Native title, Aboriginal interests and granting tenure

Native title is the name Australian law gives to the traditional ownership of land and waters that have always belonged to Aboriginal people according to their traditions, laws and customs. The Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993 (NT Act) sets out how native title rights are to be recognised and protected.

Granting tenure may affect native title interests in Crown land. Potential native title rights and interests must be identified and resolved before proceeding with any proposed tenure.

Council CLMs and Category 1 non council CLMs must employ/engage at least one native title manager and obtain written advice from them about native title and any proposed tenure. A Native Title Manager Workbook has been designed to provide guidance and assistance.

Category 2 CLMs must contact the department for advice on native title rights and interests. The department will check for any Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) or native title claims over the reserve, and provide advice for you to progress any notification requirements under the NT Act.

The department will generally not give consent to any CLM lease or licence for land subject to an Aboriginal land claim that will:

  • prevent the land being transferred to a claimant Land Council in the event it is found to be claimable
  • impact on the physical condition of the land.

It is expected that council CLMs and category 1 non council CLMs will apply the above principles when authorising tenure greater than 12 months.

For information on Aboriginal land claims refer to:

Information for Crown land tenants about Aboriginal land claims - fact sheet and Definition of terms fact sheet.

Aboriginal artifacts image

Aboriginal interests

Crown land has significant spiritual, social, cultural and economic importance to the Aboriginal people of NSW. There are various legal mechanisms in place to protect places and objects of heritage significance to Aboriginal people, and provide access or title to Crown lands in certain circumstances.

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