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Home > Land > Land Facts > 06. More about managing Aboriginal reserves and secure title

More about managing Aboriginal reserves and secure title

What are Management Plans?

A reserve’s Management Body may want to draw up a Management Plan to deal with conservation, the environment or some community issue. In some cases, the Management Body may be required by the Minister for Lands to do that.

What part does ALT play in managing reserves?

The ALT is authorised by Management Orders to care, control and manage a large number of Aboriginal reserves. It also has responsibilities under the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972.

What is DPI’s job in this?

DPI administers the Land Administration Act for the Minister for Lands. It carries out the legal and administrative work for creating Crown reserves, amending them (for example, by upgrading reserves to 'A' classification, or changing reserve boundaries), and when appropriate, selling Crown reserves.

What is the Aboriginal community’s role?

When the care, control and management of a reserve (Management Order) is accepted by an Aboriginal organisation that Body takes over the same responsibility for the land as ALT had (as the old Management Body). This includes the new Management Body ensuring that where there is an existing lease ensuring that its conditions are followed and possibly issuing new leases where a power to lease is included in the Management Orders.

Will Aboriginal reserves be secure forever?

If there is ever a need to change a reserve, it is done through consultation and by agreement with the Aboriginal communities concerned. A number of things might influence the status of reserves over a long period. For example, there could be new State planning requirements, pressures on land use and changes in government policy. This means no guarantee can be given that an Aboriginal reserve – or any type of reserve – or any other type of land for that matter – will be secure forever.

Some reserves can be given an “A” classification that gives added protection against the reserve being changed in some way, because it requires that any changes be approved by both Houses of Parliament. National parks and conservation reserves have an “A” classification. So do some Aboriginal reserves.

There is another level of protection for certain Aboriginal reserves held by the ALT. Aboriginal reserves proclaimed under the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act have restricted access for miners or the public. Those groups can get access only by applying to the Minister for Indigenous Affairs and/or the ALT for a special entry permit. Once a reserve has been protected that way, the protection can only be changed by the approval of both Houses of Parliament.

Management Orders are made by the Minister for Lands and they set out the rights and duties of the Management Body. The Management Orders can include a power to lease (rent out) the reserve. Where there is a power to lease the reserve, any lease given by the Management Body must be consistent with the purpose of the reserve.

For example, the ALT holds the Management Orders for a large number of reserves for the “use and benefit of Aboriginal people” with, in the majority of cases, power to lease. Management Orders cannot be used as security for a loan, but any leases given under Management Orders could be used as security if the Minister for Lands approves.

Last modified: 03 May 2010
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