NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Better planning for Aboriginal communities

  • Date: 16.12.2022
  • Type: Departmental Media Release
  • Author: NSW Department of Planning and Environment

The Department of Planning and Environment is cutting red tape with a series of new decisions aimed at providing greater self-determination for Aboriginal communities and enabling them to reap the economic benefits of their land.

Executive Director of Local and Regional Planning Malcolm McDonald said a pilot program had been launched to ensure land is appropriately zoned to unlock housing and development opportunities.

“The first communities to benefit from the program have had land rezoned to allow Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs) to pursue new business ventures and affordable housing in Deniliquin, and seniors housing for Aboriginal elders in Griffith,” Mr McDonald said.

“We’ve also rezoned land at two sites in Balranald and Condobolin that are benefitting from the $141 million Roads to Home program, which ensures the right infrastructure is in place to support Aboriginal communities across NSW.”

Mr McDonald said the Department had also worked with Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) to finalise its Development Delivery Plan (DDP), which outlines how 31 sites could potentially be developed.

“This DDP sets out Darkinjung’s intentions for how the 31 sites could support future new homes, jobs, open space on the Central Coast,” he said.

“This final plan lays the foundation for Darkinjung’s land to be transformed, giving Aboriginal people on the Central Coast a stronger voice in deciding how their land is used and the ability to reap the economic rewards.”

Darkinjung Chairperson, Barry ‘BJ’ Duncan said this DDP is the culmination in years of work led by Darkinjung, which will benefit our community and provide a roadmap for other LALCs to activate their land.

“Once activated, these developments will be used to alleviate residential and industrial land shortages across the Central Coast, with the proceeds being used by Darkinjung to provide better life outcomes for Aboriginal people through the provision of affordable housing, sponsorships for our community, and scholarships for our children,” Mr Duncan said.

Darkinjung Chief Executive Officer, Brendan Moyle said the approval and gazetting of this DDP allows Darkinjung to strategically activate land, providing a pathway for the future economic prosperity of Darkinjung and the Central Coast Aboriginal community.

"Words cannot describe how important this is to the Central Coast and the broader Land Rights movement. We thank the Department and the Minister for their work on this which supports Aboriginal economic self-determination through LALCs, where the true power of Land Rights sits,” Mr Moyle said.

Detailed planning proposals and development applications for each site can be prepared for consultation, helping to make Darkinjung’s ambitions for the land a reality.

Other changes made to improve outcomes for Aboriginal communities across NSW include:

  • Removing the requirement for LALC land to be mapped in the Planning Systems State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) before a Development Delivery Plan can be approved; and
  • Giving the NSW Aboriginal Land Council the same access to the Aboriginal Lands SEPP as a LALC.

NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) Chief Executive Officer Yuseph Deen said NSWALC welcomes this positive improvement to NSW planning laws.

“NSWALC and Aboriginal communities have been advocating for improved planning pathways to unlock the value of returned lands, and we look forward to working with the NSW Government and LALCs on further planning reforms to get better social, cultural and economic land outcomes for Aboriginal communities,” Mr Deen said.

These changes are part of the NSW Government’s Aboriginal Land Planning Framework, which better aligns the planning system with the Aboriginal Land Rights Act to support strategic planning and help LALCs across NSW better utilise their land.

Any development will still be subject to a rigorous assessment and community consultation.