NSWALC Land Rights Representation at the United Nations

8 May, 2023

Members of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) have finalised participation and advocacy at the 2023 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in New York.

The UNPFII was established in 2000 with the mandate to deal with Indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. The 2023 UNFPII runs from April 17 to April 28, 2023.

NSWALC attends the UNPFII as a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) with special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The 2023 NSWALC representatives were North Western Region Councillor  Anne Dennis, Central Region Councillor Grace Toomey and the NSWALC CEO Yuseph Deen.

UNPFII participation allows NSWALC to present issues and concerns and advocate in an international arena as well as building and fostering relationships with other Indigenous organisations, particularly from Australia and the Pacific.

Discussions included the return of land and waters to First Nations people and building systems that protect culture and heritage.

NSWALC submitted seven interventions to the Permanent Forum. The interventions included:

An International Decade of Indigenous languages

A call for governments to empower and resource Aboriginal Land Councils and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to protect and preserve Aboriginal languages, to ensure a sustained increase in Aboriginal languages being spoken in our communities.

Indigenous Women and Girls

A call for governments to respect Indigenous women’s power to voice their opinion and decision based on free, prior and informed consent, and to be self-determining.

Human rights dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

This intervention delivered by the NSWALC CEO Yuseph Deen included the ongoing issue of the First Nations culture and heritage rights and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

NSWALC made the following recommendations that all States:

  • Implement the UNDRIP within domestic legislation and policies at all levels;
  • Acknowledge the interconnected nature of land, cultural heritage, language and identity. First Nations peoples must have access to these rights in order to fully realise our social, economic and cultural development;
  • Immediately legislate to strengthen protections for First Nations culture and heritage. Reforms must be designed and endorsed by First Nations peoples in alignment with the UNDRIP;
  • Fund, and have confidence in, First Nations community-controlled organisations to undertake culture and heritage programs.

Dialogue with Indigenous People

This intervention delivered by Grace Toomey, Councillor for the Central Region detailed the shortfall in dedicated Aboriginal social and affordable housing in NSW.

NSWALC made the following recommendations that all States:

  • Significantly increase funding for the new supply of dedicated Aboriginal social and affordable housing stock;
  • Invest in the Aboriginal community housing sector to support increased opportunities for Aboriginal people to participate in the service delivery, management and governance of social and affordable housing in NSW;
  • Invest in supporting the Land Council Network to leverage existing land assets and other strengths;
  • Invest in housing on missions and reserves which were set up to segregate Aboriginal people and now managed by our local Aboriginal Land Councils.

You can download copies of NSWALCs interventions and presentation here:

NSWALC has up-to-date information, photos and videos on social media at Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

NSWALC Councillors Grace Toomey and Anne Dennis
(Left to right) . Hannah McGlade, Expert Member of the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues, NSWALC North Western Region Councillor Anne Dennis, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Francisco Cali Tzay, NSWALC Central Region Councillor Grace Toomey, NSWALC CEO Yuseph Deen


We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners of the lands where we work as well as across the lands we travel through. We also acknowledge our Elders past, present and emerging.

Artwork Credit: Craig Cromelin, from a painting he did titled, "4 favourite fishing holes". It is a snippet of his growing years on the Lachlan River, featuring yabby, turtle, fish and family.