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 Home Ownership Project

Home Ownership Study in Queensland Aboriginal Communities

Principal AERC Staff:
Mark Moran, Assoc. Prof. Paul Memmott, Rachael Stacy, Stephen Long [Refer to the Staff Profile page of this website] and John Holt from the Qld Department of Housing Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Housing Sector.

Background to This Project
The Aboriginal Environments Research Centre was commissioned to conduct consultation and a survey in four Queensland communities (Palm Island, Cherbourg, Kowanyama and Lockhart River) on Community Title Land. The commission agencies were the Aboriginal Co-ordinating Council (ACC) and the Department of Housing (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Sector).

If home ownership on community title land becomes an option, it will profoundly alter the economic and social fabric of community settlements in Queensland, and perhaps Australia. Despite the many calls for home ownership, from remote outstation groups to peak representative bodies like the ACC, there are as many calls for caution. Past attempts at home ownership through the "Katter" leases in places such as Kowanyama proved to be ill-conceived and poorly implemented. The complexity surrounding the issues is undeniable and must be approached with care and rigour. Community aspirations for home ownership are a strong expression of economic self-determination, which deserve support, but people must not be set up to fail.

For some years the full Council of the ACC has been passing resolutions to ensure that home ownership is a practical reality on Deed-of-Grant-in-Trust (DOGIT) Land. In response to this and with a small grant from ATSIC, the ACC engaged Mark Moran (refer 'AERC Postgraduate Students') in 1999 to undertake a Scoping Study.

A copy of the Scoping Study can be downloaded from The Scoping Study described the complexity associated with home ownership on community title lands and recommended that a six-step process be undertaken.

In parallel to the ACC initiative, ATSI Housing (of Queensland Department of Housing) began development of a home loan product for DOGIT land. This was initiated "in-house" largely through the Home Purchase Assistance (HPA) area of the Queensland Department of Housing. At the stakeholder meeting held in Cairns in March 2000, ATSI Housing explained that HPA required a round of community consultation before they could design an appropriate model. The HPA would have a design framework, which could then be adopted to select the most appropriate model.

Given the obvious overlap between the ACC and the ATSI Housing Initiatives, it wasagreed that the ACC and ATSI Housing could collaborate to undertake a round of preliminary consultation.

ATSI Housing subsequently awarded the ACC a small grant to undertake the field survey. The ACC in turn engaged the Aboriginal Environments Research Centre of the University of Queensland (AERC) to undertake the consultation. There were no terms of reference for the consultancy. Rather, the ACC and AERC were bound to complete a survey instrument which is given in the report's Appendix I. There are three stated aims in the survey documents:

* To familiarise with interested householder's understanding of home ownership principles and values, and their expectations of what a scheme would be like.
* Identify any culturally-specific or community-specific factors that could shape or limit the nature of any proposed community-based home ownership scheme.
* Increase the ACC understanding of what impacts a home ownership scheme would have on households and councils, so as to contribute to a Feasibility Study.

Ramon Davis from the ACC made arrangements for the community visits. The survey was conducted by two researchers from AERC and a Departmental Officer from ATSI Housing: Rachael Stacy (Palm Island and Cherbourg), Stephen Long (Kowanyama and Palm Island), and John Holt from ATSI Housing (all four communities). Mark Moran analysed the data and drafted the report. The project was co-ordinated and overseen by Assoc. Prof. Paul Memmott.
A paper describing this project and its outcomes was read at the 'National Housing Conference 2001,' which was held in Brisbane in late October of that year. A draft copy of this paper can be accessed through Pandora web archiving system under the heading 'National Housing Conference 2001 - Conference Papers'.

Another version of this paper was published in the journal Urban Policy and Research during 2002. Copies are available from the AERC office for a minimal fee. Refer to the Catalogue - Purchase section of this website for more details.