Land Rights the answer to unlocking Aboriginal economic development

Land Rights the answer to unlocking Aboriginal economic development

1 June 2016

New South Wales' unique system of Land Rights holds the key to fostering Aboriginal economic development, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) said today.

NSWALC Chair Roy Ah-See said the Land Rights network welcomed the release of a special report from NSW Ombudsman which investigated ways the NSW Government could support Aboriginal-led economic enterprise.

Cr Ah-See said NSWALC was pleased that the Ombudsman recognised the key role played by the State's 120 Local Aboriginal Land Councils in economic development.

"Under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983, Local Aboriginal Land Councils are well on the way to driving economic self-determination by converting successful land claims into economic growth and jobs," he said.

"NSWALC has invested $16 million over five years under its economic development strategy, providing start-up capital, business development and capacity-building," Cr Ah-See said.

He said the Ombudsman's report stressed the need for the NSW Government to deepen its engagement with Aboriginal organisations, invest in education, set procurement targets for Aboriginal employment and business and to support entrepreneurship.

"The NSW Aboriginal Land Council is the largest member-based Aboriginal organisation in Australia and is ready to partner with the NSW Government to deliver on its commitment to keep New South Wales as the best place to live and work.

"Many of our Local Aboriginal Land Councils already have runs on the board in economic development. In the Hunter, Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council run an award-winning tourism business that attracts Australian and international visitors.

"Throughout regional and rural New South Wales, Local Aboriginal Land Councils are making an important contribution, engaging in economic development and operating small businesses," Cr Ah-See said.

The Ombudsman also highlighted the delays in determining and transferring successfully-claimed land to the Land Rights network.

"Delays and a significant backlog of claims awaiting determination are obstacles to Aboriginal economic development but we acknowledge the NSW Government's willingness to work with the Land Rights network on this issue," he said.

The report noted that there were more Aboriginal people living in New South Wales than any other State or Territory.

"The Aboriginal population in New South Wales is growing and will be a larger participant in Australia's number one economy for generations to come.

"As a community, if we are serious about closing the gap on Aboriginal disadvantage and growing the State economy, we need to recognise that economic self-determination is the best way forward for Aboriginal people in New South Wales."

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Media contact: Andrew Williams 0429 585 291