Wednesday 20 May 2015

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda and Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson have convened a high level meeting with Indigenous leaders to tackle the barriers to property rights after native title.

“This is an unprecedented meeting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders to tackle the challenges facing our communities once native title determinations have been made,” Commissioner Gooda said.

“Native title is only the starting point for our people in reclaiming land. The next step is being able to freely exercise our rights to promote economic development and build housing to the advantage of our communities.”

The two-day Indigenous Leaders Roundtable, which commenced on Tuesday in Broome, involves more than 40 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders who are experts in property rights and native title. Attorney-General George Brandis will also address today’s session and participate in the roundtable discussion.

“Property rights are central to human rights because they underpin the autonomy and security of individuals and communities,” Commissioner Wilson said.

“There is significant red tape that stops economic development and the development of housing, such as legal restrictions of land being used to raise finance.

“This roundtable is a positive step towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people leading reform to enjoy the full benefits of exercising property rights under native title and being able to participate in the rest of the economy like all other Australians.

“We are facilitating discussion between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders to better understand the legal and regulatory barriers that are holding communities back from reaching their full potential.

“This process will help to identify proposals for reform that will set native title free.”

Commissioner Gooda said any proposals from the Indigenous Leaders Roundtable would require the consent of native title holders before being implemented.

“This roundtable provides an opportunity for us to talk though the challenges and identify real solutions,” Commissioner Gooda said.

“We are seeking constructive reform that is respectful of native title and protects the inherit rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”