Housing mess as community fights land council over lease



p2370-amoonguna-damage-5By ERWIN CHLANDA

The 57 houses for the 275 people of Amoonguna, some 20 km south-east of Alice Springs, have been deteriorating since 2008 under the management of Territory and local governments.
Now the community has formed a company with the traditional land owners as the shareholders which is seeking a 99 year lease, but the Central Land Council (CLC) is trying to block the move.
A spokeswoman for the CLC says it “continues to consult with the traditional owners and residents of Amoonguna and is acting on their instructions”.
Senior community development officer Marie Ellis says Imwearnkwernhe Community Ltd (ICL) wants to revive the home construction and maintenance company which built the last 11 houses and employed six locals.
It was doing all the work except the jobs which by law have to be done by specialist tradesmen, such as electrical work, but it was shut down by the MacDonnell Shire soon after it took over the community in 2008.
ICL would also like to take the store back, which is presently run by the MacDonnell Regional Council (the re-organised shire) for limited hours.
Ms Ellis says communications with the council are inconclusive because the leases issue is unresolved.
Literacy and numeracy course run by the Charles Darwin University are also on the agenda of the company.
Ms Ellis says ICL will not take over functions that the MacDonnell Regional Council is funded to carry out: A car was recently burned and a house nearly lost when a blaze got out of control because the council had failed to put in adequate firebreaks.
Some houses did not have water and were running hoses to their neighbours. Other dwellings had no electricity and were running extension leads to the neighbours. This has been fixed by an arrangement ICL made with a contractor.
p2370-amoonguna-damage-2Rooftop air conditioners had pads caked in calcium, pumps had seized and fan motors failed, while spilled water had rusted the surrounding roof iron, causing holes and ceiling collapses, says Ms Ellis.
A work for the dole scheme was no substitute for the former well-run building company which was shut down by the shire in 2009.
The scheme, run by Tangentyere, consisted of approving government payments for such jobs as people cleaning their own yards.
“Looking at the community it’s not working,” says Ms Ellis.
Ms Ellis says although the ICL directors are the traditional owners of the land, the CLC will not issue the long-term lease to the company, and instead is proposing to issue 12 year leases, able to be extended to 36 years, to PowerWater, Congress and the departments of health and education.
The CLC, making anthropological investigations, is apparently seeking to cast doubt on the identities of the traditional owners, says Ms Ellis.
She says once it has the head lease, ICL would arrange for sub-leases in its own right and would collect the lease payments, around $100,000 a year, to be distributed to the landowners.
However, a housing service fee to be collected from the tenants, would go into a fund for repairs and maintenance.
“The CLC is not listening to the land owners,” says Ms Ellis. “They are not talking to the traditional owners.”
She says the land council is also holding about $1.6m which had been allocated to Ammoonguna under the Intervention.
Instead of using the money for community purposes, as intended, the CLC was doling it out to individuals.
p2370-amoonguna-damage-1Between 2008 and now the responsibilities for housing and maintenance had gone backwards and forwards between the MacDonnell Shire, which is now called the regional council, and Territory Housing.
Because no maintenance was being down people were not paying rent and in retaliation Territory Housing was not doing maintenance work.
This deadlock is continuing except “ICL has taken over some of the R&M to make the houses safe,” says Ms Ellis.
PHOTOS from top: Resident despairing over neglect torched his home last year • Collapsed ceiling • Work for the dole yard cleaning – not a roaring success • holes in rusted roof.


  1. Its a sad day when you have to be paid to clean up your own back yard. Apparently you need to be paid to have pride.

  2. Werte Steve Dean, I totally agree with your comment.
    It is very sad indeed Steve Dean.
    The service providers don’t give their participants more productive and self esteem work to do. Whatever happened to learning?
    It has been too easy for too long since the 2007 Intervention and when given a choice whether to work or not is complicated beyond their joke.

  3. What about the neighbours of Amoonguna at “Amoonguna farm”?
    They don’t even have blood lineage to that land and they are claiming to be TOs.
    What are they doing to help out their “families” at Amoonguna?

  4. Good morning, my niece.
    Reading your story the people on Northern Arunta Land Burt Plain are having the same problems for the last five years since Les and I were asked to find out why and where the government money is gone.
    We have documents from Department of Local Government and Community Services which comes under Ingerreke and not doing the work on housing.
    On these documents are other service providers for other communities all over the Territory – same problem.
    I was up at Kalkarintji and you were there when I tried to question Adam Giles and was stopped by the two CEOs of the land councils.
    As we saw the whole of the Aboriginal people are suffering and complaining for the so called providers for house repairs and maintenance are not doing their work.
    I ask again WHERE IS THE MONEY GOING. Documents dated back to 2012.
    On these documents Harry Creek West and Harry Creek South are not listed but Ingerreke was spending big money to upgrade the power system. Nepotism?
    And there are some places they claim and people do not live there anymore.
    # 1: Provide a strong voice.
    # 2: Get back country.
    # 3: Manage Land.
    # 4: Protecting Aboriginal Culture.
    # 5: Assisting Economic Projects.
    # 6: Promoting Community Development.
    # 7: Fighting for legal recognition of Aboriginal Legal Rights.
    # 8: Help resolving land disputes, so why did we yesterday get trespass notices and called squatters by people who do not belong to this land.
    Central Land Council held another illegal executive meeting on October 19 NO.EX2016.07 to have us removed and we were not invited to defend ourselves.
    Illegal! Why you ask – because Michael Liddle does not live on Yawutta Country.
    He lives in Alice and Ngala Kunoth Monks, nominated by three people on Mbantua and not the nine directors of LHERE ARTEPE for the others from Untulye and Ilpme have trespass notices on their heads not to enter their own office.
    You directors have got to put things to paper and not sit back and let other people do your work. STAND UP AND BE COUNTED.

  5. To the woman or bloke ANGKENTYE AKURNE ANTHURRRE who knew the story of my grandfather Billy Bray and my great-grandmother Nellie Ararka: We would like you to come and stand up in front of Bob Gosford when we organise a meeting and I will pick you up on the day.
    M.K. and Leoni Palmer will be with us. Your remarks were made when I and Michael Liddle were having words. Would love to meet you. PLEASE RING ME 0419 633283.

    # 1: Provide a strong voice.
    ICL is the strong voice for Country. Apmereke Artweye-mape. CLC does not fully understand the concept of Law of the Land and its Altyerre. WE ARE STRONG AND EDUCATED, CLC ASSUMES WE ARE ILLITERATE.
    # 2: Get back country.
    We are home, and we are trying to fix what was broken for seven years of neglect. CLC was drip feeding our community with our funds from the Intervention 2007/2008.
    # 3: Manage Land.
    We have been managing our community, however we have been ignored from the start and denied funding to fix our housing and to create jobs.
    # 4: Protecting Aboriginal Culture.
    We are trying to protect our community lifestyle and our way of life.
    # 5: Assisting Economic Projects.
    We are capable of developing our own economical projects in regards to create employment for the Community people. We are not incompetent, we are educated individuals who can make it work for the community as a whole.
    # 6: Promoting Community Development.
    ICL has already put in place our community development ideas to create employment and training, we are being ignored, as the CLC wants to RE-EDUCATE us in how to spend our community funds. CLC talk in a manner of teaching five year old kids in pre-school, that is how my families are being treated and educated in how to spend our community funding.
    # 7: Fighting for legal recognition of Aboriginal Legal Rights.
    We have had our day in court for that seven years without help and guidance from CLC. CLC only spoke about supporting us, but did not move forward to do so.
    # 8: Help resolving land disputes.
    This has never been resolved and is ongoing.

  7. There are legal responsibilities under the Commonwealth’s Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 [ALRNT].
    The Amoonguna Aboriginal Land Trust appears to be the rightful owner of the land, with authority and responsibility for the land and all activities occurring upon the land – except where responsibility has been transferred under lease, or in accordance with Commonwealth’s ALRNT.
    The Amoonguna Aboriginal Land Trust needs under ALRNT provide its instructions concerning leases to the Central Land Council (CLC) who then provides directions, thus leases.
    Amoonguna community requires reasonable duration leases for security of tenure to be able to manage their own community.
    Without such leases Amoonguna ALT community residents need to file suit against Amoonguna ALT and the CLC (property agent) for their failure to maintain their housing to basic acceptable standards, and for their refusal to issue reasonable leases.
    The CLC and Land Trusts regularly refuse to issue reasonable leases so as to avoid their accepting responsibility, with refusal to transfer any responsibility, so as to maintain tyrannical, abusive and extortionate authority over all residents.

  8. Amoonguna had a history of commercial activity but various interventions over the years and the shires coming and in a some cases taking over property and equipment mistakenly / illegally plus land councils wanting to extend the people’s dependency on them to retain LC’s power have not done the people any good.
    The amount of public moneys expended on this sector of the population appears to be like summer rain in the desert, it can be seen falling but has difficulty reaching the ground.

  9. Werte Mabel,
    You are so quick to criticise Amoonguna Community and the people within. What have these mob done to you, for you to be so bitter with hate?
    Trash talking about my cousins as they are the script writers and directors.
    Here are other two comments that you made about Amoonguna.
    Story Title: Everyday realities dosed with humour and hope: TV series
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 3:34 pm
    What about the rock throwing? That’s an aboriginal problem too.
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 6:06 pm
    Penance, hello, ring ring, wake up and smell the roses. Every Aboriginal community has problems with rock throwing.
    The director touches everything else regarding problems and Aboriginal life on a community, he comes from one. Give me an example where it doesn’t happen. Also explain why this shouldn’t have been in the script.

  10. Central Land Council have been manipulating and dividing my families in order to conquer their own greed for power and lust for money.
    Promising my families wealth to purchase vehicles of their dreams.
    We have the right as Apmereke Artweye to take our own lease over our land under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976.
    We had applied for the Lease over Amoonguna Community since 2003/2004 and later in 2013, as we were told that our application is still sitting on their desk.
    We are moving towards self determination, self government of the community which we will be capable of looking after.
    This we have proven for 13 years before the inception of the Shires. The community people deserve a fair go when it comes to jobs.
    Seven years of neglect to the housing our company, ICL, have fixed in seven months, the plumbing, electrical, air conditioners and replaced old stoves in the 57 houses.
    We were even denied the use of the community dump to dispose of the old stoves.
    MacDonnell Shire at Amoonguna are denying ICL and any person who has contact with them are not allowed to use any facility on the community, because apparently it belongs to them.

  11. MacDonnell Regional Council also has a mini store at the Amoonguna MacDonnell Shire Office. This store has food items that are priced too high – double or triple the price of supermarkets in Alice Springs.
    Before the take over in 2008, the store was run by the ACI and was opened all day until 4:30pm and also on the weekend on Saturdays.
    Now, it closes it’s door whenever it feels like. The prices were indeed affordable for the community people to afford.
    Amoonguna Community is situated 20 minutes’ drive from the town of Alice Springs.
    MacDonnell Regional Council … or whatever they call themselves nowadays, have a lot to answer for their actions and yet, Central Land Council issued them lease on Amoonguna Land Trust to treat the people, the community residents with insults.


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