Aboriginal claim on Sydney estate approved

Jack GramenzAAP
The site of a former juvenile detention centre in Sydney will be returned to traditional custodians.
Camera IconThe site of a former juvenile detention centre in Sydney will be returned to traditional custodians. Credit: AAP

The former site of an inner-Sydney juvenile detention centre will soon be part-owned by an Aboriginal land council following the approval of a claim made more than five years ago.

Transfer of 1.5 hectares of the Yasmar estate, on Parramatta Road at Haberfield, includes a heritage house and garden as well as other unoccupied buildings on the site.

The successful land claim means the unused Crown land will be transferred to the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council.

"This is great news and some recompense in recognition of historic dispossession of land," council CEO Nathan Moran said.

"Yasmar could meet many objectives including health and community wellbeing, economic benefits and cultural education, so we will develop a plan for the site with our members that can activate and maximise use of the land."

Construction began on the heritage-listed house and gardens at Yasmar in 1856.

A juvenile detention centre operated on the site for 25 years, beginning in 1981, and other parts of the estate have been used for training by Corrective Services NSW.

A land claim was made in 2016, under NSW laws that allow for the transfer of unused Crown land to Aboriginal land councils.

The NSW laws are separate from Commonwealth native title legislation.

The transfer, signed off last week, came after the NSW Auditor-General's office warned in April the government was taking too long to approve claims.

The audit found a lack of co-ordination between relevant agencies including the Department of Premier & Cabinet and the Department of Planning and Environment had stopped the government from committing to the requirements and intent of land claim laws.

There were unclear performance and accountability measures and delays in the process were denying the opportunity for land councils to exercise their right to the land, the audit found.

Progress has been made after land transfers were identified as a planning and environment priority, but the department still lacks a proper strategy to process more than 38,000 undetermined claims in a reasonable time, the audit office reported.

Land claims supported and strengthened the economic and cultural priorities of the Indigenous community, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Franklin said on Sunday.

He said he fully endorsed the land council to take over the historical site and maximise the benefits to Sydney's Aboriginal community.

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