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

2 September 2021

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

The Office of the Registrar and the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) would like to provide 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.

LALC Meetings

Risks around COVID-19 Delta strain have continued to increase in regional NSW and other parts of the country.

LALCs are advised not to hold face to face Members’ Meetings at this time due to the current NSW Public Health Orders associated with the impending impacts of the COVID-19 Delta strain.

The LALC CEO will continue to manage the day-to-day operations of the LALC with the oversight by the LALC Board. Where possible, we encourage LALC Boards to consider undertaking Board meetings by electronic means, such as telephone conferencing, Teams, Skype etc.

NSW Government Restrictions

The current COVID-19 crisis has seen NSW Government restrictions continue across NSW. The latest restrictions were made by Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 2) 2021 on 10 July 2021.

Under this order, LALC Members’ Meetings and gatherings cannot go ahead due to the increased risk of COVID-19 and the current lockdown/stay at home restrictions for all NSW residents.

Please follow and adhere to any Public Health requirements.  

Advice from NSWALC and the Office of the Registrar

At this time, No LALC Members’ Meetings can be held and the Office of the Registrar and NSWALC advise LALCs to adhere to these restrictions.

Once restrictions have eased, LALCs will need to proceed with caution and adhere to any public order requirements when holding Members’ Meetings and a COVID-19 Safety Plan will be a requirement.

The Office of the Registrar and NSWALC request that LALCs inform their Zone Director that a meeting will occur, and work with the Zone to ensure that the LALC takes all reasonable precautions to manage the health and safety of members and staff. This advice includes planning for a meeting to fill a casual Board member vacancy. LALCs are requested to liaise with their Zone Office or the Registrar on whether there is a critical need to fill any vacancies at this time.

Please be advised that due to the current health crisis, NSWALC and the Registrar will not enforce the requirements of the ALRA in relation to:

  • The requirement that LALCs hold regular Members’ Meetings ie: every 3 months;
  • The requirement that LALCs hold their Annual Meeting between the 1st of July and the 30th of September.

This non-enforcement will remain in place until the NSWALC and the Registrar advise otherwise.

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

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

Other Compliance Issues:

  • 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 9 months of the 2019 LALC Board elections.

NSWALC previously provided an extended timeframe for this to occur (30 September 2021). However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 concerns, NSWALC has further extended this timeframe to the 31st of December 2021.

During this extension period, it is advisable that the LALC CEO and Board review and prepare a draft CLBP and submit to their respective Zone Office for review and comments in preparation for further review by the LALC Members.

  • LALC Board Member Mandatory Governance Training requirements

The ALRA requires that LALC Board members undertake Governance Training within 6 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 (30 September 2021). However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 concerns, NSWALC has further extended this timeframe to the 31st of December 2021.

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

Please see an Overview of Meeting Advice and Compliance Requirements below.

LALC MeetingsNSWALC/Registrar AdviceEnforcement Action
3 monthly meetingDelay holding.Nil
Annual MeetingDelay holding.Nil
Casual Board member vacancy MeetingDelay holding.NSWALC and Registrar will advise LALCs when public health orders allow.
Compliance RequirementsStatusEnforcement 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 December 2021.Nil
CLBP Approval 9 months after Board electionsExtension to timeframe to 31 December 2021.Nil

Both the Registrar and NSWALC are happy to provide guidance to LALCs in relation to their operations during the COVID-19 health crisis. The information above is provided to assist LALCs to manage their various responsibilities under the ALRA and related NSWALC policies.

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 should Public Health Orders change.