Tenure is the system for determining rights to use and enjoy land.
Changes to land tenure arrangements in remote Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal town-based reserves are needed to improve essential, municipal and housing services and to create economic and social development opportunities.
The State Government will make tenure changes progressively in remote Aboriginal communities and town-based reserves located on Crown land to:
- support improvements to essential and municipal services
- assist the supply and management of housing
- facilitate economic and social development.
The underlying tenure for about 180 of Western Australia's 274 remote Aboriginal communities and all of the State's 37 town-based reserves is either a Crown reserve or unallocated Crown land.
Most of the Crown reserves are held by a single statutory authority, the Aboriginal Lands Trust (ALT), under the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972 (WA). ALT estates are divested to Aboriginal land holders, however few have been successfully divested. There are significant, interrelated barriers to the divestment, including:
- no entity willing or able to accept the appropriate land tenure
- substantial current or future liabilities on the estate
- difficulties resolving native title issues
- very long (up to 99-year) leases granted over the estate.
Any proposed changes would need to comply with the Native Title Act 1993 and involve negotiations with native title holders or applicants, as well as existing tenure holders and residents.