Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Reforms to Native Title Representative Bodies to benefit Indigenous Australians

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, today said reforms to recognition of Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRB) would benefit Indigenous Australians.

Mr Brough said the new arrangements, which come into effect on 1 July 2007, would ensure NTRBs were more effective and accountable.

"In the past a number of NTRBs have been plagued by serious administrative and financial difficulties significantly affecting their capacity to resolve native title claims," Mr Brough said.

"There is a large backlog of native title claims across Australia and this has created uncertainty not only for Indigenous people but business and government.

"The Australian Government provides significant funding for the delivery of services to native title claimants and replacing the previous system of open ended recognition with fixed terms will lead to better outcomes for native title claimants."

In determining the appropriate recognition periods for NTRBs, records of activities, the overall stability of the organisations and financial management were examined. Five NTRBs were offered the maximum 6-year recognition period because of their solid performance in this difficult area.

Mr Brough said those NTRBs receiving mid range terms had in the past been affected by poor performance or governance issues. If, in the future they can demonstrate continued high standards of performance, maximum terms may be granted.

"There will also been major changes to NTRBs in Queensland, with some of the smaller organisations which are unviable on their own, considering merging to make them more effective.

"Gurang, Central Queensland and Carpentaria Land Councils and Queensland South Native Title Services are in discussion about creating a new larger organisation that will provide a coordinated approach for claimants and native title holders.

"The aim is to have this new body operating from 1 July 2008. While there is still much detail to be worked out, there will be no forced redundancies or office closures.

"I look forward to working closely with NTRBs under these arrangements which will see better outcomes for Indigenous Australians," Mr Brough said.

A list of NTRBs and their new recognition periods is attached.

State NTRB Recommended recognition period (years)
WA    Kimberley Land Council 6
Yamatji Marlpa Barna Baba Maaja Aboriginal Corporation 4
Goldfields Land and Sea Council 3
South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council 1
NT  Northern Land Council 6
Central Land Council 6
SA Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (ALRM) * 1
QLD      Cape York Land Council 3
North Queensland Land Council 6
Carpentaria Land Council 1
Gurang Land Council 1
Central Queensland Land Council 1
Torres Strait Regional Authority 6

(Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland South are currently serviced by organisations funded under subsection 203FE(1) of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) which are not subject to NTRB recognition processes. The area currently covered by Ngaanyatjarra Council will operate under similar arrangements from 1 July 2007.)

* Under mutually agreed transitional arrangements, ALRM will only continue to operate as a NTRB for another year.