Proposed law changes lead to housing culture shock fears
PROPOSED law changes to make it easier for residents in indigenous communities to own homes have been met with trepidation by the very people the State Government says it will benefit, documents tendered to Parliament reveal.In August, Natural Resources Minister Andrew Cripps put up the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Holding Bill 2012 to parliament, heralding it as a key step in tackling "outdated" and "inflexible" land ownership laws. But community leaders in Far North Queensland have expressed concern their people have not been adequately consulted and say in some cases residents will suffer "cultural shock" if the law is brought in too quickly.
In a submission to the committee examining the proposed Bill, Yarrabah leader Vincent Mundraby said more time was needed for consultation.
"My concern is the ... comprehension by all residents that is required for the understanding of these issues; it may need considerable time to convey to the community and the allocated time as per normal due process is not enough," he wrote.
"Tenures and activities will change and in some cases a 'cultural shock' will occur to those that need to comply with the relevant legislation."
Torres Shire Council chief executive Dalassa Yorkston said the "minimal communication" about the Bill gave "cause for concern about how well the implementation process will be managed".
"Effective communication must take into account the time needed for people to understand the process and consideration given to the constraints for people living in remote areas such as the Torres Strait Islands," the CEO wrote.
In a document compiled by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines for the committee, it was noted the change would not diminish Native Title or take rights away from people.
The department said a discussion paper was provided to eight key stakeholders including indigenous councils, Native Title representative bodies and World Vision Australia, as well as being published on State Government websites.
While the committee has recommended the Bill be passed, it asked for more thorough consultation.
NEW CAIRNS.COM.AU COMMENT POLICY
We welcome your comments on this story. Comments are submitted for possible publication on the condition that they may be edited. Comments submitted without a full name and suburb/location will not be considered for publication. Please read our full comment policy and publication guidelines.