The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 was the first attempt by an Australian government to legally recognise the Aboriginal system of land ownership and put into law the concept of inalienable freehold title. The Land Rights Act is a fundamental piece of social reform.
It has provided land for many Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory and so enabled them to maintain, and in some cases to re-establish, their cultural identity. The Land Rights Act has given some security to those who have moved back to set up outstations on their ancestors’ country.
The Act has contributed to the peaceful and responsible development of the Northern Territory and helped avoid the violent confrontations between local indigenous landowners and developers experienced in other parts of Australia and other countries.
By providing legal title and a measure of control over some of our traditional lands, the Act has allowed us to determine the pace and extent of our involvement in the broader Australian society and economy.
The many resource development projects and commercial enterprises now operating on Aboriginal land show that respecting our land rights can be compatible with national economic development. Download the CLC publication The Land Rights Act Made Simple.