The NSW Government has presented the land title to the former Orange police station site to Orange Local Aboriginal Land Council in a handover ceremony following a successful Aboriginal Land Claim.
Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Crown Lands Deputy Secretary Melanie Hawyes presented the title to Aunty Mary Parker, a Board member with Orange Local Aboriginal Land Council.
It followed the assessment and granting of a land claim lodged by the NSW Aboriginal Land Council on behalf of Orange Local Aboriginal Land Council, covering about 2,000 square metres of the former police station site.
The site in Byng Street, Orange had been vacant for a number of years following the opening of the new Orange Police Station across the road.
Under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983, vacant Crown land can be claimed by Aboriginal Land Councils if it is not being lawfully used or occupied.
The official handover ceremony was attended by representatives of Orange City Council, Orange Local Aboriginal Land Council, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Crown Lands, and Members of Parliament.
A Welcome to Country Ceremony was delivered by Orange Elder Uncle Neil Ingram, with local Aboriginal dance groups Dyiramaalang Dancers and Yalbalinga Ngurumbang performing Wiradjuri welcome dances.
Orange Local Aboriginal Land Council Chair Jamie Newman said the title handover marked the start of an exciting and productive future for the Byng St site.
“The site is now owned by the Orange LALC as freehold title, which gives us the opportunity to develop relationships, drive economics and continue to provide for the cultural and social needs of our members and Orange’s Aboriginal community, as well as the whole Orange community,” Mr Newman said.
“We know the old police station has long needed a facelift and a useful purpose, and I’m happy to say that Orange LALC is going to give it one,” Mr Newman said.
Orange Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO Annette Steele said the Byng St site will be refurbished and refitted, with a grand reopening ceremony planned for about the end of 2021.
“The Orange LALC Board has committed to creating a thriving hub, a community meeting place that will be a gift to the Orange community to enjoy,” Ms Steele said.
“The old police station will be renovated and refurbished to provide a place where everyone is welcome, and a place Orange can be proud of.
“This handback means we now have a facility which will accommodate our strategic planning and align with Orange LALC’s aspirations within its Land Council boundaries.
“This will enhance our delivery of all our social and community programs, for current and future generations.”
Mr Newman said he was appreciative of local support heading into the future.
“We have a 15-year social development plan and are committed to continuing as a reputable service provider and setting a standard for our young people to drive further. This really is a magnificent opportunity, and the Board looks forward to changing the narrative as we lead this change.”