Land Reform Unit

The work of Balkanu’s Land Reform Unit is to secure land ownership and management opportunities for Cape York traditional owners. The Unit operates in parallel to, and in close cooperation with, the Cape York Land Council who are the statutory Native Title Representative Body for Cape York people under the Native Title Act (1993).

In October 2007 the Queensland Parliament passed the Cape York Peninsula Heritage Act, 2007. This Act provides for Aboriginal ownership of all National Parks on Cape York Peninsula, and for joint management of these National Parks by traditional owners working in cooperation with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS). Balkanu has been contracted by QPWS to facilitate the negotiations.

The Land Reform Unit currently manages negotiations between traditional owners and the Queensland State government under two linked projects:

  • The State Land Dealings project, which conducts negotiations on tenure dealings on State-owned and newly acquired lands, with a view to achieving agreement between the parties on returning some areas of land to traditional owners as Aboriginal freehold land, while other areas become Aboriginal-owned National Parks;
  • The National Park Transfers project, which conducts negotiations for the handover of existing national parks to traditional owners, and the development of joint management arrangements between traditional owners and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

Our goals

  1. Increase the ownership of Cape York Traditional Lands by Indigenous people, clans and communities
  2. Maximise the ongoing economic and social outcomes from lands acquired by indigenous qroups
  3. Ensure that indigenous access and land management aspirations are recognized and protected in relation to State and Federal Government legislative and policy initiatives

Key activities

  • Tenure resolution of Kalpower, Archer Point , Melsonby properties. Other state lands and national parks that have been earmarked for transfer to Aboriginal management include the regions of Shelburne, Kalinga, Batavia, Iron Range/Portland roads, Cooktown, Bromley-Boynton, Starke, Mt Jack, Upper Bridge Ck, Munburra and National Parks – Mungkan-Kandju, Cliff Islands, Lakefield, Iron Range.
  • Establish coordinated support arrangements to Land Trusts working with Caring for Country and Cape York Business Development business units
  • Identify and promote the purchase of lands for indigenous groups
  • Improve the effectiveness of Cape York Indigenous land trusts, landholding and management corporations
  • Maintain or enhance the commercial value of pastoral properties acquired for Indigenous groups
  • Ensure that indigenous access and land management aspirations are recognized and protected in relation to State and Federal Government legislative and policy initiatives
  • Coordinated appointment of Regional Protected Area Management Committee

Photos

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ABOVE: Tommy George Snr (right) and Francis Lee Cheu receive the ‘Deed of Grant of Land’ to Kalinga on behalf of the Grantees on the 26th May 2010.

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ABOVE: Traditional owners, their family and organisers gather for a group photo after a successful Kalinga Authorisation meeting in April 2010.

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ABOVE: Lakefield National Park