Land Reform and Home Ownership

Land reform and home ownership is critical to Indigenous landholders, and essential to the economic and social wellbeing of families.

The challenge:

  • HomeOwnershipHome ownership in Cape York Indigenous towns remains at zero
  • Indigenous Cape York families remain trapped in welfare housing
  • Welfare housing is a significant contributor to the welfare pedestal, passivity and the collapse of social norms
  • Cape York Welfare Reform has had some success in generating responsibility and pride in the family home through budgeting, tenancy reforms and Pride of Place
  • We have begun the task of building capability for home ownership, but land reform is desperately needed

Land Reform and Home Ownership under Cape York Welfare Reform


Families make a financial contribution and provide sweat equity, working with the PoP team to build their backyard project

The Cape York reform agenda outlined in Cape York Institute’s landmark From Hand Out to Hand Up (2007) highlighted why reforms were needed as a matter of priority to shift Cape York communities away from the social housing welfare model that promotes dependency and passivity.

The Cape York Institute proposed to move people to a system based more closely on mainstream property markets and individual home ownership, with social housing catering for exceptional circumstances. Our O-Hub operates the Pride of Place (PoP) programme designed to improve living standards, build home pride and aspiration for home ownership.

The Queensland and Federal Governments agreed that home ownership was one of four key outcomes sought under the Cape York Welfare Reform trial in Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale, and Mossman Gorge.

Released in 2013, the independent evaluation of the Cape York Welfare Reform trial found there was a clear lack of home ownership results in the four communities. Disappointingly, throughout the trial government efforts continued to focus on the delivery of welfare through social housing. Remedying this remains an outstanding priority.