New way forward for indigenous land claims

18th July 2017 5:30 AM
The State Government is creating a new process that aims to better navigate indigenous land claims. The State Government is creating a new process that aims to better navigate indigenous land claims. Alistair Brightman

LOCAL governments and Aboriginal Land Councils are being encouraged to lodge expressions of interest for the Land Negotiations Program.

Minister for Lands and Forestry Paul Toole said the State Government was looking to enter into additional negotiations following the introductions of the program last year.

"These negotiations mean Aboriginal Land Councils and local governments can sit down with the NSW Government and consider land claims in a more efficient and strategic way,” Mr Toole said.

"These negotiations are intended to provide more certainty around land that holds cultural, spiritual or economic significance to indigenous communities.

"There will be an opportunity for local indigenous communities and local governments to have a direct say in the management of land that is not already classified as state-significant.”

Mr Toole was joined by representatives of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, Local Government NSW and other stakeholders at Parliament House on July 6 to launch this next phase of the program.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Sarah Mitchell said it's important local Aboriginal land councils are closely involved so land significant to their communities can be considered.

"The NSW Government is working with Aboriginal communities across the state to ensure everything we do is done in partnership with the communities,” Mrs Mitchell said.

"In NAIDOC Week, as we celebrate the history and culture of indigenous communities, we recognise indigenous peoples' strong spiritual connection to land.”

Mr Toole said the Land Negotiation Program started in 2016 as a pilot, commencing in four local government areas - Tweed, Tamworth, Federation and Northern Beaches councils.

"We want to hear from other local governments and Aboriginal land councils interested in taking part in this voluntary program, which aims to deliver better management of Crown land for the benefit of the entire community,” Mr Toole said.

Expressions of interest close August 18.

For more information visit the Crown land website.