Historic roundtable on Indigenous property rights hosted by Notre Dame

Bruce Gorring; Tim Wilson; Anna Dwyer, Research Assistant in the Nulungu Research Institute; Associate Professor Sandra Wooltorton, Director of the Nulungu Research Institute; and Mick Gooda at the Indigenous Leaders Roundtable on the Broome Campus.

28 May 2015

More than 40 of the country’s most prominent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders gathered at The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Broome Campus on 19-20 May 2015, to map out a national agenda of Indigenous property rights to, ultimately, reflect the gains achieved by recent land rights and Native Title negotiations.

The Indigenous Leaders Roundtable was coordinated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda, and Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson, with support from the Nulungu Research Institute and Notre Dame’s Broome Campus. This was on the back of a trip to the Broome Campus in August 2014 by Mr Gooda to deliver the Nulungu Reconciliation Lecture on Indigenous constitutional recognition.

Other attendees at the Roundtable included Australia’s Attorney-General, George Brandis QC; Cape York leader, Noel Pearson; Reconciliation advocate and Professor at Notre Dame, Dr Patrick Dodson; Northern Land Council Chief Executive, Joe Morrison; National Native Title Tribunal President, Raelene Webb; and Northern Australia Land and Sea Management Alliance Chairman, Peter Yu.

Discussions surrounded the nature of Indigenous property rights across the country, with a focus on how to overcome government regulations, compensation troubles, legislative changes and, above all, maximise the gains from land rights and Native Title agreements.

Five sets of issues were identified during this discussion which would enable economic development in Indigenous communities. These included fungibility and Native Title; business development support; financing economic development within the Indigenous estate; compensation; and promoting Indigenous peoples’ rights to development.

“We have gone around and spoken to Aboriginal leaders about the challenges they faced and one issue that was raised was that of property rights,” Mr Wilson said.

“As a result, we’ve had more than 60 people come to this important meeting to talk about property rights’ issues, how their communities have been affected by these, and the need for reform to improve the outcomes for Aboriginal communities.

“I’ve often said that property rights are the forgotten human right and that is what has come out of this meeting. When you touch on such a critical issue that undermines economic security and participation in society, there is an overwhelming enthusiasm to talk about these issues in a constructive way to affect change.”

Mr Gooda said it was important to continue the dialogue on this issue in order to build sustainable housing which is necessary for the future of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Bruce Gorring, Research Coordinator in the Nulungu Research Institute, said the Indigenous Roundtable was not only a significant event for Indigenous people, but also for the University in upholding its commitment to reconciliation.

“Notre Dame’s Broome Campus is delighted to host such an important discussion with some of Australia’s leading Indigenous and human rights’ figures – one that will hopefully provide long-term benefits to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the nation,” Mr Gorring said.

“It is important to continue to this narrative so Australia’s Indigenous people can realise their potential for many years to come.”

To enquire further about courses on The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Broome Campus, please visit www.nd.edu.au/broome.

Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093; leigh.dawson@nd.edu.au