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Roles and functions of Native Title Organisations to be reviewed


4 June 2013: The Australian Government has initiated a review of the roles and functions of native title organisations to ensure that these organisations continue to meet the evolving needs of the native title system and are well positioned to respond to the needs of native title holders after claims have been resolved.

To assist this process a discussion paper is being launched today at the National Native Title Conference. The discussion paper is designed to outline the context of the Review as well as identify a series of ‘Discussion Points’ designed to focus submissions on pertinent issues.

The Review will be conducted by Deloitte Access Economics and will be concluded in the calendar year of 2013. Deloitte Access Economics will be drawing on input from interested individuals and groups, gathered through a public submission process.

The call for submissions opened today and the deadline for all submissions will be 30 September 2013.

Deloitte Access Economics is being assisted in this task by a Reference Group, which has been established to provide comment and strategic direction (see Discussion paper for more detail pg 26).

The Review Team is being led by Deloitte Access Economic’s Dr Ric Simes and includes Bill Gray AM, Dr Jeff Harmer AO, Roland Breckwoldt and Deloitte staff.

It is now over 20 years since the Native Title Act 1993 was introduced and established the regulatory and legal framework for the operation of native title organisations across Australia. Since this time, a number of significant changes have occurred, which have impacted on the context in which native title organisations operate.

Perhaps most significantly, over 220 native title determinations have now been made, and there has been an increase in the number of registered native title bodies corporate. These and other changes have implications for the needs of native title holders, making it timely to review the roles and functions of native title representative bodies (NTRBs) and native title services providers (NTSPs).

Dr Ric Simes said, “This is a timely review as it is important that native title organisations are positioned to respond to the evolving needs of native title holders.”

The Review will consider a range of issues affecting native title organisations and native title holders.

Submission information:

In order to inform the Review’s finding, extensive public engagement will be undertaken. This public engagement will primarily be based on submissions made in response to a public discussion paper. The discussion paper provides an overview of key issues and a series of questions expanding on the terms of reference. The Review’s success will depend in large part on the strength of the submissions, making it essential that interested parties engage in this process.

Submissions can be made through any of the following channels:

  1. Website: Submissions can be uploaded at: title review
  2. Email: Submissions can be emailed to:
  3. Mail: Submissions can be mailed to:
    Attention: Native Title Review Team
    PO Box N250 Grosvenor Place
    Sydney NSW 1220 Australia

It is anticipated that all submissions received will be published on the Review website. However, the Review team reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to determine if a submission is suitable to be made publicly available. Parties may also elect to have their submission remain confidential to the Review.

More information on the Review, including the terms of reference, discussion paper and Submission Guide, can be found at title review

Terms of Reference

The Reviewer will undertake a review of the role and statutory functions of NTRBs and NTSPs in the light of the changing environment and make recommendations on whether changes are required to ensure that the scope and quality of services to native title holders and claimants are appropriate. In making the recommendations, the reviewer should not assume the availability of additional financial resources.

Specifically, the Reviewer will:

  1. Examine the range of functions, both statutory and non-statutory currently performed by NTRBs and NTSPs;
  2. Consider whether NTRBs and NTSPs could adopt a broader role in promoting and facilitating sustainable use of benefits flowing from agreements and settlement of claims;
  3. Consider whether there is a continuing need for the recognition provisions in Part 11 of the Native Title Act, noting that 6 of the current 15 native title organisations are NTSPs and therefore outside of the recognition scheme;
  4. Examine the scope for rationalisation of the numbers of NTRBs and NTSPs currently operating in the native title system;
  5. Consider whether there should be legislative changes to NTRB and NTSP existing powers and functions specifically to include assistance to RNTBCs, where appropriate, to attain the capacity to undertake their functions in the best interests of their members and the native title group and in accordance with their legislative and governance requirements (noting that not all RNTBCs require such assistance);
  6. Consider the nature of that assistance, canvassing capacity building, and direct or indirect provision of financial, legal and dispute resolution services;
  7. Consider the current nature of services to native title holders and claimants by non-NTRB and NTSP based professionals, and the impact on the native title system of these services;
  8. Consider whether there should be legislative or regulatory changes to ensure the scope and quality of services to native title holders from non-NTRB and NTSP based professionals are appropriate;
  9. Make other incidental recommendations relating to the future role and functions of NTRBs, NTSPs and PBCs to facilitate effective support for native title holders and claimants.

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