In 1983, the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 became law in NSW, representing a major step by the NSW Parliament to provide land rights to the Aboriginal people of NSW for the loss and dispossession of their land. The Act is a compensatory regime which recognises that land is of spiritual, social, cultural and economic importance to Aboriginal people. This is set out in the preamble of the Act and underpins how the legislation functions and is administered. Specifically, the preamble states that land was traditionally owned and occupied by Aboriginal people and accepts that as a result of past government decisions, the amount of land set aside for Aboriginal people has been progressively reduced without compensation.
The purpose of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 is set out in the section 3 of the Act as follows:
The principle of self determination underpins the Act. Over the course of its history and development the legislation has progressively increased the power and decision making of its intents and purposes to Aboriginal people. Apart from a regulatory regime of statutory reporting requirements the legislation provides for a self funded and self regulated network of independent Aboriginal corporations.
The Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 differs,in fundamental respects from Commonwealth Native Title legislation and from other State level land rights legislation, such as the Northern Territory’s Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976.
The current Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 is available at legislation.nsw.gov.au
Native Title Tribunal nntt.gov.au
NSW Native Title Services atns.net.au
Anindilyakwa Land Council www.anindilyakwa.com.au
Central Land Council www.clc.org.au
Northern Land Council www.nlc.org.au
Tiwi Land Council www.tiwilandcouncil.com