10 June, 2016
A Land Rights Act NSW can be proud of
10 June 2016
The Land Rights network in New South Wales today celebrates the anniversary of one of the most progressive pieces of legislation ever passed by the NSW Parliament.
On 10 June 1983, the NSW Parliament passed the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983, creating a process for the return of land to Aboriginal people and the establishment of land councils to represent Aboriginal people in New South Wales.
NSW Aboriginal Land Council Chair Roy Ah-See said the Act and the achievements of the Land Rights network over the past 33 years were something everyone in New South Wales could be proud of.
"Today, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council is the largest member-based Aboriginal organisation in Australia with 23,000 members, providing leadership for a network of 120 Local Aboriginal Land Councils and manages an asset base of more than $600 million.
Cr Ah-See paid tribute to the Land Rights legends of the 1970s and 1980s who fought for the best Land Rights system in Australia.
"In the past year we lost Land Rights legends like former Chairs Kevin Cook and Tiga Bayles. It is their vision, leadership and tenacity that we celebrate today.
"Under the system of Land Rights they and others fought for, Local Aboriginal Land Councils in New South Wales are able to claim Crown land that is unused or unneeded.
"Like any other owner of freehold title, Local Aboriginal Land Councils can buy, sell, or lease land for the benefit of their members.
"Throughout the State, we have Local Aboriginal Land Councils engaged in property development and international tourism ventures. In many regional towns and centres they are the main providers of essential services.
"The NSW Aboriginal Land Council is also investing in the capacity of Local Aboriginal Land Councils through a $16 million five-year economic development strategy which is providing start-up capital and business development support for the network.
"The return of land to Aboriginal people has provided new opportunities to strengthen us culturally and spiritually and to provide our own revenue streams, jobs and training opportunities.
"The passage of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act in 1983 not only recognised past dispossession of land but went further by providing a unique system of compensation that has allowed Aboriginal people to pursue self-determination and economic independence.
Cr Ah-See said NSWALC was ready to meet the challenges of building a sustainable economic base for Aboriginal people in New South Wales.
"The Land Rights network expects us to deliver for Local Aboriginal Land Councils by providing leadership on economic development initiatives. It's time for us to get on with the job of turning those aspirations into employment and training for our mob.
"More Aboriginal people live in New South Wales than in any other State or Territory and population increases will see Aboriginal people playing a greater part in the State's society and economy.
"The Land Rights network in New South Wales sees economic independence and self-determination as the best way to close the gap on disadvantage and will continue to use land as the vehicle to improve living standards for Aboriginal people."
Media contact: Andrew Williams 0429 585 291