Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972

The State Government is working on changes to the Act to open up more social, cultural and economic opportunities for Aboriginal people through divestment of the Aboriginal Lands Trust estate.

The State Government is committed to divesting the Aboriginal Lands Trust (ALT) estate into the direct control of Aboriginal people and entities. For this to happen and to ensure the best possible divestment opportunities for Aboriginal people, changes need to be made to the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972 (the Act). 

An amendment proposal to update parts of the Act to remove the legislative barriers for divesting the ALT estate will maximise opportunities for direct Aboriginal land ownership and management, economic activity and improved outcomes for Aboriginal communities.  

The proposed amendments will:

  • bring divestment under the Act in line with the contemporary objectives of the Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy – Western Australia 2021-2029 and the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993
  • allow the vesting of Part III reserved lands to be placed with an Aboriginal person or entity
  • streamline the divestment of Part III reserved lands
  • replace outdated terms to clearly define Aboriginal stakeholders
  • provide clarity for the Aboriginal Lands Trust in exercising its duty to consult.

Consultation

The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage is consulting with Aboriginal people and other relevant groups on the proposed changes. 

Feedback from the consultation will be used to help prepare a draft Bill. A further round of consultation will be held on the content of the draft Bill, which will be introduced into Parliament in due course.

Have your say by visiting the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act Consultation. Consultation closes 10 June 2022.

Live stream event

The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage held a live stream consultation session on Wednesday 20 April 2022 to provide an overview of the amendments proposed to the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972, and an opportunity to provide feedback and inform the drafting of the amendments.

Live stream video recording link

The Bill

The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage is currently undertaking consultation on proposed amendments to the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972.  Feedback from the consultation will be used to help prepare a draft Bill. A further round of consultation will be held on the content of the draft Bill, which will be introduced into Parliament in due course.

Indicative steps for the progression of the Bill

Stakeholder consultations

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Prepare draft Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act Amendment Bill

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Further stakeholder consultation on the form of the draft Bill

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Finalise Bill

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Introduction to Parliament

More information

To register your interest in participating in the consultation or to receive updates on the project, please email aapa-act@dplh.wa.gov.au

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972 and why does it need to be amended?

The Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act was enacted in 1972 to provide consultation and other services for the economic, social and cultural advancement of Western Australia’s Aboriginal people. The Act established four statutory bodies:

  • Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority
  • Aboriginal Advisory Council
  • Aboriginal Affairs Coordinating Committee
  • Aboriginal Lands Trust.   

The initial objective of the Act – to control and oversee the welfare of Aboriginal people – is no longer fit-for-purpose nor does it reflect the modern day objectives of Government and the Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy – Western Australia 2021-2029.

Proposed amendments to update parts of the Act to remove the legislative barriers to divestment will maximise opportunities for direct Aboriginal land ownership and management, economic activity and improved outcomes for Aboriginal communities.  
 

What is the Aboriginal Lands Trust estate?

The Aboriginal Lands Trust (ALT) estate refers to land owned or managed either separately or jointly by the Aboriginal Lands Trust and the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority.

The ALT estate consists of 302 properties covering some 22 million hectares, or about 8.7 per cent of the landmass of Western Australia. Both the Aboriginal Lands Trust and the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority hold parcels of land in freehold, leasehold, as a vested reserve under the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972 or a managed reserve under the Land Administration Act 1997.

An estimated 12,000 people live on the ALT estate in 143 permanent Aboriginal settlements, ranging from those with larger populations comparative to regional towns, to small family settlements. 

Almost all the ALT estate is over land subject to a positive determination of native title or a registered native title claim.

What is divestment?

Divestment is the process of returning land currently owned or managed by the Aboriginal Lands Trust and the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority into the direct control of Aboriginal people and entities.

The goal of divestment is to utilise land tenure to support lasting social, cultural and economic opportunities for Aboriginal people.

What are the proposed amendments?

The proposed amendments to the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972 are limited to removing the legislative barriers to divesting the ALT estate. They aim to maximise opportunities for direct Aboriginal land ownership and management, economic activity and improved outcomes for Aboriginal communities.

Specifically, the amendments will:

  • align the objectives of the Act with the contemporary objectives of the Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy – Western Australia 2021-2029 and the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993
  • allow the vesting of Part III reserved lands to be placed with an Aboriginal person or entity
  • streamline the divestment of Part III reserved lands
  • replace outdated terms to clearly define Aboriginal stakeholders
  • provide clarity for the Aboriginal Lands Trust in exercising its duty to consult.

A broader review of the Act is being undertaken concurrently with the amendments.
 

What are the legislative barriers to divestment?

The legislative barriers to divestment are detailed in Fact Sheet 3: Legislative Barriers to Divestment and Proposed Solutions.

What is outside of the scope of the proposed amendments?

The following parts of the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972 are outside of the scope of the proposed amendments:

  • composition and functions of the Aboriginal Advisory Council of Western Australia
  • composition and functions of the Aboriginal Affairs Coordinating Committee
  • non-land related duties, functions and powers of the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority
  • constitutional provisions of the Aboriginal Lands Trust
  • financial provisions
  • customary tenure provision
  • miscellaneous provisions and penalties
  • savings provisions.

A broader review of the Act is being undertaken concurrently with the amendments.

When will the proposed amendments take effect?

The Department is currently undertaking targeted consultation on the proposed amendments to the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972.

Feedback from the consultation will be used to help prepare a draft Bill. A further round of consultation will be held on the content of the draft Bill, which is anticipated to be introduced into Parliament later in 2022.

What is the current parliamentary process to divest an Aboriginal Lands Trust estate Part III reserve and what is proposed to change?

Information about the current parliamentary process to divest an Aboriginal Lands Trust estate Part III reserve, and what is proposed to change is in Fact Sheet 6: Current Parliament Process and What is Proposed to Change.

Can Part III reserved lands be divested in a tenure that is not reserved lands?

Yes. The full suite of tenure options available under the Land Administration Act 1997 will continue to be available should an Aboriginal person or entity wish to have the land divested in an alternative tenure to Part III reserved lands.

Who do I contact if I have a question?

If you have any questions about the proposed amendments, wish to register your interest in participating in the consultation process or want to keep up-to-date with the amendment process, email aapa-act@dplh.wa.gov.au.

Fact sheets

Summary of proposed amendments to the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Act 1972
Extended summary of proposed amendments to the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Act 1972
Legislative barriers to divestment and proposed solutions
Comparisons - what are part III reserved lands and what is proposed to change?
Divestment of Aboriginal Lands Trust estate part III reserved lands - current parliamentary process and what is proposed to change

Briefing note for the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs

Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority 2022-23 Budget Estimates
Page reviewed 2 May 2022