- Consultation underway on proposed legislative changes to rightfully return land to Aboriginal people
- Removal of legislative barriers will open up social, cultural and economic opportunities for Aboriginal people
- Amendments will align divestment changes with contemporary policies and legislation
The McGowan Government is progressing a commitment to divest the Aboriginal Lands Trust (ALT) estate into the direct control of Aboriginal people and entities.
The ALT estate consists of 302 properties covering about 22 million hectares - about 8.7 per cent of Western Australia's landmass.
Consultation is now open on changes proposed to update parts of the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972 and remove limitations around divesting the ALT estate.
The changes will help maximise opportunities for Aboriginal land ownership and management, economic activity and improved outcomes for Aboriginal communities.
Specific changes will streamline the divestment of reserved lands, including allowing them to be returned to Aboriginal people, replacing outdated terms and more clearly defining consultation requirements for stakeholders and the ALT.
Feedback will inform the development of a draft Bill to bring divestment of the ALT estate in line with the contemporary Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy - Western Australia 2021-2029 and the Commonwealth's Native Title Act 1993.
The initial consultation phase will close on Tuesday May 31, 2022. Further consultation will be held to finalise the draft Bill for introduction into Parliament, in due course.
More information is available at https://www.wa.gov.au/aapa-act
Comments attributed to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Dr Tony Buti:
"The divestment of the vast Aboriginal Lands Trust estate into the control of Aboriginal people is a priority of the McGowan Government.
"The Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972 is outdated and needs reforming to better meet the needs of Aboriginal people today.
"The commitment to divest the ALT estate aims to use land tenure to support lasting social, cultural and economic opportunities for Aboriginal people.
"Importantly, these proposed amendments have been driven by what Aboriginal people and communities have told us are the key obstacles to divestment.
"This is an important opportunity to amend a 50-year-old Act to ensure it meets the divestment aspirations of Aboriginal people and aligns with Commonwealth native title laws.
"I encourage Aboriginal people, communities, and relevant entities and corporations to participate in the consultation process and help inform the proposed legislative changes."
Minister's office - 6552 6400