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Native title

Native title is the name Australian law gives to the traditional ownership of land and waters that have always belonged to Aboriginal people according to their traditions, laws and customs. These rights are different to and separate from the statutory right of Aboriginal Land Councils to make claims for land under the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983.

Crown land tenures and native title

Certain Crown land licences and permits have terminated automatically, in accordance with a clause in those licences and permits, following the Bandjalang, Yaegl and Barkandji native title consent determinations made by the Federal Court of Australia. These determinations recognise that non-exclusive native title rights continue to exist over certain Crown land. The Department has written to all affected licence holders in these areas advising of this fact and how the situation is being addressed.

The NSW Government is committed to working with licence holders and native title holders to identify an appropriate way to reissue licences. The Department is currently undertaking a review of all licences that have terminated in order to identify which licence can be reissued.

Where are we up to?

The infographic below identifies where the Department is up to in the process. This has been updated to reflect the extended timeframe for the review of individual tenures. A Word version is available for download.

In December 2016, the Department commenced reviews of individual licences and will write to affected licence holders with a decision by July 2017.

An infographic outlining the four steps undertaken in processing automatically terminated licences.

Notification undertaken to date includes:

  • Letters sent to all affected licence holders in September 2016
  • Community information sessions held at White Cliffs, Maclean and Evans Head in October 2016
  • Initial meetings held with native title holders in September/October 2016
  • Letters sent to native title holders in November 2016
  • Follow up letters sent to affected licence holders in White Cliffs in December 2016
  • Follow up letters sent to affected licence holders (outside of White Cliffs) in March 2017
  • Further meetings held with native title holders in March and May 2017

For further information on this issue, the following factsheet is available:

Maps on non-exclusive native title determination areas:

For more information on this issue please contact the department.

    P | 1300 886 235 (choose option 3, then option 2)
    E |

Native Title legislation

Following the introduction of the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993, resulting from the High Court Mabo judgement, Aboriginal people are now able to seek recognition of their native title to land.

The Commonwealth Government administers native title. If you would like more information about native title, please contact the National Native Title Tribunal at or T: 1800 640 501 free call.

For further information on native title the following fact sheet is available:

Last updated: May 2017

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