Abstract: Influential indigenous leaders provide analyses and reveal their passions for their people and land, and for the Australia we all want to call home. The book is inspired by the 20th anniversary of the Aboriginal Land Rights (N.T.) Act, and coincides with the final year for lodgement of claims. As the ground is shifting beneath indigenous Australia, in a political sense, there is an even greater need to stand firm on the central issue of land rights. To forsake our land is to deny not just ourselves but also the future of Australia, socially, environmentally and culturally.
Notes: The book's main focus is on issues surrounding Aboriginal Land Rights, however there are some relevant chapters including this one. The book is available in the Business Library at Reid, UWA. Author of this chapter = Executive Director of the Kimberley Land Council. The author provides a brief introduction including the nature of government service delivery to Aboriginal communities followed by a discussion on the importance of Native Title and Development. Then a discussion on the need for regional autonomy is provided: Regional Agreements and Regional Authority: The Regional Agreement concept is now part of the consciousness of Kimberley Aboriginal people, communities have been empowered to seek local solutions to local problems and have taken the initiative in implementing strategies to improve material and social well-being. A process needs to be begun that will achieve long lasting political and power relationships between indigenous people and the government, and will deliver social and economic outcomes for Aboriginal people as well as the certainty for non-Aboriginal people who want to use the land and resources. The ATSIC Regional Councils in the Kimberley do not correspond to cultural boundaries or traditional land ownership patterns; they impose administrative structures that are designed to solve a perceived 'aboriginal problem' rather then facilitate self-determination. One of the ATSIC Regional Councils endorsed a regional plan with the aim of allowing Aboriginal people within the region to live in accordance with traditional law and custom, to facilitate recognition of native title rights, to attain living standards comparable with those enjoyed by the wider community and to establish economic independence. The Regional Council recognised that it must work in partnership with other Aboriginal organisations in the region to develop negotiating positions directed at achieving the goal of regional autonomy. The author proposes that there be a joint parliamentary review of the ATSIC Act to allow for greater facilitation of regional autonomy. He expects to see the establishment of a single Kimberley Regional Authority with the sole responsibility of making funding decisions for the region. The Authority could reflect the traditional land ownership and authority structures, could take on the task of educating, informing and consulting with Aboriginal people on the matter of negotiated agreemements. It should have the responsibility to negotiate for the settlement of outstanding claims, including land use and management, essential service delivery, preservation and enhancement of cultural and social well-being and the development of economic bases.