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Administering the Act

The administration of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 involves the interplay of four key authorities with roles, responsibilities and powers in administering the ALRA:

The Role of Aboriginal Affairs and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs

Aboriginal Affairs within the Office of Communities administers the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 at the direction and on behalf of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. This includes:

Aboriginal Affairs also has the responsibility to provide advice to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in relation to his legislative responsibilities which include:

The Minister has limited powers to intervene in the operations of Aboriginal Land Councils. Specifically the Minister does not have a role or the power to intervene in:

The Registrar, Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983

The Registrar, Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (the Registrar) is an independent statutory office holder appointed by the Governor of NSW. The Registrar has oversight of governance, the investigation of complaints and dispute resolution in relation to Aboriginal Land Councils constituted under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983.

Importantly, the Registrar also maintains registers of land claims and persons qualified as Aboriginal Owners under the Act. In relation to land claims the Register registers the claims and then lodges them with the Department of Primary Industries for action. The Registrar does not determine the granting of land claims which is the responsibility of the Minister/s administering the Crown Land Act 1989.

The role and functions of the Registrar are set out in section 165 of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 as follows:

  1. to register land claims made under the Act by the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council or Local Aboriginal Land Councils,
  2. to maintain the Register of Aboriginal Land Claims and the Register of Aboriginal Owners,
  3. to approve the rules of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council and Local Aboriginal Land Councils,
  4. to make recommendations to the Minister and carry out such other prescribed functions in relation to the constitution of Local Aboriginal Land Council areas and the constitution of Local Aboriginal Land Councils, the alteration of area boundaries of Local Aboriginal Land Council areas and the changing of names of Local Aboriginal Land Councils,
  5. to make recommendations to the Minister and carry out such other prescribed functions in relation to the alteration of area boundaries of Regions and the changing of names of Regions,
  6. to issue compliance directions to Aboriginal Land Councils, officers of Aboriginal Land Councils and councillors relating to the administration of the Act and the regulations and to refer failures to comply with such directions to the Court,
  7. to mediate, conciliate or arbitrate disputes relating to the operation of the Act and the regulations or to refer such disputes to independent mediators, conciliators or arbitrators,
  8. to investigate complaints regarding the non-disclosure of pecuniary interests, misbehaviour by councillors, Board members and members of staff of, and consultants to, Aboriginal Land Councils and breaches of the Act and the regulations,
    • at the request of the Minister, to provide to the Minister information as to the operations of an Aboriginal Land Council,
    • such other functions conferred or imposed on the Registrar by or under this or any other Act.

The Office of the Registrar is located in Glebe and can be contacted on 02-9562 6327.

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council is an independent statutory corporation constituted under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983. The NSW Aboriginal Land Council has many functions and in the operation of the Act and fulfils the role as the chief regulator in the administration of the land council network.

For further information see the Aboriginal Land Council section on this website.

The Minister administering the Crown Lands Act 1989

The Minister and/or Ministers administering the Crown Lands Act 1989 have the power to determine Aboriginal land claims as set out in Division 2 of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983.

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs does not have any role or power in the determination of Aboriginal Land claims.

Other Resources

For further information regarding the Registrar, Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 visit:
www.oralra.nsw.gov.au

For further information regarding the NSW Aboriginal Land Council visit:
www.alc.org.au or call its head office on 02-9689 4444.

For further information regarding the determination of land claims visit the Department of Primary Industries website at:
www.dpi.nsw.gov.au