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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.

Native title consent determinations

Western Bundjalung People

On 29 August 2017, the Federal Court made a determination that the Western Bundjalung people have native title rights and interests over areas of land and water in the far north coast region of NSW, between Casino, Tenterfield and Grafton.

These native title rights are non-exclusive which means that it doesn’t affect the existing land users (including those that hold valid Crown land licences and permits) as long as the rights of the native title holders are respected.

More information is available from:

Yaegl People, Sea Claim

On 31 August 2017, the Federal Court made a determination that the Yaegl People have native title rights and interests over waters located between Woody Head, Wooli and Ulmarra on the north coast of NSW.

The Yaegl People had their non exclusive native title rights to land recognised in June 2015.

The native title rights over water that have been recognised are non-exclusive which means that existing users of waters (such as holders of fishing licences and members of the public) can continue their activities and enjoy using these waters as long as the rights of the native title holders are respected.

More information is available from:

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 has undertaken a review of all licences that have terminated in order to identify which licences can be reissued.

Where are we up to?

The infographic below identifies where the Department is up to in the process. A Word version is available for download.

In December 2016, the Department commenced reviews of individual licences. Since then 63% of the affected licences have been resolved. For the 37% still being resolved, the Department is working to negotiate an ILUA with the native title holders to allow for the grant of a new licence.

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 and September 2017
  • Follow up letters sent to affected licence holders (outside of White Cliffs) in March 2017
  • Further meetings held with native title holders between March and October 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 | enquiries@crownland.nsw.gov.au

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 www.nntt.gov.au or T: 1800 640 501 free call.

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

Last updated: 30 Oct 2017