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Indigenous leaders seek to enable economic development

Aboriginal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice
Indigenous Leaders Roundtable, Broome

Photo: Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson; Patrick Dodson, Chair, Nyama Buru Yawuru; Attorney-General George Brandis; and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders have called on Government to work with them on pursuing economic development on native title land and commit resources to this process.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda and Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson convened a meeting of Indigenous leaders in Broome this week to explore the challenges and opportunities of property rights after native title.

Participants of the Indigenous Leaders Roundtable determined that the Australian Human Rights Commission should lead and facilitate ongoing dialogue on these issues.

“Many participants of the roundtable voiced their disappointment in what the native title system has delivered in the past twenty years,” Commissioner Gooda said.

“They expressed concern about the limited outcomes from current processes for recognising and protecting our peoples' rights to land and resources, citing the closure of WA communities as an example.”

Commissioner Wilson said the Australian Human Rights Commission would continue to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders to progress reform.

“We will represent the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Canberra and to the nation to advance respect for your property rights and economic development outcomes. We will represent what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples achieve and to remove the obstacles that stop self determination being realised,” Commissioner Wilson said.

“We call on Government to also work with us and to recognise the importance of property rights in achieving economic development for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

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

“We are committed towards achieving constructive reform that is respectful of native title and protects the inherent rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” he said.

Attorney-General George Brandis also attended the roundtable on Wednesday to hear from participants their concerns about native title and property rights.

“We appreciate the Attorney-General attending and genuinely listening to the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Commissioner Gooda said.

Commissioner Wilson said "we hope that the participation of the Attorney-General in this meeting is a sign of constructive engagement in the future on these issues". 

"The meeting expressed a clear intention to continue their dialogue with government and we welcome the Attorney-General's agreement to do so,” Commissioner Wilson said.

The Indigenous Leaders Roundtable called on Government to engage with them on the following issues:

  • Enabling communities to build on their underlying communal title to create opportunities for economic development.
  • Ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have the governance and risk management skills and capacity to successfully engage in business and manage their estates.
  • Financing economic development within the Indigenous estate, including developing financial products to underwrite economic development.
  • Rectifying the existing unfair processes for compensation for extinguishment of native title and considering how addressing unfinished business could leverage economic development opportunities.
  • Promoting opportunities for development on Indigenous land including identifying options to provide greater access to resources on the Indigenous estate.

For more information or to read the roundtable communique visit https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/rights-and-freedoms/projects/indigenous-leaders-roundtable-economic-development

Photos from the Indigenous Leaders Roundtable

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