from a
Group of Remote Homeland Communities’, Diabetes Care, Vol 23
(2000) pp 898–904.
[63] A
cross-sectional study of 298 Indigenous adults aged from an Arnhem Land
community in 2005 showed that greater Indigenous participation in caring for
country activities was associated with significantly better health. CP Burgess,
FH Johnston, DM Bowman, PJ Whitehead, ‘Healthy Country: Healthy People?
Exploring the health benefits of Indigenous Natural Resource Management’,
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Vol 29(2) (2005), pp
117-122. At http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/190_10_180509/bur11368_fm.html
(viewed 17 September 2009)
[64]
This case study was based on information gathered from Peggy Brown and Johnny
Miller during a visit to Mt Theo by Commission staff in May 2009. The term
‘outstation’ is used in this case study as this is the preferred
term used by the members of Mt
Theo.
[65] Australian for Native
Title and Reconciliation, ‘Putting the brakes on petrol sniffing (Mt
Theo-Yuendumu Substance Misuse Aboriginal Corporation, Northern
Territory)’, Success Stories in Indigenous Health: A showcase of
successful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health projects
(2007). At
http://www.antar.org.au/node/196
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[66] A Stojanovski, Mt Theo
Story – Tribal Elders Working with Petrol Sniffers
(1999). At http://www.mttheo.org/pdf/mt_theo_story.pdf
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[67]
P Brown, Mt Theo Outstation Co-Founder, Meeting at Mt Theo, 23 April
2009
[68] A Stojanovski, Mt
Theo Story – Tribal Elders Working with Petrol Sniffers
(1999). At http://www.mttheo.org/pdf/mt_theo_story.pdf
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[69]
A Stojanovski, Mt Theo Story – Tribal Elders Working with Petrol
Sniffers
(1999). At http://www.mttheo.org/pdf/mt_theo_story.pdf
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[70]
Australian for Native Title and Reconciliation, ‘Putting the brakes on
petrol sniffing (Mt Theo-Yuendumu Substance Misuse Aboriginal Corporation,
Northern Territory)’, Success Stories in Indigenous Health: A showcase
of successful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health projects
(2007).
At http://www.antar.org.au/node/196
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[71]
P Brown, Mt Theo Outstation Co-Founder, Meeting at Mt Theo, 23 April
2009
[72] P Brown, Mt Theo
Outstation Co-Founder, Meeting at Mt Theo, 23 April
2009
[73] A Vanstone, (Former
Minister for Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs), Indigenous
communities becoming ‘cultural museums’
, ABC Radio, AM Program
interview, 9 December 2005. At: http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2005/s1527233.htm
(viewed 17 December 2009)
[74]
See the case study of the Western Arnhem Land Fire Abatement Project in
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Native
Title Report 2007
(2007). At http://humanrights.gov.au/social_justice/nt_report/ntreport07/chapter12.html
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[75]
For a list of the research papers on the benefits of land management activities
undertaken on homelands see: Central Land Council, Briefing Paper: Keeping
Homelands Alive: Evidence that supports the continued resourcing of dispersed
settlements
(2009). At http://www.clc.org.au/Media/issues/Outstations_briefing_paper.pdf
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[76]
J Altman and P Whitehead Caring for country and sustainable indigenous
development: opportunities, constraints, and innovation
, CAEPR Working paper
No. 20/2003 (2003), p 4. At
http://www.anu.edu.au/caepr/Publications/WP/CAEPRWP20.pdf
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[77]
D Marawili
(Chair, Association of Northern, Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists
(ANKAAA)), Community, cultural and commercial benefits in Indigenous creative
industries – who benefits?
(Speech delivered at Key Forum for Garma
2009, Gulkula, 8 August
2009).
[78] J Altman, Managing
creative industries in a changing environment – has the Intervention
impacted on Indigenous creativity in the Northern Territory?
(Speech
delivered at Key Forum for Garma 2009, Gulkula, 8 August
2009).
[79] This information was
sourced from the ‘Arnhem Weavers’ website
(http://www.arnhemweavers.com.au/tours-2005.htm) and from discussions with
members of the Mapuru homeland community members (Roslyn Malngumba, Jackie
Ŋuluwidi, and Yingala Guyula) and John Greatorex of Charles Darwin
University in 2009.
[80] Roslyn
Malngumba, Meeting at Mapuru, 27 April 2009
[81]
‘Stepping Stones for
Tourism’ is a government initiative aimed to assist Indigenous people to
develop and manage tourism projects such as Arnhem Weavers (http://www.steppingstonesfortourism.net/what.php).
[82]
Roslyn Malngumba, Meeting at Mapuru, 27 April
2009
[83] Yingiya Guyula, Meeting
at Mapuru, 27 April 2009
[84]
Roslyn Malngumba, Meeting at Mapuru, 27 April
2009
[85] C Ganesharajah,
Indigenous health and wellbeing: The importance of country, Native
Title Research Report No 1/2009 (2009), p 17. At http://ntru.aiatsis.gov.au/publications/reports%20and%20other%20pdfs/
Indigenous%20Health%20and%20Wellbeing%20The%20Importance%20of%20Country.pdf

(viewed 17 September 2009).
[86]
C Ganesharajah, Indigenous health and wellbeing: The importance of
country, Native Title Research Report No 1/2009 (2009), p 1. At http://ntru.aiatsis.gov.au/publications/reports%20and%20other%20pdfs/
Indigenous%20Health%20and%20Wellbeing%20The%20Importance%20of%20Country.pdf

(viewed 17 September 2009). See similar documentation on WA homeland movements
in Tjuwanpa Outstation Resource Centre Aboriginal Corporation and A Kennedy,
Southern Cross University, Desert Knowledge, Submission to The Northern
Territory Government
Outstations Policy (2008). At http://www.desertknowledgecrc.com.au/news/downloads/DKCRC_Tjuwanpa-outstations-submission.pdf
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[87]
B Munungurr (Chair Laynhapuy Homeland Association), Managing creative
industries in a changing environment – has the Intervention impacted on
Indigenous creativity in the Northern Territory?
(Speech delivered at Key
Forum for Garma 2009, Gulkula, 8 August
2009).
[88] Australian Human
Rights Commission, Submission to the Office of Indigenous Policy Northern
Territory Department of Chief Minister - Outstations Policy Discussion Paper
(15 December 2008), par 30. At http://humanrights.gov.au/legal/submissions/sj_submissions/20081215_outstations.html#Heading64
(viewed 17 September 2009).

[89] The 26 sites consist of 15
locations in the Northern Territory, four locations in the Cape York and Gulf
regions of Queensland; three locations in Western Australia, two locations in
the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in South Australia; and
two remote locations in Western New South Wales. By December 2009, a further 3
communities had been included in the list of priority locations, amounting to a
total of 29 sites.
[90] COAG,
National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery (2008). At http://www.coag.gov.au/intergov_agreements/federal_financial_relations/docs/national_partnership/
national_partnership_on_remote_service_delivery_with_amended_schedule.rtf

(viewed 17 September 2009).
[91] The 20 growth towns are:
Maningrida, Wadeye, Borroloola, Galiwin’ku, Nguiu, Gunbalanya, Milingimbi,
Ngukurr, Numbulwar, Angurugu/Umbakumba, Gapuwiyak, Yuendumu, Yirrkala, Lajamanu,
Daguragu/Kalkarindji, Ramingining, Hermannsburg, Papunya, Elliott and Ali
Curung. While the Working Future policy refers to 20 growth towns, there
are in fact 22 communities named in the policy. The communities of Dagaragu and
Kalkarindji are referred to as one growth town, as are the communities of
Angurugu and Umbakumba. The 20 communities include the 15 Territory growth towns
identified for support under the COAG National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery as
well as 5 other communities. (Northern Territory Government, Working Future:
Territory Growth Towns
, http://www.workingfuture.nt.gov.au/growth_towns.html
(viewed 7 September 2009)).
[92]
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Emerging Themes -
National Inquiry into Rural and Remote Education (2000), pp 12-13. At: http://humanrights.gov.au/pdf/human_rights/rural_remote/emerging_themes.pdf
(viewed18 December 2008).
[93]
Australian Human Rights Commission, Submission to the Office of Indigenous
Policy Northern Territory Department of Chief Minister - Outstations Policy
Discussion Paper
(15 December 2008), pars 19, 25-28. At http://humanrights.gov.au/legal/submissions/sj_submissions/20081215_outstations.html#Heading64
(viewed 17 September 2009).
[94] B Mununggurr, Chairman of
Laynhapuy Homelands Association.

[95] Academy of the Social
Sciences in Australia and Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research,
Communique to the Prime Minister on Homelands/ Outstations (Paper to the
Forum on Homelands/ Outstations, Canberra, 27-28 October 2009). At http://online.anu.edu.au/caepr/Announces/anc09_12_01_760.php#attachments
(viewed 1 December 2009).
[96]
United Nations Development Group, Guidelines on Indigenous Peoples'
Issues
(2008) p 14. At
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/indigenous/docs/guidelines.pdf (viewed 17
September 2009).
[97] Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report
2007
(2007), p 241. At http://humanrights.gov.au/social_justice/sj_report/sjreport07/chap3.html#fnB66
(viewed 16 November 2009).
[98] Born in the 1930's,
Gawirrin Gumana is a leader of the Dhalwangu clan. He is one of the most senior
Yolŋu alive today and is renowned for his artwork and knowledge of
traditional culture and law. Gawirrin was a contributor to the Yirrkala church
panels that are a statement by clan groups regarding their equal authority with
the church and in 1992 he was ordained as a Minister of the Uniting Church. He
was a major litigant in the 2005 Federal Court Blue Mud Bay decision that
granted inter-tidal rights to traditional owners. Following the Aboriginal
Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976
, Gawirrin led his clan back to its
traditional country at Gangan, about 150 kilometres southwest of Nhulunbuy.
Gangan, with a population of around 80 people, has been acknowledged as one of
the notable success stories of the homelands movement.