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Working paper

Translating Aboriginal land rights into development outcomes: factors contributing to a successful program in Central Australia

Aboriginal Australians Economic development Native Title Land use Land rights Australia


This paper explores some of the factors that appear to be supporting the growth and success of the Central Land Council's multimillion-dollar Aboriginal community development program that operates across Central Australia. The program has driven a major change in the way that Aboriginal groups across Central Australia apply a significant amount of their income. It has introduced a facilitated process that supports Aboriginal groups to set and achieve development objectives using income earned from collectively owned land. The program is premised on empowerment, ownership and control at the group level. Establishment of this process has taken time and commitment, in a context where participants are generally focused on individual autonomy and decision making at the family or very local level. However, the program is showing signs of real success in delivering Aboriginal control and empowerment, and a range of social, cultural and economic benefits. The paper explores the factors that appear to underpin this success. What is clear is that facilitating Aboriginal control is developing Aboriginal collective capacity to determine development in line with Aboriginal values and priorities, and is delivering outcomes people want to see.

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