Linking land rights frameworks to education

The Australian reports the launch of an endowment fund by the NSW Aboriginal Land Council to the value of $30m that will fund 200 education scholarships in perpetuity.  Described by Chairwoman Bev Manton as ‘our education revolution’, the money comes from a statutory fund established in 1983, diverting 7.5% of land tax accumulated over the course of 15 years.  After that period, the funds were invested and ballooned over a period of around 10 years from $281m to $700m. 

There are a number of important points to make in terms of demonstrating sound policy:

  • The education opportunities are the result of land rights.  Whilst not applying to specific land, the funds are the result of a land tax applied across the State.  It is an example of a right to land derived from Indigenous status that leads to a direct social outcome, and not passive welfarism.  This link should be built on in terms of linking other aspects of land rights frameworks. 
  • The fund will expand the administrative capacity of the Land Council, enabling greater connection to practical outcomes in education.  In part, this is a market-based solution to a significant social problem.  Land Councils have strong links with people on the ground and this will further solidify these links as well as extend the functions of Land Councils to devolving greater responsibility. 
  • It is the result of a long-term commitment on the part of Governments stretching back decades.  Politician’s are often criticised for not planning in the long term, or for making decisions that might not receive an immediate and practical political benefit.  This is quite the opposite.  
  • The long-term commitment used a method where money was invested and once it reached a significant amount the total was able to be used to provide scholarships in perpuity.  It is a model using principles of social entrepreneuralism.

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