The August 2016 decision of the Federal Court to award $3.3 million under the Native Title Act to traditional owners who were dispossessed of their land has once again made indigenous affairs a hot topic.
But land justice is a deeper concept than offering indigenous people piecemeal monetary compensation. We need a permanent solution that immediately improves outcomes for indigenous Australians across a variety of indicators such as life expectancy, employment, and incarceration rates. Aboriginal people have a life expectancy about 10 years less than non-indigenous Australians, are more likelyto be unemployed and are 13 times more likely to be imprisoned.
The current native title system tends to approach the problem by prescribing “traditional owners” who are often senior elders within a group of Aboriginals. Moreover, native title can only exist to the extent that there is no superior title to the land (for example, by mining companies or farmers). In practice, its scope is limited.
The effect of the present system has been to hamper the entrepreneurial talent of indigenous people living in remote communities. By now, we could have seen many Aboriginal millionaires who could have helped their communities in a far more effective manner than inefficient government programs ever could.
Instead, remote communities today are bastions of poverty.
Continue reading at Spectator Australia.