The NSW minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts has announced a suite of pioneering planning measures to help the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council better utilise its land.

The package includes a State Environmental Planning Policy (Aboriginal Land) 2019 (SEPP), a Ministerial Direction, an Interim Darkinjung Development Delivery Plan, and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlining how the NSW Government and Darkinjung will work together.

The Darkinjung Aboriginal Land Council (Darkinjung) is one of 120 Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs) in NSW established under the Aboriginal Land Rights (ALR) Act 1983.

The Darkinjung Delivery Framework (Framework) has been designed to bring greater self-determination for the Darkinjung community as well as to encourage better social and economic results from its land.

The Darkinjung region covers all of the Central Coast, stretching from the Hawkesbury River in the South to Catherine Hill Bay in the north, the Pacific Ocean to the East to the Watagan Mountains to the West.

The Framework is a pilot with potential for extension to other ALCs to benefit Aboriginal communities across NSW and includes:

  • A State Environmental Planning Policy (Aboriginal Land) 2019 (SEPP): A statutory planning framework to enable the preparation of development delivery plans for land owned by LALCs.
  • A Ministerial Direction (Development of Aboriginal Land Council land): A direction enabling development delivery plans or interim development delivery plans to be considered in the preparation of planning proposals.
  • A Planning Circular PS 19-001: An independent review of planning proposals for Aboriginal Land Council land: Formal guidance that will give LALCs the opportunity for an independent body to give advice on planning proposals for land subject to a development delivery plan or an interim development delivery plan, that is shown in the SEPP.
  • The Interim Darkinjung Development Delivery Plan (DDDP): A strategic plan of identified Darkinjung priority sites for development. It is the first interim development delivery plan that will be given effect under the new Ministerial Direction.  

The Darkinjung is the largest non-Government landholder on the Central Coast with 3,700 hectares of land and the new planning framework would allow the land to be used in a variety of ways, including residential development, employment lands and conservation plans.

“This initiative includes revised planning processes, legal changes, ongoing collaboration and education between the NSW Government and Darkinjung that are unprecedented in their depth and breadth,” says Roberts.

“Importantly, we see potential for this package to roll out to other Local Aboriginal Land Councils, enabling Aboriginal communities across NSW to better achieve economic self-determination from their lands.”  

According to Darkinjung chairperson Matthew West, “The release of this package is a historic moment in the journey to self-determination of Aboriginal people on the Central Coast.”

“These are profound measures with the potential to drive positive results for generations to come,” he says.