A NSW Government website

Land parcel at Deer Vale returned to Aboriginal community

08 Jul 2024

The NSW Government has granted an Aboriginal land claim that will see a parcel of land located in the Northern Tablelands region returned to the local Aboriginal community.

The Dorrigo Plateau Aboriginal Land Council will take ownership of the 2.23-hectare parcel of land located in the small village of Deer Vale, west of Dorrigo.

The beautiful site in the Coffs Coast hinterland is predominately open grassland. The site will be returned as freehold land to the Dorrigo Plateau Aboriginal Land Council, who will work with the local Aboriginal community and Bellingen Shire Council to determine future use of the site.

Under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council and Local Aboriginal Land Councils have a right to lodge land claims on Crown land.

Land claims must then be assessed against non-discretionary statutory criteria in the Act, including whether the land was lawfully used or occupied at the time of the claim, or was needed for an essential public purpose.

The Act recognises the impact of past government decisions which resulted in the amount of land set aside for Aboriginal people progressively reduced without compensation, and a system by which some unused Crown land could be returned to Aboriginal ownership.

Dorrigo Plateau Aboriginal Land Council Chairperson Cathy Thomas said the local Aboriginal community is thrilled that this parcel of land is being returned to the local community.

“Our community is really excited that this land is being returned to us, ensuring its care and protection will be maintained for future generations,” Ms Thomas said.

“While we are still determining exactly how we will use this land into the future, it is critically important that we have access to country, so we can protect traditional resources and foster our deep connection to this place.”

Minister for Lands and Property Steve Kamper said returning land to local Aboriginal land councils helps support social, economic and cultural outcomes for Aboriginal communities.

“This beautiful plot of land in Deer Vale will now be returned to the local Aboriginal people, who will care and protect it for generations to come,” Minister Kamper said.

“This is another example how positive community outcomes can be delivered through the realisation of Aboriginal land rights.”