Native title corporations benefit from agencies’ collaborative response to disputes

Disputes within registered native title bodies corporate (RNTBCs) will be able to be better managed through collaborative assistance under a new multi-agency initiative.

In partnership with the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT), the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and the Attorney General’s Department (AGD), the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations has piloted a multi-agency case management approach to disputes within RNTBCs.

The Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, Anthony Beven, and the NNTT’s Native Title Registrar, Stephanie Fryer-Smith, expressed strong support for the multi-agency initiative.

Mr Beven said the pilot’s success was based on the collaboration of key agencies with jurisdiction and expertise across the range of dispute issues. ‘Disputes in native title corporations are often complex and can involve a range of governance, native title and traditional decision making issues. No single agency has the capacity to respond to the full range of issues so a collaborative approach really is the key,’ Mr Beven said.

‘We know that disputes can lead to a breakdown in services. Better dispute management can strengthen corporations and assist native title holders in harnessing the potential benefits from native title.’

Three RNTBCs were offered participation in the pilot and two accepted. Dispute assistance was led by the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporation’s (ORIC) dispute management team, together with officers of the NNTT and FaHCSIA at the two pilot sites. Agreements were reached in both cases and party feedback was very positive.

‘Early intervention in disputes is fast and cost effective compared with other regulatory or legal responses. I thank the government partners and corporations for their support and participation in the pilot.’ Mr Beven said.

Ms Fryer-Smith commented, ‘The pilot project enabled each agency to contribute its particular skills and experience in addressing very challenging native title-related disputes. The effectiveness of the pilot demonstrates the great potential for successful cross-agency collaboration in this area’.

The pilot framework will continue to be applied through ORIC’s dispute management protocols. ORIC will continue its collaborative approach with the NNTT and the other agencies through the protocols. For more information please see Policy statement 22: Disputes involving corporations.

20 January 2012

Media contact
Lisa Hugg Ph: (02) 6146 4738 (ORIC) Rosalind Hanf (08) 9425 1074 (NNTT)
Ref: ORIC MR1112-17