Indigenous Management Agreements
Under the Aboriginal Land Act 1991 and the Nature Conservation Act 1992, the State is able to enter into agreements with traditional owners in the Cape York Peninsula Region and the North Stradbroke Island Region to involve them in the management of protected areas.
Amendments to the Aboriginal Land Act and Nature Conservation Act in 2007 and 2011 allowed for the creation of new classes of protected areas called ‘national park (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land)’, for land in the Cape York Peninsula Region, and ‘indigenous joint management areas’, for land in the North Stradbroke Island Region.
These new classes of protected areas allow for existing and proposed national parks to become Aboriginal land and also be dedicated and managed as national park.
Traditional owners will be the owners of the land through the grant of an Aboriginal freehold title, provided the area will always be managed as national park (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land) or an indigenous joint management area under the Nature Conservation Act.
The joint management of these protected areas is set out in indigenous management agreements between the State and the traditional owners.
Section 169 of the Aboriginal Land Act provides that if it is proposed that a traditional owner entity will hold land in the Cape York Peninsula Region or the North Stradbroke Island Region as Aboriginal land and the State and the entity agree that the land is to become national park (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land) or an indigenous joint management area then, before the land is granted, an indigenous management agreement must be entered into about the proposed management of the land.
Division 3 of part 4 of the Nature Conservation Act also contains requirements for indigenous management agreements. Sections 42AA and 42AH of the Nature Conservation Act provides for indigenous management agreements where national parks or prescribed protected areas are to become Aboriginal land. There is also a requirement for an indigenous management agreement if Aboriginal land in the Cape York Peninsula Region or North Stradbroke Island Region that is not dedicated as national park or a prescribed protected area is to be dedicated as national park or a prescribed protected area.
The Nature Conservation Act protects existing public rights of access in national parks. The indigenous management agreement must not result in a decrease in the public rights of access that existed in relation to the national park immediately prior to the dedication.
The existence of the indigenous management agreement must be recorded on the titles register. The registrar of titles must be provided with notice of the existence of an indigenous management agreement and it must be recorded on the registrar of titles and a record of the indigenous management agreement must be kept in a way so a search of the register relating to title to the land will show the existence of the indigenous management agreement.
Similar to Aboriginal land granted under the Aboriginal Land Act, the chief executive and the traditional owners are entitled to grant certain leases, agreements, licences, permits and authorities over land the subject of an indigenous management agreement with each other’s consent. Any grant must be consistent with any management plan, indigenous land use agreement and any indigenous management agreement.
An indigenous management agreement must include the matters set out in section 170(1) of the Aboriginal Land Act, including how the land is proposed to be managed, the process for developing a management statement or management plan for the land, details of areas of the land to which general public access may be restricted and how future interests in the land will be created and managed. The joint management arrangements between the parties may include arrangements about the employment and training of indigenous rangers, the protection and maintenance of Aboriginal cultural resources and sites, camping by indigenous landholders, the use of the cultural and natural resources of the area in accordance with Aboriginal tradition, visitor and commercial opportunities and community partnerships.
 Sections 42AB and 42AI of the Nature Conservation Act.
 Section 170(2) of the Aboriginal Land Act.
 Section 172 of the Aboriginal Land Act.
 Sections 42AD and 42AN of the Nature Conservation Act.
The information in this publication is provided for general purposes only. It is not to be relied on as a substitute for legal advice. Crown Law and the Department of Justice and Attorney-General accept no liability for losses caused by reliance on the material in this publication. Formal legal advice should be obtained for particular matters.
Published: 4 February 2020
Author: Principal Lawyer, Anita Cope