Discussion Paper on Indigenous permit system released
A discussion paper on reforming the permit system that restricts the public’s access to some Indigenous lands has been released today by the Minister for Families Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough.
Mr Brough said the release of the departmental paper, inviting submissions, followed the announcement of a review of the legislative provisions for the Northern Territory permit system.
In the Northern Territory, the permit system operates under the Commonwealth’s Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act and the Northern Territory’s Aboriginal Land Act.
Legislation requiring permits to enter Aboriginal land in addition to normal trespass laws applies to almost half of the Northern Territory, some Aboriginal land in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland. Those wishing to enter these lands must apply for a written permit from the local community or the land council
"I am writing specifically to the Northern Territory Government and the four Northern Territory Land Councils inviting their submissions about this matter," Mr Brough said.
"My concern is that the permit system has created closed communities which are restricting the ability of individuals to interact with the wider community and furthermore to participate in the real economy.
"The permit system has not acted to protect vulnerable citizens, including women and children, and in fact makes scrutiny over dysfunctional communities more difficult.
"The reconsideration of permits complements reform of township leases in the Northern Territory, providing new opportunities and choice for Aboriginal people."
Mr Brough urged other jurisdictions to review their legislative provisions that allow for permits.
Interested parties are invited to make submissions to the discussion paper by the 30th of November 2006.
The discussion paper is available at www.oipc.gov.au or by writing to the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs at the following address.
PO Box 17
WODEN ACT 2606