Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council (Darkinjung) has welcomed the release of a Consultation Paper by the NSW Government containing planning measures to help Darkinjung achieve better economic outcomes from its land.
Darkinjung is the first Local Aboriginal Land Council in NSW to develop a “delivery framework” with the NSW Department of Planning. The Darkinjung Delivery Framework (DDF) Consultation Paper proposes eight inter-related actions to help Darkinjung, the largest non-government landholder on the Central Coast, develop its land.
“The release of this package is an historic moment in the journey to self-determination of Aboriginal people on the Central Coast,” said Darkinjung Chairperson, Matthew West. NSW Planning described the Consultation Paper as “a first for the state” and invited the Central Coast Community to have its say on the Darkinjung Delivery Framework (DDF). Central Coast Coordinator General, Lee Shearer, said the measures were leading the way in their breadth, depth and ambition to bring about positive outcomes for Aboriginal people that would benefit the entire region.
“The Regional Plan recognises that encouraging Aboriginal people to gain economic benefit from their land will support broader regional development, environmental and social outcomes,” Shearer said. “We have worked closely with Darkinjung to develop the Delivery Framework,” she said. “This is a test case that could potentially be rolled out to Aboriginal Land Councils all over the state.” The DDF Consultation Paper’s actions involve education, collaboration, revised processes and legal change.
Key proposals include a Darkinjung Development Delivery Plan (DDDP) which would be a strategic plan to recognise the development pipeline for Darkinjung land. A State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) would then be put in place to legally recognise the DDDP. A Ministerial Direction would then be needed to link the DDDP to the planning proposal process. Other key measures would include a Memorandum of Understanding between the NSW Department of Planning, Darkinjung and, potentially, Central Coast Council; and strategic conservation planning. Shearer said Darkinjung’s planning and development proposals would still be subject to all normal assessment processes and approvals for development. Darkinjung Chairman, Matthew West, said he applauded the NSW Government for developing such a bold set of initiatives that could transform the ability for Aboriginal communities to achieve economic selfdetermination from their land.
“These are profound measures with the potential to bring about positive outcomes for our people for generations to come,” West said. NSW Planning has consulted with other Aboriginal stakeholders to develop the Consultation Paper, including Guringai Aboriginal Tribal Link Corporation, Barang Regional Alliance Central Coast, NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs, and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council. The DDF Consultation Paper implements a key direction of the Central Coast Regional Plan 2036 to strengthen the economic selfdetermination of Aboriginal communities. “We are very pleased that the NSW Government has recognised the significant role that Darkinjung plays in not just delivering outcomes for Aboriginal people, but for all people of the Central Coast,” West said. “As the largest nonGovernment landholder in the region, Darkinjung supports the whole community in a variety of ways as a provider of jobs, education, culture and lifestyle,” he said.
“I would like to acknowledge the hard work and expertise of the Coordinator General for the Central Coast, Lee Shearer, and her Gosford based team at the Department of Planning and Environment, for crafting such a transformational package and consulting closely with us throughout the process.” Darkinjung is one of 120 Local Aboriginal Land Councils in NSW established under the Aboriginal Land Rights (ALR) Act 1983. The ALR Act was passed by the NSW Parliament to establish a network of Aboriginal Land Councils to acquire and manage land as an economic base for Aboriginal communities, as compensation for historic dispossession, and in recognition of their ongoing disadvantage.
The 2016 Inquiry into Economic Development in Aboriginal Communities by the NSW Parliament’s Standing Committee on State Development, recommended that the planning system needed to better accommodate aspirations of the ALR Act. West said Darkinjung’s boundaries aligned with those of the Central Coast Local Government Area, and its landholdings extended from the Hawkesbury River in the south to Catherine Hill Bay in the north. “Our land holdings have previously been classified as Crown Land, and the zoning has been difficult to work with. “At times, there have been no real planning controls attached to the land.
“We also hold environmental land on the urban fringe, and the Central Coast is going to struggle to provide housing to its growing population if we cannot develop that land. “There is a misunderstanding that Darkinjung is just another land developer,” West said. “Our role is to go about providing benefits to the Aboriginal community to be self-determined,” he said. The development of a Darkinjung campus of Barker College, that has achieved 100 per cent conversion of students to the Sydney Barker Campus, was one example of Darkinjung’s achievements, West said. “We are a non-profit organisation, so any proceeds made from land development go back into the community,” he said. The land council also has an extensive sports sponsorship program, and sponsored the first Aboriginal to ever undertake an internship with the Disney Corporation.
They also run a funeral fund to assist community members facing Sorry Business, and a community bus. “All services are supported from development of our land, so it is really about community,” he said. West said Darkinjung was a culturally conscious developer with a charter to enhance and strengthen both the environment and Aboriginal heritage of its lands. He said mineral extraction on Darkinjung land was also excluded under the Land Rights Act. Housing and youth employment are the “next two major frontiers for Darkinjung”, West said. “We want to make sure we can house all our members when they need a home and we want to take Barker College from one to three campuses, he said. The DDF Consultation Paper is on public exhibition until 5pm Friday, December 14.
Source: Media release, Nov 16 Ben Mah-Chut, Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council Media release, Nov 19 Matthew Porter, NSW Planning Interview, Nov 19 Matt West, Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council