ABORIGINAL families who have been denied home ownership have begun buying homes on Aboriginal land in a remote Northern Territory community.Standing outside his modest house in Nguiu, a community on the Tiwi islands north of Darwin, Luke Tipuamantumirri says he is the proud owner of his first mortgage.”Owning your own place makes you responsible – I set the rules here and Florine enforces them,” he says, referring to his wife.Mr Tipuamantumirri says his job as a corrections officer with the NT Department of Justice pays him a good wage that allows him to repay a loan.”Many other Aboriginal people will see they are better off buying a home they can be proud of,” he says.So far 10 Aboriginal families have either bought an existing home or are building a new one in the community where traditional owners were first in the territory to sign a township lease under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Land Rights Act. They are the first families to own their own homes on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory.The 99-year lease allows families to borrow money to buy houses on Aboriginal land through a program managed by Indigenous Business Australia. The federal Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin, said yesterday she believed home ownership was set to take off in other remote communities, including on Groote Eylandt, where traditional owners have agreed to an 80-year township lease.Sixty other people in Nguiu have discussed home ownership and 14 loans totalling $2.4 million have been approved.John Baptist Kelantumama, 57, said he is planning to eventually buy the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house – built in Nguiu under the strategic indigenous housing and infrastructure program – that he and his family will move into within days.For 30 years Mr Kelantumama has lived in a ramshackle four-bedroom house with up to six adults and 25 children.”I want a place I can be proud to own and where I can say who comes and who goes,” he said.
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