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Land Claims

The Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (ALRA) was introduced to compensate Aboriginal people in NSW for dispossession of their land.

Aboriginal communities in NSW can claim land to compensate them for historic dispossession of land and to support their social and economic development.

The ALRA enables Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs) to claim Crown Land, that is, land in NSW that is owned and managed by the State Government. LALCs can have land transferred to them in freehold title if at the time of the claim the land is, among other requirements:

  • Able to be lawfully sold or leased
  • Not lawfully used or occupied
  • Not needed nor likely to be needed as residential lands
  • Not needed nor likely to be needed for an essential public purpose including nature conservation
  • Not impacted by Native Title (registration application or determination). 

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Treaty has no role or power to determine Aboriginal Land claims in NSW. The role of determining land claims resides with the Minister administering the Crown Lands Management Act 2016, currently the Minister for Lands and Property.

Successful claims result in the transfer of land in freehold title to the claimant LALC.

LALCs can develop and/or sell land based on the decision of their members and with the approval of NSWALC. However, land acquired under the NSW land claims process after 1994 is subject to Native Title and the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993.

LALC land acquired under the land claims process is held in freehold title and is subject to all prevailing planning, environmental management, and cultural heritage legislation.

The land claim process in NSW is summarised below:

  • A LALC or NSWALC on behalf of a LALC, may make claims over Crown Land not needed for an essential public purpose or legally used and/or occupied.
  • Land claims are lodged with the Registrar of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (ALRA) and referred to the Minister administering the Crown Lands Management Act 2016 for investigation and determination.
  • Once the Minister administering the Crown Lands Management Act 2016 is satisfied that either the whole or part of the land is claimable or not, the land claim is either granted or refused, wholly or partly.
  • Granted land is then transferred to the relevant LALC as freehold title.
  • LALCs in NSW are not required to establish cultural association with land when making a land claim.

Want to find out more?

Aboriginal Land Claim registration forms are available from the ORALRA website at:

Aboriginal Land Claim registrations can be sent directly to:

The Office of the Registrar is located in Parramatta and can be contacted on 8575 1160.

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