'Tiwi people are for the first time in a position to own their own home, realising the ‘great Australian dream’ that the rest of Australia takes for granted.'
Walter Kerinaiua, Mantiyupwi Traditional Owner
Township Leases are negotiated between the Australian Government and the Traditional Owners in the Township represented by the respective Aboriginal Land Council and the Land Trust. Leases are signed by the Executive Director, Office of Township Leasing on behalf of the Australian Government and managed in accordance with the Executive Director’s statutory responsibilities and the terms and conditions set out in the Township Lease. Township Leases can encourage new businesses in communities, new jobs for local people, and home ownership.
On 30 August 2007, the Australian Government entered into the first Whole of Township Lease over Nguiu on the south-east corner of Bathurst Island. In 2010, the Township was renamed "Wurrumiyanga", meaning "the place where the cycads grow" in Tiwi. The parties to the 99-year Township Lease are the Tiwi Aboriginal Land Trust, the Tiwi Land Council and the Executive Director, Office of Township Leasing.
The second Township Lease on the Tiwi Islands is over the communities of Milikapiti on Melville Island, and Wurankuwu on the western side of Bathurst Island. The 99-year lease was signed on 22 November 2011. The Milikapiti and Wurankuwu Township Lease covers the existing communities’ footprints as well as some vacant land to accommodate new development. Although the two communities are located on separate islands, Traditional Owners agreed to a single Township Lease because of the strong historical and Traditional Owner affiliations across the two communities. However, under the Township Lease each community has established its own local Consultative Forum. On 26 June 2017, the third 99-year Township Lease was signed for Pirlangimpi on Melville Island.