Update on LALC Members’ Meetings, Compliance and COVID-19 Restrictions

14 October 2021

The Office of the Registrar and the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) would like to provide updated advice to Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs) regarding the holding of Members’ Meetings and a range of LALC compliance requirements under the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (the ALRA) and the NSWALC Funding Agreements.

NSWALC and the Registrar encourage all LALCs to consider the new NSW Public Health Orders in detail, and to take appropriate actions in order to ensure the safety of their staff and community.

COVID-19 related legislation – NSW legislation

LALC Meetings

At this point in time, in light of the lower vaccination rates in some regional areas and across the Aboriginal community, the Registrar and NSWALC caution against holding Members’ Meetings.

If your LALC has urgent business that requires a Members’ Meeting, we encourage you to work with NSWALC Zone staff and the Office of the Registrar to ensure that all reasonable precautions are taken to mitigate risk to Staff, Members and Community.

It is recommended that LALCs proceed with caution and consider any public health order requirements when holding Members’ Meetings, including the requirement for a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

We encourage LALCs discuss with the Zone Office and consider the following when deciding whether to hold a Members’ Meeting during this time:

  1. The current Health Order and requirements, noting that the requirements vary according to region and can be changed at short notice;
  2. The health and safety of LALC Staff, Members and Community;
  3. Current vaccination rates in your area; and
  4. Whether the meeting is essential to the successful operation of the LALC.

It is recommended that LALCs consider providing up to date information to your Staff, Members and Community to ensure everyone displays COVID safe behaviour in all areas of the LALC’s operations.

It is further recommended that LALCS consider and discuss your Land Council’s policies in relation to any requirements under the Public Health Order.

LALCs should also review the safety advice in the link below.

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/resources.aspx

Compliance

NSWALC and the Registrar will not require LALCs to fulfil the requirements of the ALRA in relation to:

  • The requirement that LALCs hold regular Members’ Meetings ie: every three months
  • The requirement that LALCs hold their Annual Meeting between the 1st of July and the 30th of September.

The waiver of these requirements will remain in place until the NSWALC and the Registrar advise further.

Lodgement of LALC Annual Financial Statements

The ALRA and related NSWALC Policy and the Funding Agreements require that LALCs lodge their annual financial statements and other documents with NSWALC by the 1st of November each year.

This requirement will still apply although the need to have the Statements receipted by the LALC Members at the Annual Meeting will not apply.

Annual Reports

The ALRA and related NSWALC policy and the Funding Agreements require that LALCs lodge their Annual Reports and CLBP Implementation Reports with NSWALC by the 1st of November each year.

This requirement will still apply although the need to have these Reports receipted by the Members at the Annual Meeting will not apply.

Review of LALC Community Land and Business Plans (CLBPs)

NSWALC has approved a further extension to the date in which a LALC is required to amend and approve the CLBP after a Board has been elected. The ALRA requires that this occurs within nine months of the 2019 LALC Board elections.

NSWALC previously provided an extended timeframe for this to occur (31 December 2021). However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 concerns, NSWALC has further extended this timeframe to the 31st of March 2022.

During this extension period, it is recommended that the LALC CEO and Board review and prepare a draft CLBP and submit to their respective Zone Office for review and comments before further review by the LALC Members at a later stage.

LALC Board Member mandatory Governance Training requirements

The ALRA requires that LALC Board members undertake Governance Training within six months of being elected. There are still a number of Board members elected in 2019 who have not undertaken this mandatory governance training (MGT).

NSWALC has previously provided an extension to that timeframe (31 December 2021). However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 concerns, NSWALC has further extended this timeframe to the 31st of March 2022.

As an option, NSWALC Zone Offices can provide Governance Training to LALC Board members online. Please contact your respective Zone Office to enquire.

Overview of Meeting Advice:

LALC MeetingsNSWALC/Registrar AdviceALRA Requirement/Action
3 monthly meetingDelay holding. If a necessity, proceed with extreme caution and abide by all COVID-19 safety requirements.Nil
Annual MeetingDelay holding. If a necessity, proceed with extreme caution and abide by all COVID-19 safety requirements.Nil
Casual Board member vacancy MeetingDelay holding. If a necessity, proceed with extreme caution and abide by all COVID-19 safety requirements.NSWALC and Registrar will assess requests for a Returning Officer as per the COVID-19 requirements.

Overview of Compliance Requirements:

Compliance RequirementsStatusALRA Requirement/Action
Lodging Annual Financial Statements by 1 NovemberStill required.Will result in cessation of funding.
Lodging Annual Report incl CLBP Implementation Report by 1 NovemberStill required.Will result in cessation of funding.
Board member mandatory Governance TrainingExtension to timeframe to 31 March 2022.Nil
CLBP Approval 9 months after Board electionsExtension to timeframe to 31 March 2022.Nil

Both the Registrar and NSWALC are happy to provide guidance to LALCs regarding LALC operations during the COVID-19 health crisis. In some case the LALC may need to obtain independent legal advice in relation to the Public Health orders.

If you have any queries or need to further discuss the matters contained in this Network Message, please contact your NSWALC Zone Office in the first instance.

NSWALC and the Registrar will provide further updates as the Public Health Orders change.

Please stay safe.