Seventy five building projects worth more than $130 million are under way or on the drawing board at Groote Eylandt.
The work is being carried out by the Anindilyakwa Land Council’s Infrastructure Branch, which is using two local Indigenous-owned construction companies, Gebie Civil and Construction and Aminjarrinja Enterprises, along with numerous other Territory-based construction businesses.
Up to 100 Aboriginal people are expected to gain qualifications or full-time jobs from the five-year building program.
General Manager Matt Houston says the projects range from building homes to upgrading bush roads and sustainable solar power plants.
Eighty-one homes are being constructed in partnership with the Northern Territory Government, which means that Indigenous people are helping to build their own homes and live more comfortably on their own land.
The smaller initiatives are also important.
“Some may not seem that important to outsiders but they make a lot of difference to people’s lives,” Matt says.
“For instance, repairing and upgrading bush roads means local people can get back on country to fish, hunt and camp. Or live in a new home that local people have been involved in designing and building.”
The land council insists that the companies winning building tenders employ and train Indigenous people.
“Over the past 30 years contractors have been coming here promising they will take on local people and not living up to their promises. Things are now changing for the better,” says Matt.
Building projects include:
- Sports and recreation hub at Angururu. $5 million.
- Men Shed at Umbakumba. $1.2 million.
- Music Studio at Umbakumba. $1.8m
- Three BMX tracks. $600,000.
- Boarding school at Milyakburra. $40 million.
- Aquaculture ventures. Estimated $12 million.