Overview and Aims

Legal recognition of traditional laws and customs and traditional rights over land and sea are fundamental to the self-determination and advancement of our people. The Native Title Program recognises the importance of Native Title rights by performing its statutory functions through the Native Title Office as the Native Title Representative Body (NTRB) under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth).

The TSRA has been recognised as the regional NTRB since 1996. The TSRA, through the Native Title Office, is responsible for the Native Title Program and the performance of the TSRA’s Native Title Act functions. The objective of the Native Title Office / NTRB is:

To be recognised as an organisation providing high quality and culturally appropriate professional services to Native Title Holders and claimants through consulting with and effectively representing Traditional Owners in the Torres Strait region in the performance of our functions under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth).

The Native Title Program will continue to facilitate the securing of legal recognition of Native Title to land and waters in the Torres Strait, and the proper regard for Native Title rights in relation to all projects affecting Torres Strait land and waters.

The program aims are to:

  • assist Traditional Owners obtain legal recognition of Native Title over land and sea in the Torres Strait region
  • manage and legally protect Native Title rights
  • build the capacity of Native Title Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs).

Regional Goal

Protect, maintain and progress Native Title Rights and recognition over the region’s land and sea country.

Regional Issues

  • The Native Title Sea Claim Part A determination has potential to generate economic development opportunities for Traditional Owners in the region to utilise new commercial rights.
  • Need to finalise all Native Title claims and transfer of deeds of grant in trust (DOGITs) to PBCs (there were three active claims as of 31 December 2013).
  • Need to enhance the capacity of PBCs in the region to become autonomous, active and self-sustaining (there were 20 PBCs in the region on 31 December 2013).

Program Outcomes

  • [NT-1] Changes to Native Title and Fisheries legislation which recognise the commercial rights as part of the Native Title rights of Traditional Owners under the Torres Strait Sea Claim Part A determination.
  • [NT-2] Successfully negotiated Future Acts and Indigenous Land Use Agreements.
  • [NT-3] Native Title claims are successfully determined.
  • [NT-4] PBCs understand and meet their responsibilities under the Native Title Act.

Benefits

2014 – 2018

  • Economic development opportunities flow to Traditional Owners from the Regional Sea Claim Part A determination.
  • Native Title claims are resolved.
  • Money and other benefits flow into PBCs.
  • PBCs understand and meet their compliance responsibilities.
  • Appropriate support mechanisms are provided to PBCs when DOGITs are transferred.

Future Development Plans

  • All Native Title claims in the region are settled.
  • PBCs have greater autonomy in managing Native Title, sea and land for their communities.

Performance Measures

  • Number of changes to Native Title and Fisheries legislation that reflect the commercial rights of Traditional Owners.
  • Number of ILUAs that have compensation or other benefits as part of the ILUA terms.
  • Number of reported non-compliance matters involving PBCs.
  • Number of Native Title determination claims successfully determined.
  • Number of DOGITs transferred to PBCs with appropriate support mechanisms.

Projects and Initiatives

The Native Title Program has a mandate from the TSRA Board to undertake the following projects and initiatives:

  • progress and successfully negotiate ILUAs
  • progress and successfully negotiate Native Title claims
  • perform the functions of a Native Title Representative Body under the Native Title Act
  • develop proposals regarding legislation that impacts on Native Title.

Contribution to the Closing the Gap Targets

The Native Title Program will contribute to the following Closing the Gap targets:

  • Target #1: close the gap in life expectancy within a generation
  • Target #6: halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade.

Contribution to COAG National Partnership Agreement Indigenous-specific Outcomes

The Native Title Program will contribute to the following National Partnership Agreement Indigenous-specific outcomes:

  • Indigenous communities are empowered to participate in policy making and program implementation
  • Indigenous communities are represented through credible consultation / governance mechanism
  • Connecting the way government agencies work in remote areas (the governance of governments) and developing community capacity.

Annex D-1 Program Map – Native Title

A chart illustrating Program Map - Native Title

Annex D-2 Native Title Program – Overview

Annex D-2 Native Title Program – Overview

Overview and aims Outcomes Benefits Performance measures Initiatives
The Native Title Program will undertake projects and activities which fulfil the regional goal:
Protect, maintain and progress Native Title Rights and recognition over the region’s land and sea country.
The program aims are to:
  • assist Traditional Owners obtain legal recognition of Native Title over land and sea in the Torres Strait region
  • manage and legally protect Native Title rights
  • build the capacity of Native Title Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs).
  • [NT-1] Changes to Native Title and Fisheries legislation which recognise the commercial rights as part of the Native Title rights of Traditional Owners under the Torres Strait Sea Claim Part A determination.
  • [NT-2] Successfully negotiated Future Acts and Indigenous Land Use Agreements.
  • [NT-3] Native title claims are successfully determined.
  • [NT-4] PBCs understand and meet their responsibilities under the Native Title Act.
2014 – 2018
  • Economic development opportunities flow to Traditional Owners from the Regional Sea Claim Part A determination.
  • Native title claims are resolved.
  • Money and other benefits flow into PBCs.
  • PBCs understand and meet their compliance responsibilities.
  • Appropriate support mechanisms are provided to PBCs when DOGITs are transferred.
Future Development Plans
  • All Native Title claims in the region are settled.
  • PBCs have greater autonomy in managing Native Title and land in their communities.
  • Number of changes to Native Title and Fisheries legislation that reflect the commercial rights of Traditional Owners.
  • Number of ILUAs that have compensation or other benefits as part of the ILUA terms.
  • Number of reported non-compliance matters involving PBCs.
  • Number of Native Title determination claims successfully determined.
  • Number of DOGITs transferred to PBCs with appropriate support mechanisms.
The Native Title Program has a mandate to undertake the following initiatives:
  • progress and successfully negotiate ILUAs
  • progress and successfully negotiate Native Title claims
  • perform the functions of a Native Title Representative Body under the Native Title Act
  • develop proposals regarding legislation that impacts on Native Title.

Annex D-3 Native Title Program – Benefits

Annex D-3 Native Title Program – Benefits

Benefits Performance measures Targets Target groups
Economic development opportunities flow to Traditional Owners from the Regional Sea Claim Part A determination. Number of changes to Native Title and Fisheries legislation that reflect the commercial rights of Traditional Owners. 100 per cent of the changes made to Native Title and Fisheries legislation reflect the commercial rights of Traditional Owners. Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal Native Title holders in the region.
Money and other benefits flow into PBCs. Number of ILUAs that have compensation or other benefits as part of the ILUA terms. 100 per cent of ILUAs registered lead to compensation or other benefits. Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people; PBCs and communities.
PBCs understand and meet their compliance responsibilities. Number of reported non-compliance matters involving PBCs. 100 per cent of compliance matters are referred for resolution within 20 working days. Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people; PBCs and communities.
Native title claims are resolved. Number of Native Title determination claims successfully determined. Four remaining claims are completed by 2018. Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people; PBCs and communities.
Appropriate support mechanisms are provided to PBCs when DOGITs are transferred. Number of DOGITs transferred to PBCs with appropriate support mechanisms. Thirteen remaining DOGITs are transferred with appropriate support within the life of the Development Plan. Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people; PBCs and communities.