Amendments to the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act (ALRA) in 2014 has categorised the provision of residential accommodation by a LALC to its members and others as a “community benefits scheme” (CBS).
The 2014 amendments now require that NSWALC approve the ongoing provision of a community benefits scheme for the provision of residential accommodation by a LALC if the LALC is not a registered Aboriginal housing organisation (within the meaning of the NSW Aboriginal Housing Act 1998) or a registered community housing provider (within the meaning of the Community Housing Providers National Law (NSW)). NSWALC approval is required for such schemes by the 1st of January 2016.
As a result of these amendments, NSWALC has developed the NSWALC Policy on the Approval of LALC Community Benefits Schemes (Residential Accommodation) or CBS(RA). This policy was approved by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the approval was published in the Government Gazette on the 14th of August 2015 and the policy took effect from that date. The former SHAPE policy of NSWALC is not superseded by the CBS(RA) policy.
In preparing this policy, NSWALC distributed the draft policy for comment to all LALCs.
To assist LALC’s in understanding the approval process and the statutory requirements that must be met to gain NSWALC approval, a Guide for LALC’s was also developed, along with an electronic application and budget package. This information was provided to LALC’s for their use when developing their application to NSWALC seeking approval for the operations of their CBS(RA).
When the Policy was developed and released, there were some 42 LALC’s who were required to seek NSWALC approval for the operation of their CBS(RA).
The Policy allows for NSWALC to attach conditions to any approval given. These conditions require LALC’s to undertake specific actions within a specified timeframe in order that the requirements of the Policy are met.
In short, the Policy and ALRA require that NSWALC not approve a LALC CBS(RA) unless it can be satisfied that:
- The proposed scheme complies with the ALRA and regulations;
- The proposed scheme is consistent with any applicable policy of the NSWALC;
- The proposed scheme is consistent with the Community, Land and Business plan of the LALC;-
- The proposed scheme is fair and equitable and will be administered in a way that is responsible and transparent;
- The proposed scheme is not likely to prevent the LALC from being able to meet its debts as and when they fall due;
- The need for the proposed scheme is not otherwise being adequately met.
Notwithstanding the range of legislative changes in relation to LALC provision of housing to its members and others, NSWALC remains committed to a sustainable, Aboriginal controlled housing sector in NSW.