Abstract: Managed retreat is part of the planners’ analytical toolkit. It considers that human displacements driven by climate change will be more just if they are strategically managed by well-resourced authorities. In contrast to the contradistinction this discourse establishes between the status quo of ad hoc displacement and planned relocation, managed retreat disregards other policies that similarly encourage migration from places the state deems unviable. This article argues that slow withdrawal as managed retreat offers a framework for understanding policies that facilitate the reduction or discontinuation of services that settler colonial states formerly delivered to particular contexts. It does so through historical analysis of state support for housing and essential services infrastructure at Indigenous homelands and remote communities in the Northern Territory of Australia. Slow withdrawal as managed retreat emphasises the geographically differentiated character of state investment, highlights the reconfiguration of obligations for service provision between different levels of government, and considers whether and how ‘abandonment’ is appropriate ‘land back’ policy advancing Indigenous sovereignty. The article examines how the settler state withdraws specific supports while remaining present, and it considers the process of slow withdrawal as managed retreat in relation to contemporary demands for greater community control of Indigenous housing.