Home Ownership Stories

Aboriginal home owners share their own personal home ownership journey and advice.

Sharing their home ownership stories are Aunty Christine, Leeanne, Fileisha, Aaron and Natt. All uniquely different, yet similar in many ways. Their drive and passion, and at times, working through the challenges they faced, are all part of the journey to achieve their home ownership dreams. Like many other Aboriginal people’s home ownership journey, their stories are inspirational and real.

Click on the links below to find out more:

Aunty Christine

Toni-Anne’s Story – I grew up in social housing

During the Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) Listen & Yarn consultation with community, the importance of home ownership as an aspiration emerged as a very clear message. AHO has responded by setting a target under Strong Family, Strong Communities (SFSC) of providing 100 home ownership opportunities by 2022.

Toni-Anne Hart recently shared her home ownership journey to inspire Aboriginal people thinking about home ownership to show that its an attainable goal.


I grew up in public housing, now I own my home - my journey to home ownership

I grew up in public housing, our house was always over crowded. I am the eldest of 4.

With mum and dad, 4 children, then later our nephew, plus our partners, all lived in the 4 bedroom Aboriginal Housing Office property.  Somehow it worked. We all shared cooking cleaning and maintaining the lawns and grounds.

We were all happy because we had each other, even in severe overcrowded conditions.

I remember my grandparents talking about the old days at the Mission when 1 bed cottages housed 20 people. Sometimes families would live underneath cottages. Everyone was happy back then.

As an Aboriginal person, I always wanted to buy my own home but I never knew how to go about it. To be honest, I would say I had very little knowledge and had no idea where to start or who to ask.

Twenty-three years ago, I met and fell in love with one of the nicest people I have ever met, who happens to be a lady (Renee). Love is Love.

During our relationship, we talked a lot about buying our own home as we were paying high rent in the town of Coffs Harbour. Basically paying someone else’s mortgage.

May 2006 we moved to a rental property on Mount Browne Road, in the bush of the Upper Orara Valley 10 mins west of Coffs Harbour. We lived there for 4 years and couldn’t see ourselves ever moving back to town. We looked after the rental as if it was our own. We were then able to rescue 2 Dachshunds.

November 2010 the owners gave us notice to vacate as they their nephew and his family were moving up from Sydney and they wanted him to live in our rental property. We were absolutely devastated. Our life in the bush as we knew it was ending.

We vacated and left the property in immaculate condition.

We moved in with my sister in town and it was hard settling into the town life again.

December 2010 we received a call from David Small, a real estate agent with LJ Hooker. Our old landlord referred us to David and told him we were good tenants. David said he had a property he wanted us to look at in Mount Browne Road.

He said to give it a chance as it was not in good condition.  It was a 2-bedroom house on 5 acres surrounded by forest.

Upon my first look, I wanted to have it bulldozed. It was gutted and in poor condition, horrible. My partner Renee saw it differently. She saw it as it is today. A beautiful home.

After a few days, I then realised it was an opportunity to own our home on Gumbaynggirr Land.

We did some research and approached Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) and made the application. IBA advised there was a 3 month wait.

We then spoke to my partner’s sister, as she was a bank manager with the National Australia Bank. She advised us to shop around and we found the Bananacoast Credit Union had good rates but they needed a 5% deposit. We then had to apply to borrow the 5% deposit from AGC, a small loan finance company.

David from LJ Hooker advised the property was on the market and we needed to put in an offer. Even though we didn’t have any finance yet, we put in an offer and David made a good case for us with the owners.

The next day David advised us our offer on the property had been accepted. I broke out in a sweat that I have never experienced since.  It may have been because we were not approved for the loan or our offer had been accepted for a home! I will never know.

The Credit Union approved our home loan.

We then had to find a conveyancing company. Again, not knowing anything, we researched and engaged Simply Conveyancing who managed the building and pest inspections, fees and contracts.

They were awesome! Step by step they took us through every process. We settled in March 2011.

toni 4

Picking up the keys was the scariest time of my life. It became real, having a debt, a mortgage.

We moved in over the long weekend in June 2011.

Even though there was a lot of work to be done, we had the rest of our lives to do it because it was our home.

I remember staring in disbelief at the large bottle of champagne LJ Hooker gave us, thinking I hope we have made the right decision.  We then had dinner on the cement floor of our home to celebrate.

We had a month before we had to make our first payment.

I lost some sleep for a few nights but then, I thought, this is our home. We walked around pinching ourselves for weeks after as we could not believe we brought this beautiful property in the valley we grew to love. I looked past the work and focused on what needed to be done to make it clean, safe and habitable.

Slowly, my attitude began to change when we started renovations. A work colleague was renovating and she sold us her old kitchen. As we progressed, looking around our home, I had a good feeling that we made the right decision. My partner’s brother in law was a carpenter, tiler, and did much of the work. We used our first home buyers grant to pay for a new roof as the old one leaked.

I have worked in the social housing industry for over 25 years, with the Local Land Council and now with Housing (Department of Communities and Justice). I have seen big changes, and I have always encouraged everyone to buy their own home, especially to avoid paying high rents.

Looking back on our journey 9 years ago, I would do it again. Definitely.

I am always letting everyone know that, yes it’s daunting at first, but as it settles, you become excited.

Being the eldest, I took up the responsibility and led the way for my brother and sisters.

My brother owns his home and my sister built, sold, then brought again. I have other relatives that have followed and brought their homes and other relatives asking advice.

I am also happy to say, we have an investment property in Queensland through our Self-Managed Super Fund.

  • acknowledge

We acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we work and pay our respects to the Elders, both past and present.

Apology to the Stolen Generations