A Land Rights Act NSW can be proud of

NSW Aboriginal Land Council Chair Roy Ah-SeeThe Land Rights network in New South Wales today celebrates the anniversary of one of themost progressive pieces of legislation ever passed by the NSW Parliament.

On 10 June 1983, the NSW Parliament passed the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983, creatinga process for the return of land to Aboriginal people and the establishment of land councils torepresent Aboriginal people in New South Wales.

NSW Aboriginal Land Council Chair Roy Ah-See said the Act and the achievements of theLand Rights network over the past 33 years were something everyone in New South Walescould be proud of.

“Today, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council is the largest member-based Aboriginal organisationin Australia with 23,000 members, providing leadership for a network of 120 Local AboriginalLand Councils and manages an asset base of more than $600 million.

Cr Ah-See paid tribute to the Land Rights legends of the 1970s and 1980s who fought for thebest Land Rights system in Australia.

“In the past year we lost Land Rights legends like former Chairs Kevin Cook and Tiga Bayles.It is their vision, leadership and tenacity that we celebrate today.

“Under the system of Land Rights they and others fought for, Local Aboriginal Land Councils inNew South Wales are able to claim Crown land that is unused or unneeded.

“Like any other owner of freehold title, Local Aboriginal Land Councils can buy, sell, or leaseland for the benefit of their members.

“Throughout the State, we have Local Aboriginal Land Councils engaged in propertydevelopment and international tourism ventures. In many regional towns and centres they arethe main providers of essential services.

“The NSW Aboriginal Land Council is also investing in the capacity of Local Aboriginal LandCouncils through a $16 million five-year economic development strategy which is providingstart-up capital and business development support for the network.

“The return of land to Aboriginal people has provided new opportunities to strengthen usculturally and spiritually and to provide our own revenue streams, jobs and trainingopportunities.

“The passage of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act in 1983 not only recognised pastdispossession of land but went further by providing a unique system ofcompensation that hasallowed Aboriginal people to pursue self-determination and economic independence.

Cr Ah-See said NSWALC was ready to meet the challenges of building a sustainable

economic base for Aboriginal people in New South Wales.

“The Land Rights network expects us to deliver for Local Aboriginal Land Councils by

providing leadership on economic development initiatives. It’s time for us to get on with the job

of turning those aspirations into employment and training for our mob.

“More Aboriginal people live in New South Wales than in any other State or Territory and

population increases will see Aboriginal people playing a greater part in the State’s society and


“The Land Rights network in New South Wales sees economic independence and self-

determination as the best way to close the gap on disadvantage and will continue to use land

as the vehicle to improve living standards for Aboriginal people.”

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