Yass Valley Council has developed a new process to handle the increasing number of Aboriginal land claims in the local government area.
There were more than 30,000 unprocessed Aboriginal land claims with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment as of June 30, 2018 and the council said it's receiving "increasingly frequent requests" for information relating to those claims.
Each time an Aboriginal land claim is lodged and investigated by the department, the council is required to show if it has an interest in the land.
That includes if the land is occupied, required for an essential public purpose or for residential land.
If it's not, the Crown Land is returned to Aboriginal people as compensation for past dispossession of their land.
The council's new process aims "to ensure parcels of land with significance to the local community are given sufficient consideration," a report to councillors at their September 25 ordinary meeting said.
"The final decision by the department ... may have a significant impact on the community."
Just recently, the Onerwal Local Aboriginal Land Council in Yass was granted a 3076 square metre parcel (shown in the photo above) of land between Wellington and Queen Streets in Binalong.
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No evidence could be found of an existing or proposed use or occupation for an essential public purpose on the plot of land in Binalong, the council said.
The Onerwal Local Aboriginal Land Council is considering its future potential uses, according to the council.
Under the new process, the council's staff will review any claims against the following questions:
- Is the parcel of land used for a community purpose?
- Is the parcel of land proposed or intended for an essential public purpose?
- Is the parcel of land greater than 20 hectares in size?
- Is the parcel of land within a village or town?
If the answer is yes, the claim will be presented to the council for consideration. If the response is no, the department will be advised that the council has no interest in the land.
The council's acting general manager Chris Berry said the new process wouldn't delay the processing time of an Aboriginal land claim.
The government requests the council provides information within 14 days when investigating a claim.
All councillors were in favour of the new process at the meeting.
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