It is clear that genuine housing opportunity is a high priority for Cape York families.

99% of houses on Indigenous land on Cape York are government controlled and funded. Over 1,000 of those households have an income that exceeds government-led rental housing eligibility criteria. They want better options but they are trapped in government housing.

Government-led housing on Cape York is crippling people’s opportunity by entrenching welfare and passivity:

  • State policies crowd out individual responsibility.
  • For those people that want self-reliance there are no options.
  • The administration of Indigenous land is almost impossible to negotiate.

Yet, government continues to fund housing without addressing the issues that are desperately needed to allow families and communities to access genuine housing and home ownership opportunity.

When I was going to Brisbane I looked out the window and the land was like a carpet. Because that’s what the white fellas did, they made those little carpets with their properties and their industries. Why aren’t we doing that?

Willie Gordon

Hope Vale


Below are a series of newsletters developed to help Cape York people make a plan to move forward with their own housing and home ownership opportunities. These newsletters build on the information and discussions that were had at the Pama Futures Housing and Home Ownership Gathering in Hope Vale and Cooktown in October 2019.

  • Newsletter 1 – Introduction to the Housing and Home Ownership Gathering held in October 2019 including the hot topics of discussion. Further details of the leasing arrangements being established in Hope Vale.
  • Newsletter 2 – Describes the differences between land in town and land outside of town. Provides information about Katter leases across Cape York.
  • Newsletter 3 – This edition is packed full of the agreements and actions which were made at the Housing and Home Ownership Gathering
  • Newsletter 4 – The ins and outs of leasing are explained in detail in this edition, including the answer to the question “I’m a TO, why do I need a lease?”
  • Newsletter 5 – The focus of this newsletter is house prices and outlines the current differences in how house prices are set in Cape York towns as compared to small regional towns elsewhere in Queensland. This edition also includes a short summary of the Housing and Home Ownership outcomes of the Pama Futures Reform Leaders workshop held in December 2019
  • Newsletter 6 – Introducing the concept of a Community Land Trust including a case study of the largest CLT in the US.
  • Newsletter 7 – The second part in the series explaining Community Land Trusts and also an update from Ivan Deemal on the progress that Hope Vale has been making since the delegates attended last October
  • Newsletter 8 – The focus of this edition is buying houses in town. This can be quite a technical topic, so as usual, if you have any questions please feel free to give me, Mick or Stu a call.
  • Housing and Home Ownership Gathering – Summary Report  – In October 2019, delegates from across Cape York travelled to Cooktown and Hope Vale to learn more about the ground-breaking work that that Hope Vale Congress Aboriginal Corporation have been doing and to discuss housing and home ownership issues from across the region.


Below are some links to videos that relate directly to Housing and Home Ownership opportunities for Cape York people

Presentation from John Davis, Champlain Housing Trust detailing how Community Land Trusts operate in the US. He prepared this presentation for the Pama Futures housing policy workshop conducted in Brisbane in July 2018. Part 1

Presentation from John Davis, Champlain Housing Trust detailing how Community Land Trusts operate in the US. He prepared this presentation for the Pama Futures housing policy workshop conducted in Brisbane in July 2018. Part 2

Cape York Housing and Home Ownership event summary

Policy and Submissions


Cape York Institute has been advocating for Housing and Home Ownership opportunity on Indigenous Land for over 15 years. Below are some of the key policy and submissions documents developed over the years.


20181207_ATSIHousingPlan_DHPW submission

Cape York Institute Submission in response to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Action Plan (released for public comment by DHPW 9 November 2018). The submission makes the case for holistic housing reform in Queensland’s remote and discrete Indigenous communities.

20180730_A Case for Reform

A graphical explanation of the urgent and vital case for a regional approach to housing on Cape York. Prepared as part of the Pama Futures Housing and Home Ownership policy forum in July 2018. See the supporting Cape York Housing Reform Policy Brief below.

20180620_Cape York housing reform policy brief

The case for a regional approach to housing on Cape York. Providing the detail for Indigenous-led regional housing solutions.

20171219_PMC Housing Policy

CYI discussion paper prepared for the Federal Government recommending methods for improving tenant and home ownership outcomes for Cape York’s First Nations people.

20171219_Noel Pearson Slams Black Housing

Featured in The Australian newspaper, this article outlines Noel Pearson’s response to the Indigenous Affairs Minister’s announcement of a new program of social housing development in remote Indigenous communities.

20161128_NPARIH paper

Cape York Institute critiques the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPARIH) which is described as an unfolding policy disaster.

20150507_CYRO sub_COAG Investigation into Land Admin

Submission by the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership and the Cape York Land Council to the Expert Indigenous Working Group for the COAG Investigation into Indigenous Land Administration and Use. It is proposed that there is a need to get real about Indigenous land ownership, administration and use.


Submission by the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership in response to the Federal Government’s “Indigenous Home Ownership Issues Paper” detailing the need for creating opportunity and choice for home ownership and economic development in Indigenous towns.

20100206_Social housing rips the heart out of indigenous communities

An article featured in The Australian newspaper written by Noel Pearson covering reflections on life in remote communities and the debilitating role of welfare passivity and social housing.

20091212_Give a hard working bloke the title to his life

An article featured in The Weekend Australian newspaper written by Noel Pearson. The article outlines the tyranny of land tenure and the heartbreaking effects on the Woibo family’s passionfruit farm.


This paper sets out to bring more rigour in considering the fundamental question of economic viability, not just for remote communities in the Cape, but more generally for other Indigenous communities in Australia, and indeed for mainstream regional and remote communities as well.

20040701_Building Indigenous Capital

Drawing on the work of Peruvian economist, Hernando de Soto, this paper outlines the obstacles to Indigenous capital formation, the impact of this in Australia and the need for a solution.

Contact the Housing and Home Ownership Team

Please let us know if you need any information or support with housing matters for your community meetings or other actions that you decide to take in your community. CYI may be able to provide some answers to the questions you or other people might have. Contact Stuart Downs on or Mick Schuele on or Tania Cobham on