Tangentyere Council is the major service delivery agency for the 18 Housing Associations known as ‘town camps’ in Alice Springs. Tangentyere Council began operating in the early 1970s and was first incorporated in 1979.
Tangentyere Council was established to assist Aboriginal people to gain some form of legal tenure of the land they were living on in order to obtain essential services and housing. There are now 16 town camps on special purpose leases. The two housing associations that still have no security of tenure cannot access any government funding for housing and infrastructure, so they live in tin sheds with no running water and no power.
Each Town Camp comprises a largely distinct Indigenous community based on language and kinship groups. The majority of Town Camps have Arrente residents, who are the traditional owners of Alice Springs and its immediate surrounds.
However a number of Town Camps have residents belonging to other language groups, whose traditional lands are further from Alice Springs, but who have moved to Alice Springs over a period of time for various reasons. Town Camp residents often have strong links with remote communities and there is substantial mobility between bush and town.
While these Town Camps are located in Alice Springs, residents are often culturally and linguistically isolated from the services available in town. Provision of services by Tangentyere Council, often in partnership with government and other non government organisations, means that Town Camps residents have access to services which they would otherwise miss out on.
Today, Tangentyere Council manages 198 houses for approximately 1,600 to 2,000 town camp residents, the populations on Town Camps increasing to up to 3,500 people as they cater to a constant visitor population from Central Australian communities. In addition to housing and related services, Tangentyere Council provides a range of family and youth services, runs a night patrol and a youth patrol, has a research hub, an art centre, an aged and community care program, a community banking facility, a financial counsellor and five not for profit enterprises.
Tangentyere also provides some programs to remote area communities such as inhalant substance and youth initiatives, and Return To Country program. Tangentyere recognizes that the support of remote area communities reduces the impact on Alice Springs and Town Camp communities.
While there has been an undeniable improvement in town camp conditions - from illegal squatters to land tenure, from humpies and bits of tin to houses, the living standards of town camp residents remain unacceptably low. Overcrowded housing and poor levels of education and health are common.
Town Camp residents have been tenacious in their determination to stay on their own place. However, the right to have a say in their own lives is still one which town campers must constantly assert.
T 08 8951 4222
F 08 8952 8521
A 4 Elder Street Alice Springs NT 0870
P PO Box 8070 Alice Springs NT 0871