FaCSIA's draft guidelines state that PBCs will be able to apply for limited funding mostly for administrative assistance through the Native Title Funding Programs of NTRBs and NTSPs and that NTRBs and NTSPs may assist PBCs in their day-to-day operations.
Responses to principles in the guidelines
The responses of participants to the principles of this approach which arose at the workshops and at the PBC national meeting described above are summarised below:
- There is little indication that the guidelines will provide real support to PBCs since there is no apparent additional PBC dedicated funding in FaCSIA's Native Title Funding Program at least in the near future, and FaCSIA has a clearly stated priority of funding claims processing.
- There are issues of choice, self-determination and possibly discrimination with most if not all PBCs being compelled to apply for funding through NTRBs and NTSPs when other Aboriginal organisations are not generally required to access assistance through such intermediaries.
- The guidelines appear to simply transfer Government responsibility for PBCs to NTRBs and NTSPs.
- Governments should establish direct working relationships with PBCs even if using NTRBs as intermediaries may be less burdensome for them.
- There appears to be no legal requirement for NTRBs or NTSPs to administer PBC funding on behalf of FaCSIA raising the possibility of the implications of the refusal of any NTRB or NTSP to do so.
- A number of short, medium and long term governance and representative issues require consideration since PBCs currently rely to a large extent on NTRBs in representing and advocating for their needs at local, regional and national levels. This is of concern since it is apparent that:
- Government expects to phase out NTRBs once claims are processed in an estimated 10 to 15 years; and
- because of policy and budgetary concerns, Government does not intend to fund PBCs in perpetuity, yet PBCs will exist in perpetuity.
- Any lack of adequate funding for post determination processes makes the claims processes meaningless.
- There are a number of other Indigenous incorporated bodies which are carrying out similar native title functions to PBCs and have similar needs but which are not recognised in the guidelines.
- NTRBs acting as intermediaries can cause unnecessary delays in implementing PBC projects;
- a reshuffling resources within the system, will locate PBCs in competition with NTRBs for funding given the priority of claims processing; and
- any new policies promising funding and greater support to PBCs through NTRBs and NTSPs will increase the expectations of PBCs of them.