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Attorney General: Improving the native title system

28 Nov 2017

Joint media release
Attorney-General Brandis

This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the High Court’s landmark decision in Mabo v Queensland [No 2], which recognised the pre-existing native title rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Since this time, and the enactment of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), the native title system has changed and matured. Now, 32 per cent of the Australian land mass has a recognised native title interest in it, and a further 28 per cent is under claim.

In responding to these changes, the Attorney-General and Minister for Indigenous Affairs have released an options paper on “Reforms to the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth)”. The paper seeks stakeholder views on how to improve the native title system as a whole and includes options for reform derived from a number of reviews and reports.

It is timely to reform native title-related legislation to ensure it continues to appropriately support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as non-Indigenous stakeholders, in their dealings with native title land and water. The paper focuses on reforms to:

  • improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the native title system to resolve claims

  • facilitate agreement making around the use of native title land

  • promote the autonomy of native title groups to make decisions about their land and to resolve internal disputes.

Ensuring stakeholders have their say on the options for reform presented in the paper, face-to-face consultations with key stakeholders will be held across the country while the Options Paper is open for comment. Indigenous stakeholders, such as Native Title Representative Bodies and Service Providers, other peak Indigenous groups and native title corporations will play an important role in these conversations.

The Options Paper is the first stage of public consultation on the reforms process. Feedback from stakeholders on the Options Paper will inform the next stage of the reform process.

Find out more

For further details on the options paper and how to make a submission, please visit the Attorney‑General’s Department website. Submissions are open until Thursday 25 January 2018.