A review of the ACT's First Nations elected body needs to consider the difference between ending Indigenous disadvantage and acknowledging groups who claim connection to the territory, a Ngambri custodian has said.
Paul Girrawah House last year reached a settlement with the ACT government in the Supreme Court in which the territory acknowledged the "hurt and distress" the sole recognition of Ngunnawal people had caused Ngambri custodians.
Mr House said Ngambri traditional owners welcomed a review of the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elected body.
But the government needed to accept there were at least three groups of Aboriginal people claiming connections to the ACT and surrounds: the Ngunnawal, the Ngambri (Kamberri) and Ngarigo, he said.
"Each of these groups must be equally recognised and respected for their cultural connections to Country," Mr House said.
Mr House said there was a big difference between working with those three groups and working to close the gap and end the disadvantages endured by Indigenous people.
"These are two things that the ACT Government needs to deal with separately because a fundamental tenet of Aboriginal law is that Aboriginal people cannot speak for other peoples' Country," he said.
"Therefore, an ACT Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander elected body whose primary role is to focus on 'Closing the Gap' and to represent all Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people who live in the ACT, cannot deal with matters relating to traditional owners' connections to and responsibility for Country."
An independent review has been tasked with considering the future of the elected body, with the government committed to working with the ACT's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to improve how it operates.
The ACT's mid-year budget review also included $1.19 million to be spent over three years to increase paid time for elected body members and establish an independent secretariat.
The funding follows an Auditor-General's report in August 2023 which warned the part-time body risked being an ineffective support for Indigenous self-determination in the territory.
Senior Ngunnawal elder Aunty Violet Sheridan on Sunday said she hoped the chair of the elected body would be given a seat in the Legislative Assembly.
"I'm hoping that when the next government gets in, that the chairperson will have a seat at the Assembly," Ms Sheridan said.
"Because at the moment, the structure is that the chairperson that has been elected does not have a seat at the table at the Assembly to advise on Indigenous issues."