The Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (the Act) is important legislation that recognises the rights of Aboriginal people in NSW. The legislation recognises that land in NSW was traditionally owned and occupied by Aboriginal people, and is of spiritual, social, cultural and economic importance. Land claims can be made by Local Aboriginal Land Councils and by the NSW Aboriginal Land Council on their behalf.
The Office of the Registrar of the Act, in the Department of Premier and Cabinet NSW, has a statutory role in maintaining the register of Aboriginal land claims. The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is responsible for investigating Aboriginal land claims against statutory criteria outlined in the Act. Crown land that is not being lawfully used or occupied, is not needed for an essential public purpose, and is not impacted by Native Title can be granted through this process.
Publicly available data indicate there are over 35,000 unprocessed Aboriginal land claims. This audit will consider how effectively the responsible agencies are administering and facilitating the Aboriginal land claims process.
Audit objective and criteria
The objective of this audit is to assess whether the relevant agencies are effectively facilitating and administering Aboriginal land claim processes.
The relevant agencies are the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Department of Premier and Cabinet NSW, and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council.
To address this objective we will answer the following questions:
- Do these agencies effectively coordinate activities and information to facilitate Aboriginal land claim processes?
- Are these agencies effectively administering their roles in the Aboriginal land claim process?
Key areas of focus for this audit include information sharing, coordination and governance around the Aboriginal land claim process. This process includes activities related to land claim lodgement, registration, assessment, determination and transfer.
In assessing the effectiveness of these processes, our considerations will include how well Local Aboriginal Land Councils are supported to participate and how well activities align with the intent of the Act.
The audit will not involve a reassessment of particular land claim determinations.
Expected tabling date of this report: first half of 2022.
How to contribute to this audit
We are open to contributions related to this audit. Anyone can make a contribution, and we particularly value information or views that relate to the focus areas of this audit.
Contributions will be accepted until 1 November 2021.
To make a contribution, click on the button in the left hand menu with 'Contribute to this audit' in red text.
To attach files to your contribution, please upload file then click on file name to include your attachment.
The Auditor-General cannot question the merits of government policy objectives. The Auditor-General focuses on assessing whether activities undertaken by government authorities are efficient, effective, economical and in compliance with the law.
We will consider your contribution in the context of the role of the Audit Office, other audit evidence and its relevance to the topic, and may not reference it in the tabled report.
We will not publish your name or other identifying details, or your contribution, in our reports or on our website.
For more information on our confidentiality obligations, please visit Our Confidentiality and reporting obligations for contributions page.