Frequently asked questions
What is a town camp?
The origin of the 43 Northern Territory town camps vary from location to location however town camps are primarily areas set aside where Aboriginal people live in and around towns and cities. In some areas the town camps were established in the 1970’s and 80’s to provide a place where Aboriginal people visiting from remote areas could stay for short periods. Over time some people have made the town camp their permanent home and have lived there for over a decade.
Are town camps public housing?
In Alice Springs and Tennant Creek the houses in the 25 town camps come under regularised public housing arrangements with the Department of Local Government, Housing and Community Development. In the other town camps there is no public housing arrangements and the landowner or lease holder has responsibility for the assets on that land. Government provide a financial contribution to assist with repairs and maintenance with residents and service providers also contributing to the upkeep of town camps.
Where are the town camps located?
There are 43 town camps in the Northern Territory. They are located in Darwin, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Adelaide River, Pine Creek, Katherine, Elliott, Mataranka and Borroloola.
Why was this review undertaken?
Town camps have over time been subject to various levels of involvement and investment by government. Previous reports and inquiries have identified systemic failings with the governance and administration of some town camps. A Parliamentary Committee Report (May 2016) titled ‘Report on Repairs and Maintenance of Housing on Town Camps’ provided findings and recommendations to provide an efficient and effective public housing service to Aboriginal people living in town camps.
The Northern Territory Government commissioned this independent comprehensive review of town camps to provide an evidence base in which to develop long-term strategies to improve living conditions and service delivery in town camps. A review of this magnitude has not previously been undertaken.
Were the recomendations of the 2016 report adopted?
Most of the report recommendations from 2016 have been acted upon with new policies and operational arrangements in place as a result. Some recommendations will be further informed by the content of the Northern Territory Town Camps Review.
In recent years more than $116 million has been invested in town camps specifically in Alice Springs where in some cases extensive works have been undertaken.
The government continues to provide funding for repairs and maintenance to town camps in the Northern Territory which are not under public housing arrangements.
Who conducted this review and at what cost?
Following a competitive tender process Deloitte Touche Tomatsu (Deloitte) was awarded the tender in October 2016. The value of the consultancy was $2.37 million.
What was the scope of the review?
All 43 town camps were included in the review. The town camps are dispersed at a number of locations throughout the Northern Territory in urban and remote areas.
Inspections were undertaken, and reports compiled, for over 700 houses. Inspections were also undertaken on electrical, water and sewerage infrastructure in the town camps.
Roads, drainage and social infrastructure (such as playgrounds and open spaces) were inspected and included in the report.
Undertaking the review was a complex task which involved a number of specialist teams visiting each and every town camp.
Residents were also asked to contribute their views on their town camp and where they saw the town camp into the future. Multiple visits to town camps were made to ensure residents had the opportunity to have their say.
Deloitte were asked to examine and report to government on the following areas in each of the 43 town camps:
- legislation and governance arrangements;
- leasing and tenure arrangements;
- housing quality, management and ownership;
- municipal and essential infrastructure;
- service delivery arrangements;
- community aspirations;
- potential economic development opportunities.
The town camps report provides Deloitte’s assessment and recommendations on each of these focus areas.
Which government departments will this involve?
The Department of Local Government, Housing and Community Development is the lead agency in this review, however will be partnering with other agencies, in addressing the report recommendations. Partnering agencies include:
- Office of Aboriginal Affairs, Department of Chief Minister
- Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics
- Department of Health
- Department of Education
- Territory Families
- Department of Attorney General and Justice
- Department of Trade, Business and Innovation
- The Australian Government
How will communities be engaged on the future model for town camps?
Through the Northern Territory Local Decision Making agenda, the Northern Territory Government recognises the importance of Aboriginal communities and town camp residents being empowered to make choices about service delivery, repairs and maintenance priorities, and economic development opportunities. This will be achieved through governance and capacity-building of community leaders; clearly defined rules, regulatory frameworks, roles and responsibilities; and a cohesive reform pathway developed in consultation with residents, and all stakeholders.
What funding is available to address the concerns highlighted in the report?
While further work is required to understand the scale and applicability of the proposed works, the estimated costs are significant.
$24 million has been immediately allocated to undertake some of the urgent work required to housing and other infrastructure to address health and safety issues.
The Department of Local Government, Housing and Community Development is working with existing town camp service providers to identify priority repairs and maintenance works for housing and to identify other infrastructure that is in need of prioritised upgrades.
Service providers have long term existing relationships with town camp residents and are well placed to advise on place based needs.
Funding will be allocated across the town camps identified with the highest need. This funding will only address some of the urgent works.
Where possible, houses will be improved in line with the intent of the Residential Tenancy Act requirements.
Infrastructure works will include: road repairs, sewerage upgrades, electrical upgrades, water line upgrades, fencing, community safety works.
What are the next steps?
The Northern Territory Government will establish the Town Camps Futures Unit by 1 July 2018.
The work unit will review all elements of the Town Camps Review and, working with town camps residents and landowners, will develop a comprehensive approach across all of the key elements identified in the Review.
The Town Camps Futures Unit will be responsible for the development of future government policy and a long term plan for each of the 43 town camps. This will be achieved through the Town Camps Policy and Implementation Plan to be developed by mid-2019.
What can I do?
Over the coming months, the first stage of the report consideration will include a detailed analysis of the report and a draft plan formulated for town camps.
If you have feedback on the report or want to put forward any ideas for town camps please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
Your feedback will be considered by the Town Camps Futures Unit.
List of Town Camps
Last updated: 31 January 2020
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