Aboriginal land return process to be reviewed, paper released

Jacquie Petrusma
Jacquie Petrusma

The state government has used International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples to release a discussion paper on how the process governing land hand-backs to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community can be improved.

The paper, entitled Improving the model for returning land to the Aboriginal community, seeks to identify barriers to returning land and to improve the land return process.

It highlights the potential for Tasmania to recognise Aboriginal rights to sea and freshwater country.

Over the years, the Tasmanian government has handed back 55,617 hectares of Crown land to the Aboriginal community, including culturally significant sites like Oyster Cove, Cape Barren Island and part of Bruny Island.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jacquie Petrusma said the review was a “crucial” element in the government’s bid to reset Tasmania’s relationship with its Aboriginal population.

“The return of land to Tasmania’s Aboriginal people … has been an important way to progress reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Tasmanians,” Ms Petrusma said.

Ms Petrusma also noted that the government would be providing additional funding to the Tasmanian Regional Aboriginal Communities Alliance for the remainder of 2018-19.

The state’s Department of Communities is calling for public submissions in response to the paper.

Face-to-face consultation sessions will be available for Aboriginal community groups and other key stakeholders.

Submissions close on September 20.