Commonwealth caveated property

Commonwealth rights and interests in Indigenous grant-funded property (CRIIP) project

Changes to ATSIC legislation

The Australian Government holds caveats over 2800 grant-funded property titles owned by 400 Indigenous organisations. Former ATSIC legislation stopped the Government from removing its interests in these properties unless they were being sold, transferred or mortgaged. The old legislation meant ATSIC property grants were treated differently from other grants and that Australian Government agencies had different approaches for dealing with the disposal of property.

In February 2018, legislation was passed to allow the Government to give written notice to Indigenous organisations that its consent is no longer required for a property disposal. This means that Indigenous organisations can apply at any time to have a caveat on their property lifted perpetually.

Developing new policy guidelines

As a result of the legislative changes, the Government is developing new policy guidelines on the retention and removal of caveats over grant-funded properties. In May and June 2018, we conducted a national consultation process to inform the development of the new CRIIP policy and guidelines. Over 145 people representing 97 organisations attended the sessions held in:

  • Brisbane: Tuesday 29 May
  • Townsville: Wednesday 30 May
  • Cairns: Thursday 31 May
  • Melbourne: Tuesday 12 June
  • Ceduna: Wednesday 13 June
  • Perth: Thursday 14 June
  • Canberra: Monday 18 June
  • Sydney: Wednesday 20 June
  • Dubbo: Thursday 21 June

The major theme from the consultations is lifting caveats will create economic opportunity, but there is need for strong organisational governance.

A governance committee is overseeing this process. The committee includes consenting authorities and invited Indigenous representatives:

  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Department of Health
  • Attorney-General’s Department
  • Department of Communications and the Arts
  • Indigenous Land Corporation
  • Indigenous Business Australia
  • invited Indigenous representatives from Aboriginal Housing Victoria, NSWALC and National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.

In developing the new policy guidelines, the Australian Government is committed to three clear principles: 

  1. Supporting self-determination by maximising choice, flexibility, autonomy and economic independence for Indigenous organisations.
  2. Supporting the sustainability of assets for community benefit, to ensure the activation of cultural, legal, health, environmental, social and economic outcomes.
  3. Ensuring no organisation is disadvantaged through a new policy to deal with grant-funded properties.

The Australian government has committed to releasing the new guidelines by the end of 2018.

For further information, please email

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