The Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 was introduced to compensate Aboriginal people in New South Wales for the past dispossession of their land. The Act provides that Local Aboriginal Land Councils can claim Crown Land and have that land transferred to them in freehold title if, among other requirements, the land at the time of the claim:
The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs does not have any role or power in the determination of Aboriginal Land claims. Rather, it is the Minister and/or Ministers administering the Crown Lands Act 1989 that determine Aboriginal land claims as set out in Division 2 of Part 2 of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983. Currently, the role is shared by the Minister for Primary Industries and the Minister for Regional Infrastructure and Services.
Successful claims result in the transfer of land in freehold title to the claimant Council. Aboriginal Land Councils can develop and/or sell lands as decided by the members, with the appropriate approval of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council. However, land acquired under the land claims process prior to 1994 must first obtain a determination of native title in relation to the land under the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993. Aboriginal Land Councils are required to comply with all other relevant legislation including nature conservation, zoning compliance, development applications and cultural heritage assessments in any development or sale.
The land claim process is summarised below:
For further information visit the Department of Primary Industries website at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au