Aboriginal land and permits

Aboriginal land leases

There are three types of land lease arrangements for Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory (NT).

These are:

  • infrastructure leases
  • remote community housing leases
  • whole of township leases.

Infrastructure leases

These long-term infrastructure leases are negotiated for all government facilities.

They include schools, health centres, police stations, training centres, power stations and housing for government employees.

Remote community housing leases

This lease helps the NT and Australian governments to maintain and build new housing in remote communities.

A community can agree to lease all existing and new community housing lots for a minimum of 40 years.

You can get more information on the joint NT and Australian Government remote housing programs at the Territory Families, Housing and Communities website.

Whole of township leases

These are long term leases that are held and administered by an independent statutory office holder on behalf of the Australian Government.

A head lease is held over an entire township and areas for future development.

These can be for a minimum of 40 years and a maximum of 99 years and help with the management and maintenance of government and community facilities such as schools, police stations and health centres.

The terms of the lease are negotiated between the government and the Traditional Owners with the help of land councils.

Once the township leases are in place, the NT Government will negotiate further subleases over areas of land with existing government facilities.

How leases are negotiated

Leases for infrastructure, housing and future development on Aboriginal land are negotiated and coordinated by the NT Government's Land Tenure Unit.

The unit is part of the Department of Housing and Community Development. It works closely with Traditional Owners, land councils and other NT and Australian Government agencies.

The unit also set up land administration systems which include planning, valuations and long-term leasing agreements.

These leasing arrangements also provide some security for private companies wanting to establish businesses in remote communities.

Private companies liaise directly with the relevant land councils to complete leasing arrangements.


Land Tenure Unit
Department of Housing and Community Development
GPO Box 4621
Darwin NT 0801
Phone: (08) 8999 1913

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Last updated: 03 March 2017

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