The Mantiyupwi Traditional Owners are seeing their township lease pay off, with their first payment of rent from the township lease made to them in June 2017, and with rent now to be paid to them annually.
In late 2016 the Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA) was repaid the last of the $5,000,000 advance payment (subsequently reduced to $4,400,000) made under the Wurrumiyanga township lease in 2007.
Under the terms of the lease, the Executive Director had fifteen years to recoup the advance payment; however it was recouped in less than ten years. Some believed it would not be repaid at all.
According to the township lease terms, the Mantiyuwi Traditional Owners would start receiving rent once the advance payment was recouped by the ABA. The first payment of rent following the repayment was made to the Mantiyupwi Traditional Owners was celebrated at a public ceremony in Wurrumiyanga on 26 June 2017. The ceremony was attended by hundreds of Traditional Owners and community members, along with the Hon Nigel Scullion, Minister for Indigenous Affairs.
The regular income stream from rent can be invested by the Mantiyupwi in local enterprises or further income-generating activities on or off the Tiwi islands. A consistent income stream can also be used to secure loans to underpin ongoing economic activity, business expansion and employment. This will over time lead not merely to greater economic opportunity and employment on the Tiwi Islands, but real economic independence for Tiwi people.