Media release | 25 August 2022
Two Aboriginal land claims have been approved at Walgett and Warialda in north western NSW.
More than 10 hectares of Crown land on the Namoi River will be returned to the local Aboriginal community after the NSW Government granted an Aboriginal land claim to Walgett Local Aboriginal Land Council.
The parcel of land, 2km north west of Walgett, is a 10.76 hectare triangular-shaped block of undeveloped bushland, accessible by four-wheel drive via bush tracks.
Chair of the Walgett Local Aboriginal Land Council Uncle George Fernando said the local Aboriginal community was pleased with the land grant and was looking forward to using the riverside block for recreation, cultural purposes and perhaps grazing.
"We want to go out there with the children and fish, maybe camp there overnight," Uncle George said.
"We could run some cattle on it or goats, depending on what’s suitable."
At Warialda, a block of land big enough for four large houses will be returned to the local Aboriginal community after the NSW Government granted an Aboriginal land claim to Moree Local Aboriginal Land Council.
The 0.41 hectare block is undeveloped bushland bordering a house on Plunkett Street at the edge of town.
Moree Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO Steve McIntosh said the local Aboriginal community was very pleased with the land grant and the land council would investigate the site to decide its future use.
"It’s still early days but we’ll be looking at how we can best use the land to benefit the Aboriginal community,” Mr McIntosh said.
"We’ll look at the cultural heritage of the site and possible cultural uses or economic uses. With the housing crisis we’ll also see if we can use the block to develop housing for Aboriginal people, which could also involve working with a private enterprise."
Under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, Aboriginal land claims on Crown land are assessed by the Department of Planning and Environment – Crown Lands against statutory criteria, including whether the land is lawfully used or occupied.
If the land is found to be claimable it is returned to the Aboriginal land council as freehold land.
Crown Lands Executive Director of Land Strategy Michael Ramalli said the department was working to accelerate the processing of more Aboriginal land claims.
"The returning of land to Aboriginal land councils via the land claims process supports economic, social and cultural outcomes for Aboriginal communities," Mr Ramalli said.
"Crown Lands is working to process more land claims, prioritise the most important claims for land councils to help them achieve benefits, and also negotiate Aboriginal land agreements to settle bulk land claims."