Indigenous people who hold native title have certain rights that
are recognised under Australian law. These rights can vary from a
limited right of access to visit important places, to hunt and fish
- to a right to possess, occupy, use and enjoy the land in a way similar
to freehold ownership. Native title rights may also include the right
to carry out other kinds of traditional customs.
Native title holders have the right to be compensated if governments
acquire their land or waters for future developments. They may also
have a right to negotiate over mining developments and mineral exploration.
Indigenous Australians are not being given land under native title.
Groups are asserting that their traditional links to an area have
survived and, therefore, they have rights to the area according to
their traditional laws and customs.
Where does Native Title exist?
Native title can exist in areas where it has not been extinguished
(removed). Indigenous people may apply to have their native title
recognised and a court or other recognised body determines whether
or not native title still exists. This is done either by a consent
determination, in which native title is agreed on without going to
trial, or a litigated determination of native title.
The court also decides what sort of native title rights and interests
exist in an area. The court does not, however, hand over a title deed
of that land. The recognition of native title cannot take away or
interfere with the rights and interests that other people have over
the same area, including owning a home, holding a pastoral lease or
having a mining lease.
Nevertheless, native title rights can exist and be exercised alongside
the rights of other people. Where native title rights and the rights
of another person conflict, the rights of the other person prevail.
Therefore native title claims often are made for non-exclusive or
Native title may exist in areas such as: vacant (or unallocated)
Crown land; forests and beaches; national parks and public reserves;
some types of pastoral lease; land held by government agencies; land
held for Aboriginal communities; or oceans, lakes, rivers, etc and
other waters that are not privately owned.
Based on material supplied by the National
Native Title Tribunal
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1 of Native Title and Land Rights