This paper argues that 'social' housing has failed and private home ownership must be an immediate priority on Indigenous lands; to help kick start home ownership tenants should be offered ownership of their homes at no cost.

Almost 20% of Australia and almost 50% of the Northern Territory are Indigenous lands. Yet Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders cannot build their own houses on them. Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders living on their lands have the lowest living standards in Australia. They cannot access the benefits of the land they own. Existing territory, state and federal government legislation and programs to introduce private housing and business are seriously flawed. The governments’ own data confirm that despite the billions they are spending on ‘social’ housing, when these programs are completed housing on Indigenous lands will remain sub-standard and overcrowded.

The conclusions that follow have two objectives: to reinforce and maintain traditional landowners’ communal land rights, and to introduce individual private property rights so that Indigenous homeownership and business can develop immediately and rapidly. A million dollars spent supporting private housing would save billions of ‘social’ housing expenditure.

Welfare dependence can only be ended with a mainstream economy based on a mix of public facilities and private property. Giving existing ‘social’ housing tenants the option to take ownership - at no cost - of the homes they live in would kick start private property rights. It should be accompanied by the immediate construction of private houses.

Bipartisan political support and government bureaucracies should move away from focusing on ‘social’ housing to supporting private housing and business. A lifetime of government encouraged dependence has left Indigenous communities and individuals waiting for someone else to act. But Indigenous communities can and should make the decisions necessary to enable their people to build private houses and start businesses.

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