In 2007, as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response, better known as the Intervention, the Commonwealth compulsorily acquired five-year leases over 21 communities on Aboriginal land and 10 community living areas in our region.  It finally agreed to pay fair rent for these leases.

In 2012 our council resolved that at least half of the rent to the communities be used to plan and implement community benefit initiatives, while community living area residents decided to use their lease rent exclusively this way.

We set up working groups in 31 communities and helped them to prioritise, plan and allocate funds for 390 initiatives between 2012 and 2022, investing a total of $19.8 million.

Initiatives range from the small, one-off to large multi-year efforts. Education, sport, school excursion and early childhood support help young people, while art centres, churches, cemetery upgrades and cultural maintenance measures particularly benefit the old.

Peter Corbett and Derek Walker from the ‘highly commended’ Alekarenge working group at the 2018 Indigenous Governance Award. Photo: Jillian Mundy.

The lease money working group in Alekarenge was highly commended in the non-incorporated category of the 2018 Indigenous Governance Awards. The commendation recognised the group’s $1 million investment in community-driven, youth-focused initiatives such as media, driver training, school holiday programs and sports facility upgrades.

“Good stories can be told of our efforts in remote Australia. We address problems and get on with the job of finding solutions for our community, because doing the right thing is never wrong,” said Derek Walker, from the Alekarenge lease money working group. Watch the video.