The National Native Title Conference 2016 will be co-convened by AIATSIS and the Northern Land Council.

To learn more about AIATSIS please visit the About Us page.

Northern Land Council

northern land council logo

The Northern Land Council (NLC) is an independent statutory authority of the Commonwealth, responsible under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 Cth for assisting Aboriginal peoples in the Top End of the Northern Territory to acquire and manage their traditional land and sea estates.

The NLC is also the Native Title Representative Body for its region, including the Tiwi Islands and Groote Eylandt and as required the default Prescribed Body Corporate for native title holders.

The supreme governing body of the NLC is the Full Council, which comprises 83 members. Seventy-eight are elected every three years and five extra women are co-opted. The Full Council delegates substantial decision-making powers to its nine-member Executive Council.

The NLC’s constituents are the traditional Aboriginal owners and residents of Aboriginal owned lands. About 36,000 Aboriginal people live within the NLC’s region, which includes around 200 communities ranging in size from small family outstations to communities of more than 3000 people. Most of these communities are in remote locations including island communities where traditional law continues to be practised and Aboriginal languages are primary.

In the 40 years since the Commonwealth Parliament passed the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act, Aboriginal people have gained freehold title to half the Territory’s landmass; further, as a result of the High Court’s Blue Mud Bay decision in 2008, they also own 85 per cent of the coastline.

Of significance to this conference is the Yarmirr v Northern Territory native title claim, lodged in November 1994 on behalf of Manndilarri-Ildugij and others, was the first application over native title rights to the sea. The case was settled in the High Court on 11 October 2001 which established that traditional owners have native title rights to the sea and sea-bed, however, it is non-exclusive.

The NLC’s Caring for Country branch provides support and management of 17 ranger groups that directly assists traditional owners to manage their land and waters across its region.

The NLC’s most important continuing function is to consult with traditional owners (and with other Aboriginal people who have an interest in affected lands) to ensure they give full, prior and informed consent to any use of their land. This precept has heightened importance given the push to develop Northern Australia. In this context, the NLC sees its future role as encouraging and enabling Indigenous-led development.

To learn more about the Northern Land Council, please visit the Northern Land Council website.

Last reviewed: 22 Jan 2016