The NSW Government is doing an independent review of a program to help Aboriginal communities and local councils get maximum benefits from Crown Land.
Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Deputy Secretary of Crown Lands, Anne Skewes, said Senior Counsel Ms Chris Ronalds AO SC will conduct the review of the Land Negotiation Program to ensure it can operate as effectively as possible.
“The Land Negotiation Program involves voluntary negotiations with the NSW Government to transfer non-state significant Crown Land to the ownership of Local Aboriginal Land Councils and local government councils,” Ms Skewes said.
“The program aims to ensure that locally-significant Crown Land is held by the most appropriate organisation to achieve the most positive social, economic, cultural and environmental benefits for local communities.
“The Land Negotiation Program aims to give Aboriginal people greater involvement in decisions about the ownership and management of locally-significant Crown Land.
“The vesting of Crown Land to Local Aboriginal Land Councils can provide Aboriginal communities with economic, social and cultural benefits. This is consistent with the aims of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act.
“Local councils also have strong local knowledge to manage Crown Land in their communities for the benefit of residents, such as open space and local sporting grounds.”
The independent review by Senior Counsel Chris Ronalds will assess the Land Negotiation Program and provide recommendations on any potential improvements to its design to ensure it can best achieve its aims.
Ms Ronalds has a strong track record on First Nations affairs as a founding member of the Bar Association’s First Nations Committee 22 years ago.
She is also a member of the Indigenous Barristers Trust which supports First Nations barristers and law students, and has been a member of the Law Council of Australia’s Indigenous Issues Committee for 15 years.
As well as stakeholder consultations, the review is inviting community submissions. Details on how to lodge submissions are at: www.industry.nsw.gov.au/lands/what-we-do/our-work/landnegotiation/land-negotiation-program-review.
The review will also be on the NSW Government ‘Have Your Say’ website at www.nsw.gov.au/improving-nsw/have-your-say.”