We’ve partnered with the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC), Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs) and local councils to implement the Land Negotiation Program (the program) in response to recommendations from the Crown Lands Management Review in 2014.
We are working to ensure that land within the NSW Crown Estate is held by the most appropriate landholder so the people of NSW can gain positive social, economic, cultural and environmental benefits. It is also important to retain land of State significance for future generations.
Program benefits include:
- local ownership of Crown land to advantage local communities
- reduced red tape and the regulatory burden on local government
- more efficient and streamlined land management
- recognition of the importance of land to Aboriginal people and to support sustainable spiritual, cultural, environmental and economic benefits for Aboriginal people.
The program utilises Aboriginal Land Agreements (ALA) under the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (ALR Act) to recognise the importance of land to Aboriginal people.
Our partnership with the NSW Aboriginal Land Council includes the development of the Aboriginal Land Agreement Negotiation Framework (2016) to ensure that ALA negotiations are fair and likely to succeed in the shared objectives of:
- speeding the processing of Aboriginal Land Claims (ALCs)
- providing more sustainable social, cultural and economic outcomes for LALCs and Aboriginal communities from the return of land
- providing greater certainty to all parties over Crown land.
Note: ALAs do not replace the existing ALC process. ALCs continue to be processed on an individual basis against criteria specified under Section 36 of ALR Act. ALAs are a new mechanism based on negotiations that have the potential to allow for the settlement of multiple ALCs.
Status of negotiation
The program commenced in 2016 in three local government areas (LGAs): Tweed, Tamworth and Northern Beaches with the respective LALCs and local councils. In 2017, the program expanded to Randwick, Central Coast, Hilltops, Orange, Cabonne Shire, Blayney Shire and Lismore LGAs.
The program will expand to an additional five LGAs in 2018/19 and six in 2019/20. The program is currently funded until 2020 and extension will be subject to program evaluation.
How the program works
Voluntary negotiations are held between the NSW Government (represented by the Department of Industry), the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, LALCs, and local councils to consider Crown land in a given area and explore which party may be best placed to own that land in recognition of their interests in the land.
There are four stages to the program:
- Preliminary—agreement to participate is sought from all parties. Includes scoping work and access to Crown land data through LandsLink.
- Assessment—each party undertakes a thorough assessment of the Crown land they are interested in owning and managing within consideration of the state land criteria, and for local councils, the local land criteria.
- Negotiation—an interest based negotiation where parties determine who is best placed to own and manage Crown land for optimal local and state benefits. Parties negotiate through an independently facilitated process to achieve agreement.
- Post negotiation—when agreement is reached it is formalised using ALAs or local land agreements (LLAs).