The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council wants to ensure self-determination is baked into a newly-released government plan to transfer national parks to Traditional Owners over the next 20 years.
The move would see close to 10 percent of the state recognised with native title through joint-management of national park estate.
NSW Environment and Heritage Minister James Griffin announced on Sunday consultation had begun, despite NSWALC saying it was only made aware of the plan days before it went public.
“More than 30 per cent of the NSW national parks estate is covered by joint management, but Aboriginal people currently hold title or native title to just over four per cent of it,” Mr Griffin said.
“This is putting Aboriginal land management and stewardship at the heart of our efforts to conserve our precious environment and care for Country.”
Mr Griffin said the move would provide economic opportunity and employment for Traditional Owners.
NSWALC chairman Danny Chapman said they would work with the government on the proposal.
“A number of our LALC’s currently hold title to National Parks on behalf of Aboriginal Owners under Joint Management arrangements,” he said.
“We want to see that any consultations are Aboriginal-led, enshrine self-determination and not Government determining what’s best for our people by creating division between our mob.
“There are significant matters and opportunities that need to be collectively worked through to ensure any future model advances the rights and interests of Aboriginal communities.”
NSW Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Franklin said the proposal was “historic” and the first of its kind.
Joint management plans exist in almost every state and territory, including in WA since 2011.
“Developing a new model for joint management is one way to make meaningful progress on improving outcomes for Aboriginal people and communities in NSW,” Mr Franklin said.
“This is about reconnecting people to country, aligning with native title processes and integrating Aboriginal knowledge in caring for country in the way they’ve been doing for tens of thousands of years.”
The NSW plan would transfer title to Traditional Owner groups, who would then lease the parks back at nominal rent to government.
It is expected the process will take up to two decades.
Consultation is expected to take 18 months.