Freehold: is it all it’s cracked up to be?

Thursday, 2 June 2016
Geoffrey Winters

Lessons learnt from the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (NSW)

Since 1983 the NSW statutory Aboriginal land rights act has provided for a beneficial scheme to return land to traditional owners in freehold to enable economic development and empowerment. Since the enactment of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) there has been discussion as to whether or not the absence of granting freehold title under the scheme has limited the opportunities of native title to deliver economic and community development.

This paper will explore some of the issues and challenges to Aboriginal communities under the NSW regime to achieve economic development with a view to identifying issues and lessons to be learnt for native title beneficiaries and groups. 

These issues will include:

  • Lessons that specific land councils have learnt about the risks of development
  • Opportunities for native title groups in relation to non-commercial activities
  • The benefits and detriments to centralised approval of resale and other significant land uses
  • Centralised decision making (ie state land councils) versus individual groups will and opportunities