The Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (ALRA)
Aboriginal communities in NSW can claim land to compensate them for historic dispossession of land and to support their social and
The right to claim land was introduced in 1983 when the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (ALRA) became law in NSW.
The ALRA recognises the traditional ownership and occupation of the land by Aboriginal peoples and the importance of their connection
to land. This means the ALRA recognises the spiritual, social, cultural and economic meaning of land to the state’s Aboriginal
The ALRA also acknowledges past government decisions have progressively reduced the lands set aside for Aboriginal people without
The purpose of the ALRA is set out in the section 3:
- To provide land rights for Aboriginal persons in New South Wales
- To provide for representative Aboriginal Land Councils in New South Wales
- To vest land in those Councils
- To provide for the acquisition of land, and the management of land and other assets and investments, by or for those Councils and
the allocation of funds to and by those Councils
- To provide for the provision of community benefit schemes by or on behalf of those Councils
The principle of self-determination underpins the ALRA.
Since the introduction of the ALRA many of the powers within its provisions, and the right to make decisions, have been gradually
transferred to Aboriginal people.
The ALRA provides for a self-funded and self-regulated network of independent Aboriginal bodies corporate. It also sets out
regulations and statutory reporting requirements.
Comparison to Native Title & the Northern Territory Land Rights Act 1976
Land rights legislation in NSW and Native Title legislation are different.
The NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (ALRA) differs in many ways from the Native Title Act 1993, which was passed by the Australian
Parliament and operates at a national level, rather than a state level.
The ALRA in NSW also differs from other state level land rights legislation, such as the Northern Territory’s Aboriginal Land Rights
Information about these differences is available here.