Native Title


Native title can exist where traditional connection to land and waters has been maintained and where government acts have not removed it.  Where there has been no removal or extinguishment of native title, native title can be expressed through the right to occupy, use and enjoy an area of land to the exclusion of all others.  Where there has been partial extinguishment, the native title will need to be expressed as a list of rights. For example the right to hunt, the right to fish on land or waters and the right to take natural resources for personal, communal and non-commercial purposes.

Native title cannot be bought or sold.  It can be transferred by traditional law or custom, or surrendered to government, who can then pay compensation to the native title holders in the same way as it does when acquiring rights to other property.

The native title of a particular group will depend on the traditional laws and customs of those people. If people are successful in a native title claim, they may have a right to continue to exercise their laws and customs over traditional lands and waters whilst respecting other Australian laws.

Subject to budgetary constraints the NQLC facilitates the lodgment and prosecution of native title claims through to finality.

A claim needs a certain amount of anthropological and other research to be carried out prior to being lodged with the Federal Court.  NQLC facilitates this research and talks to traditional owners to obtain the necessary information.  A new claim will require a large community meeting to approve of the lodgment and to authorise those persons who are going to act as Applicants for the claim.  NQLC facilitates and organises these meetings.

Once a claim is lodged with the Federal Court, the National Native Title Tribunal will apply the registration test to the claim and if it passes, will publically notify the claim.

The process of public notification results in those persons who say they have an interest in the claim area that might be affected by a determination of native title to file a notice with the Court to become respondents.  Once that process has been completed and a list of respondents is known, NQLC on behalf of the traditional owners can commence negotiations with the respondents with a view to ultimately obtaining a consent determination of native title.

For further information please contact the North Queensland Land Council on 07 4042 7000.


See also: Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs)