NSWALC was established in the 1970s to assist in the fight for land rights. It was formally constituted as a statutory corporation under the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Rights Act in 1983.
As the State's peak representative body in Aboriginal Affairs, the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council aims to protect the interests and further the aspirations of its members and the broader Aboriginal community. NSWALC is the largest member based Aboriginal organisation in NSW.
The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) is committed to ensuring a better future for Aboriginal people by working for the return of culturally significant and economically viable land, pursuing cultural, social and economic independence for its people and being politically proactive and voicing the position of Aboriginal people on issues that affect them.
The Constitution, Objects and Functions of NSWALC are set out in Part 7 of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (1983).
These essentially give NSWALC the mandate to provide for the development of land rights for Aboriginal people in NSW, in conjunction with a network of Local Aboriginal Land Councils through:
- Land acquisition either by land claim or purchase
- Establishment of commercial enterprises and community benefit schemes to create a sustainable economic base for Aboriginal communities
- Maintenance and enhancement of Aboriginal culture, identity and heritage (including the management of traditional sites and cultural materials within NSW).
NSWALC also acts as an advisor to, and negotiates with, Governments, and other stakeholders, to ensure the preservation of Aboriginal land rights.
Under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (1983), NSWALC is empowered to do the following:
- administer the NSWALC Account and Mining Royalties Account
- grant funds for payment of the administrative costs and expenses of Local Aboriginal Land Councils.
- acquire land on its own behalf or on behalf of, or to be vested in, Local Aboriginal Land Councils
- determine and approve/reject the terms and conditions of agreements proposed by Local Aboriginal Land Councils to allow mining or mineral exploration on Aboriginal land
- make claims on Crown lands, either on its own behalf or at the request of Local Aboriginal Land Councils
- with the agreement of the particular LALC, manage any of the affairs of that Council
- conciliate disputes between Aboriginal Land Councils or between Councils and individuals or between individual members of those Councils
- make grants, lend money or invest money on behalf of Aboriginal people
- hold, dispose of or otherwise deal with land vested in or acquired by NSWALC
- ensure Local Aboriginal Land Councils comply with the Act in respect of the establishment and keeping of accounts and the preparation and submission of budgets and financial reports
- advise the Minister on matters relating to Aboriginal land rights
- exercise such other functions as conferred or imposed on it by or under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (1983) or any other Act.
To support the elected representatives at both NSWALC and Local Aboriginal Land Councils and run the organisation's extensive land council network, NSWALC has a small administrative arm headed by Chief Executive Officer, Mr James Christian.
The Chief Executive Officer has the delegated authority of the Council to assume responsibility for all aspects of the day to day operation of the Council's affairs.
How We Are Funded
A NSWALC Statutory Investment Fund was established under the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act (1983).
For fifteen years - from 1 January 1984 to 31 December 1998 - the Act provided for guaranteed funding through the payment of an amount equivalent to 7.5 per cent of NSW Land Tax (on non-residential land) to NSWALC, as compensation for land lost by the Aboriginal people of NSW.
During this period, half of the funds were available for land acquisition and administration. The remainder was deposited into a statutory account to build a capital fund to provide ongoing funding in the future.
The network is not, as is widely believed, funded by the taxpayers of NSW.
The total funds allocated were $537 million. Of this amount $268.5m was deposited in the Statutory Account.
Since 1998, NSWALC and the land council network have been self-supporting.
James Christian PSM is a proud Wiradjuri man from the Riverina area who was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council in May 2017.
Mr. Christian has extensive experience in the public sector at Commonwealth and State level.
Before joining NSWALC, Mr Christian served as National Group Manager, Disability, Employment and Careers at the Commonwealth Department of Social Services.
In New South Wales, Mr. Christian led Aboriginal Affairs NSW, was Deputy Director-General of the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care and Chief Executive Officer of the Aboriginal Housing Office.
In 2011, Mr Christian received a Public Service Medal for the outstanding service in improving opportunities for economic participation and employment of Aboriginal peoples.
HISTORY OF NSWALC
A non-statutory NSW Aboriginal Land Council was established in 1977 as a specialist Aboriginal lobby on land rights. It formed when over 200 Aboriginal community representatives and individuals met for three days at the Black Theatre in Redfern to discuss land rights.
The NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) logo was created in 1984 by Wiradjuri woman Diyan Coe.
Diyan Coe was 14 years old when she drew the picture for the State-wide competition for an image that represented the Land Rights network.
The roots of the yellow tree represent NSW Aboriginal Land Council, and its 13 branches symbolise the original NSWALC regions around the State.
The black and red take their cues from the Aboriginal flag, representing Aboriginal communities and red earth.