The Coalition Government is unlocking new opportunities for economic development for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations by removing legal caveats over the assets of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.
Launched today, the Commonwealth Rights and Interests in Indigenous Property project will allow Indigenous organisations to apply to have caveats removed over Commonwealth grant-funded properties that they own.
This will allow the more flexible use of these assets and support Indigenous organisations to capitalise on their economic potential.
The Commonwealth currently holds caveats over 2,800 grant-funded property titles owned by over 400 Indigenous organisations, largely relating ATSIC era assets.
Up until last year, legislation stopped the Government from removing its interests in these properties unless they were being sold, transferred or mortgaged.
The old legislation meant ATSIC property grants were treated differently from other grants and that Commonwealth Government agencies had different approaches for dealing with the disposal of property.
Legislation passed by the Coalition Government last year will deliver autonomy and local control for Indigenous organisations that can now apply at any time to have a caveat on their property lifted permanently.
Minister Scullion said the Government was working hard to ensure Indigenous communities are able to reap the full economic benefits attached to their land.
“In supporting Indigenous organisations to apply to have caveats removed over their assets, the Government is ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are given the local control and local empowerment to drive their own economic future,” Minister Scullion said.
“A national consultation process was undertaken to develop the guidelines to manage this exciting new policy, with more than 100 organisations participating. We listened and now we are acting.
”This builds on the Coalition Government’s broader initiatives to stimulate economic growth in Indigenous communities, including the Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP).
The IPP has lifted Commonwealth purchasing from 30 Indigenous businesses winning just $6.2 million in 2012-13 to 1470 Indigenous businesses winning $1.83 billion of contracts since the introduction of the IPP in July 2015.
The cumulative effect of efforts of governments and the entrepreneurial spirit within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders communities has led to a 30 per cent increase in the size of the Indigenous business sector since the 2011 Census.
An independent Governance Committee has guided the Government implementation of this important new policy including the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, Aboriginal Housing Victoria and a number of peak Indigenous organisations.
NSW Aboriginal Land Council chief executive officer James Christian said the organisation welcomed the changes.
“Given its potential to assist with ongoing self-determination, the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council, strongly supports the Commonwealth Rights and Interests in Indigenous Property project,” Mr Christian said.
“As NSWALC embarks on an ambitious agenda as detailed in the NSWALC Strategic Plan 2018-2022, it’s important to be working in partnership with the Commonwealth Government and Minister Scullion to ensure Indigenous communities are not burdened by unnecessary red tape.”
Anticipated outcomes of the project include: ·
- Providing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and organisations with greater autonomy and flexibility over their grant-funded property;
- Providing increased opportunities for economic development within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities;
- Reducing the administrative burden and regulatory requirements for Indigenous organisations and government; and
- Providing similar treatment of similar assets for Indigenous organisations and communities.
Organisations can apply for caveat removal from Monday 15 April.
The eligibility guidelines, further information and the application form can be found at https://www.pmc.gov.au/indigenous-affairs/commonwealth-caveated-property