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Stronger Futures: Reform to community Living area legislation needed says CLC

Posted: Mon, February 20, 2012

 The Central Land Council is calling for comprehensive and urgent reform to legislation governing Community Living Areas (CLAs).

CLAs are small areas of land excised from pastoral leases for Aboriginal people who were unable to claim land under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act because their land was on a pastoral lease.

The CLC says while it supports Australian and Northern Territory Government efforts to formalise land tenure in Aboriginal communities, it is deeply concerned that quick fixes to NT legislation governing Community Living Areas (CLAs) could leave the Aboriginal landowners and other stakeholders vulnerable to uncertainty.

CLC Director David Ross said the present legislation didn’t allow leasing on CLAs other than for health, education, housing or financial services and then only with Ministerial consent.

“People who live on excisions have fought long and hard often for a tiny bit of land to live on. They have really suffered and they get even less services than other Aboriginal people because of this legislative and administrative problem.

“It really needs to be urgently and comprehensively fixed,’ he said.

“We have the situation where a new police station cannot be built in Imanpa because it was not possible for the Northern Territory Government to secure a lease within the community because of these restrictions associated with CLA title.

“At Lake Nash, a new power station was eventually built at a less than ideal distance away from the community for the same reasons.

“Similarly Epenarra obtained funding from the Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA) Stores Infrastructure Project but construction hasn’t been able to start.

There are around 80 CLAs in the CLC’s region including 10 larger communities like Lake Nash, Titjikala and Imanpa.

The CLC has made a submission on the need for comprehensive CLC reform to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs Inquiry into the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Bill 2011 and two related Bills.

The CLC's submission can be downloaded here

The CLC made another submission to the Inquiry as part of the Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory (APO NT) concerning the wider issues of the Stronger Futures Bill and the CLC will make comment on these separately.