Australian Government – Office of Township Leasing

Five-Year Leases on Aboriginal Land

About the Five-Year Leases

The Australian Government (through the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) currently holds five-year leases over 64 Northern Territory communities. The five-year lease system enables the Australian Government to provide prompt access for the delivery of services, the repair of buildings and the development of infrastructure in communities as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER). Five year leases are held and administered by the Australian Government in its own right, and not by the EDTL.

The lease areas were originally set using aerial photographic maps. A ground-based survey project later enabled a closer match of the lease boundary with the town footprint. This reduced the overall five-year leased area by approximately 50 per cent from 1 April 2009 by leaving out areas deemed to be not essential for service delivery.
The Five-Year Leased Communities poster shows the locations and land type of the 64 five-year leased communities.
Five-year leases do not change the underlying title of the land. At the expiration of the five-year lease period on 17 August 2012 land and infrastructure not subject to a longer term lease will revert back to the land owners.
In response to the NTER Review Board’s recommendation that rent be paid to the Aboriginal owners of five-year leased land, the Australian Government requested that the Northern Territory Valuer-General make a determination as to the amount of rent to be paid. Rent payments have commenced.

Seeking Australian Government Approval to Use Land in Five-Year Leased Communities

Everyone must seek approval to use land within five-year leased communities for purposes such as:

  • constructing new buildings
  • expanding existing buildings
  • demolishing buildings
  • changing who occupies a building (including evictions)
  • changing who is responsible for buildings.
As the department responsible for the five-year leases, the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) manages the approval of new and changed uses of land and buildings.
Australian Government approval to use five-year leased land can be requested by emailing Please note that as there are a number of steps in the consideration process, requests should be submitted as early as possible.
The factsheet Five-Year Leases on Aboriginal Land outlines the land use request process and answers some frequently asked questions.
All uses of land, especially those affecting landscapes which can be sacred to Aboriginal people, must be undertaken in a culturally sensitive manner consistent with the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act. More information about this legislation is available on the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority website.

Seeking a Lease from the Land Owner

Land use approval is not a secure lease and does not grant ownership to the approved party.

At the expiration of the five-year leases on 17 August 2012, land and infrastructure not subject to a voluntary long term lease will revert back to the land owners. The Australian and Northern Territory Governments have a policy of transitioning five-year leases to longer term leasing arrangements. Land users are encouraged to investigate the benefits of negotiating a voluntary long term lease with the traditional owners or community organisations through the relevant land council or community living area representative.
While a five-year lease is in place, longer term leases over Aboriginal land must be approved by the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Once the Minister’s approval is obtained the area of these longer term leases is automatically excluded from the area of the Commonwealth’s five-year lease.
If the owner of a five-year leased Community Living Area issues a lease to another party, this lease will not take effect until the Commonwealth’s five-year lease expires or the leased area is excluded from the area of the Commonwealth’s five-year lease. Requests to exclude leased community living area land from the area of a five-year lease should be sent to the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
The factsheet Leases on Aboriginal Land in the Northern Territory outlines longer term leasing options.
Further information about longer term leasing arrangements may be obtained by emailing

List of Five-Year Leased Communities

The name, land type and relevant land council of the 64 five-year leased communities are detailed below.

Five-Year Leases
Commenced 18 August 2007 Commenced 17 February 2008
Name Land Type Land Council Name Land Type Land Council
Ali Curung ALRA CLC Acacia Larrakia ALRA NLC
Alpurrurulam CLA CLC Amanbidji ALRA NLC
Amoonguna ALRA CLC Barunga ALRA NLC
Ampilatwatja ALRA CLC Belyuen ALRA NLC
Areyonga ALRA CLC Beswick ALRA NLC
Atitjere CLA CLC Binjari CLA NLC
Daguragu ALRA CLC Bulla CLA NLC
Gapuwiyak ALRA NLC Bulman ALRA NLC
Gunbalanya ALRA NLC Canteen Creek MISC CLC
Gunyangara ALRA NLC Engawala CLA CLC
Hermannsburg ALRA CLC Galiwinku ALRA NLC
Kaltukatjara ALRA CLC Haasts Bluff ALRA CLC
Kintore ALRA CLC Imangara CLA CLC
Minyerri CLA NLC Imanpa CLA CLC
Ngukurr ALRA NLC Jilkminggan CLA NLC
Nyirripi ALRA CLC Lajamanu ALRA CLC
Papunya ALRA CLC Laramba CLA CLC
Pmara Jutunta ALRA CLC Maningrida ALRA NLC
Ramingining ALRA NLC Manyallaluk ALRA NLC
Santa Teresa ALRA CLC Milikapiti ALRA TLC
Titjikala CLA CLC Milingimbi ALRA NLC
Wallace Rockhole ALRA CLC Minjilang ALRA NLC
Wutunugurra CLA CLC Mt Liebig ALRA CLC
Yirrkala ALRA NLC Nturiya ALRA CLC
Yuendumu ALRA CLC Numbulwar ALRA NLC
Yarralin CLA NLC Palumpa ALRA NLC
  Peppimenarti ALRA NLC
Pigeon Hole ALRA NLC
Pirlangimpi ALRA TLC
Rittarangu CLA NLC
Robinson River ALRA NLC
Warruwi ALRA NLC
Willowra ALRA CLC
Wilora CLA CLC
Yuelamu ALRA CLC
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N.B. All 5 year leases will expire on 17 August 2012 regardless of the date of commencement.

Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976
Community Living Area
Miscellaneous (NT crown land subject to ALRA claim)
Northern Land Council
Central Land Council
Tiwi Land Council
Anindilyakwa Land Council