Land council

  (Redirected from Aboriginal Land Council)

Land councils, also known as Aboriginal land councils, or land and sea councils, are Australian community organisations, generally organised by region, that are commonly formed to represent the Indigenous Australians (both Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islander people) who occupied their particular region before the arrival of European settlers. They have historically advocated for recognition of traditional land rights, and also for the rights of Indigenous people in other areas such as equal wages and adequate housing.

The first land councils were created in the Northern Territory under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976, with the states later creating their own legislation and system of land councils. Aboriginal land trusts (ALTs) were also set up under the Act, which hold the freehold title to the land granted under the Act. States also have land trusts, but the land may also be owned by corporations in Queensland.

In New South Wales, there is also a network of local Aboriginal land councils (LALCs), which form a network of organisations close to their communities and support the larger land council.

Background and descriptionEdit

The Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976, a piece of federal government legislation, was the first law by any Australian government that legally recognised the Aboriginal system of land ownership, legislating the concept of inalienable freehold title, and thus the first of all Aboriginal land rights legislation in Australia.[1] Title to the freehold land thus granted is held by Aboriginal land trusts, also created by the Act.[2] While it applied only to the Northern Territory, this law provided the basis on which Aboriginal peoples could claim land rights based on traditional occupation, and it set a precedent which was followed by the other states.[3]

The various state laws "effectively confer collective title to or for the benefit of traditional owners", with rights that frequently enable the pursuit of economic development opportunities for the traditional owners.[2] Land councils are not the same as Registered Native Title Body Corporates (RNTBCs), which are funded by the federal government. Native title in Australia includes rights and interests that relate to land and waters held by Indigenous people under traditional laws and customs, recognised by the common law in accordance with the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth). These bodies (also known as Prescribed Bodies Corporate or PBCs), hold, manage and protect native title on behalf of traditional owners, but do not own land.[4]

The states' land councils (or equivalents) also have responsibilities under the [federal] Native Title Act.[3]

In the states and territoriesEdit

The Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976 created the Central Land Council and the Northern Land Council in the Northern Territory; others were created later. It also created Aboriginal land trusts, of which there are 151 in the NT.[2] Under the Act, traditional owners hold decision-making powers over the use of Aboriginal land. Land Councils assist traditional owners to acquire and manage their land. Royalty equivalents for mining activity on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory are paid to the Aboriginals Benefit Account, administered by the federal government.[4]

In New South Wales, a network of local land councils and a state land council were set up by the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983.[3]

In Queensland, the land (mostly former reserves located on a special type of land tenure called a Deed of Grant in Trust or DOGIT) may be owned by a corporate body known as a "CATSIA body", as they are created under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) in that state. Since 2015, it has been parts of the collective title to freehold title, but only for land in urban areas.[2]

In South Australia, the three Aboriginal landholding authorities are the (South Australian) Aboriginal Lands Trust, Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) and Maralinga Tjarutja, all statutory bodies.[5] The ALT was created under the Aboriginal Lands Trust Act 1966, but since 1 July 2014 has been governed by the Aboriginal Lands Trust Act 2013. The South Australian Government provides land rights administration funding to the ALT and works with the Trust on a range of economic, community development and landcare projects across the state.[6] APY was created by the APY Land Rights Act 1981, as amended in 2016–2017, and has an elected Executive Board.[7] The government is also able to transfer other crown land to the control of the Trust.[8][9][10]

In Victoria, where there are laws providing for organisations called Registered Aboriginal Parties, which provide functions in relation to Aboriginal people similar to those provided by land councils in other states and the NT.

In Western Australia, the Aboriginal Lands Trust (ALT) was created under the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972, and as of 2021 has responsibility for about 24,000,000 hectares (59,000,000 acres), the equivalent of around 10% of the state's land. There are many regional and remote communities living on 44 reserves situated on this land,[2] represented by a number of land councils.

List of land councils by stateEdit

New South WalesEdit

Northern TerritoryEdit


South AustraliaEdit



As of July 2019, the 11 Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) cover around 66% of the state. They are:[11]

Western AustraliaEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Aboriginal Land Rights Act". Central Land Council, Australia. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land". Austrade. 26 February 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Korff, Jens (17 July 2020). "Aboriginal land councils". Creative Spirits. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Land and Housing". National Indigenous Australians Agency. Retrieved 9 January 2021.   Text has been copied from this source, which is available under a Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence. (See here.)
  5. ^ "Aboriginal land and business". Department of the Premier and Cabinet (South Australia). Retrieved 9 January 2021.   Text may have been copied from this source, which is available under a Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0 AU) licence.
  6. ^ "Aboriginal Lands Trust". Department of the Premier and Cabinet (South Australia). Retrieved 9 January 2021.   Text may have been copied from this source, which is available under a Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0 AU) licence.
  7. ^ "Amendment of the APY Land Rights Act 1981". Department of the Premier and Cabinet (South Australia). Retrieved 9 January 2021.   Text may have been copied from this source, which is available under a Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0 AU) licence.
  8. ^ "About us". Aboriginal Lands Trust. Archived from the original on 1 June 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Aboriginal Lands Trust". Agreements, Treaties and Negotiated Settlements Project. Indigenous Studies Program, The University of Melbourne. Retrieved 2 February 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Aboriginal Lands Trust Act 1966. South Australian Acts (Point-in-Time). Retrieved on 29 January 2012.
  11. ^ "Victoria's current Registered Aboriginal Parties". Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council. 31 July 2019. Retrieved 23 February 2020.

External linksEdit