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Legal Issues in Transferring Research Materials from NTRB/SPs to RNTBCs, Angus Frith


As part of AIATSIS’s Return of Native Title Materials project, I am drafting a template agreement for the transfer of claim research material from NTRB/SPs to registered native title bodies corporate (‘RNTBCs’), which manage determined native title. These materials – created in the process of native title, land claim and cultural heritage work – include individual statements, expert reports, genealogies, field notes and other material. Issues arising for such transfers include technological, storage and legal concerns.

This paper addresses some of the legal issues arising in relation to the transfer of research material from NTRB/SPs to RNTBCs, including negotiating solicitor/client relationships between NTRB/SPs and their clients or former clients; recent developments in the law about the relationship between a native title applicant and the subsequent RNTBC; confidentiality and privacy concerns for the original contributors of the information expressed in the research materials held by the NTRB/SP or RNTBC; and matters concerning the ongoing management of the materials.


Dr Angus Frith is a member of the Victorian Bar and has practised in native title law in several States since 1995. He has worked on issues of connection and extinguishment, agreements about acts affecting native title, and structures for managing recognised native title rights and interests. His PhD, ‘Getting it Right for the Future: Aboriginal Law, Australian Law and Native Title Corporations’ (Melbourne Law School, 2013) addresses the manner in which native title holders might best manage the interaction of traditional laws and customs and Australian law in their PBCs. He has also taught native title law at JD and Masters’ level at Melbourne Law School.

Last updated: 25 June 2021