Aboriginal Land Agreement Negotiation Framework released
29 August 2016

The NSW Government has released the Aboriginal Land Agreement (ALA) Negotiation Framework.

The Framework will guide voluntary ALA negotiations over land and land claims between the NSW Government, Local Government and Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs) as part of the Government's Crown Land Review Crown Land Divestment Program.

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) has long advocated for the inclusion of Aboriginal interests and LALCs in the Crown Land Review. 

The Framework is a result of that advocacy and will guide the inclusion of LALCs in the Government's Crown Land reform processes.

NSWALC has undertaken a series of consultations with the Land Rights network to discuss the development of the Framework and key issues for the network.

NSWALC has been working to ensure that the Framework includes best-practice standards and addresses the concerns of the network to provide the best chance for any negotiations to be fair and successful.

About Aboriginal Land Agreements (ALAs)

On 1 July 2015, section 36AA of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (ALRA) commenced, allowing for the NSW Government and LALCs to negotiate ALAs.

ALAs allow for the negotiation of land, land claims and other outcomes. They can provide flexibility in delivering the social, cultural and economic outcomes intended by the ALRA.

ALAs were introduced as an additional mechanism to the existing land claim determination process under the ALRA. Importantly, all ALA negotiations are voluntary - a LALC cannot be forced to negotiate. 

ALA Negotiation Framework

The ALA Negotiation Framework aims to ensure ALA negotiations are fair and likely to succeed in the objectives of: 

  • Speeding up the processing of land claims
  • Providing more sustainable social, cultural and economic outcomes for LALCs and Aboriginal communities from the return of land
  • Providing greater certainty to all parties over Crown land

The Framework defines the scope of ALA negotiations, provides principles that will guide how negotiations should be conducted and puts forward procedural elements to ensure negotiations are fair and likely to succeed.

The Framework provides minimum standards. However, it does not interfere with the rights of parties to agree on their own negotiation processes.

Next steps

NSWALC will be discussing these developments at upcoming Regional Forums.

Voluntary negotiations are expected to commence in two pilot sites to test the Framework and the Government's reform proposals.

For more information about ALAs and the Negotiation Framework contact the NSWALC Policy Unit on 02 9689 4444.