New law allows indigenous land to be turned to freehold

FAMILIES living in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will soon be able to own their own homes as a result of Queensland Government legislation passed this week.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land (Providing Freehold) Act 2014 will allow 34 communities that own their land communally to convert to ordinary freehold land ownership instead.

Natural Resources Minister Andrew Cripps said on Friday many Indigenous communities had had communal land tenures since the 19th century - depriving residents of the benefits of private home ownership.

"This Act is an important milestone for Indigenous people and is a proud moment for myself and for all Queenslanders," he said.

"The Act provides the single most significant opportunity the State Government could grant to Indigenous Queenslanders, the opportunity to own their own home, in freehold, in their own community.

"It recognises both the important and enduring cultural connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with their land and their individual right to own a home on that land."

Mr Cripps said the Act did not force freehold on Indigenous communities, but provided a mechanism for those communities that wanted freehold to deliver it.

He said the freehold model's flexibility takes into account the unique features of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the potential issues associated with introducing ordinary freehold title - APN Newsdesk.