Review of the Future Acts Regime

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has been asked to inquire into the future acts regime in the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (‘Native Title Act’). 

This Inquiry forms part of the Government’s commitment in response to the Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia’s report on the destruction of First Nations cultural heritage, A Way Forward. In undertaking this reference, the ALRC will have regard to the Socio-economic Outcomes and Priority Reforms of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and will consider work underway to address recommendations arising from the A Way Forward Report.

The Terms of Reference for this Inquiry ask the ALRC to consider:  

  • the operation of the Native Title Act and the future acts regime for over 30 years;
  • the passage of almost a decade since the last review of the Native Title Act (Connection to Country: Review of the Native Title Act 1993 (ALRC Report 126));
  • the significance of the Native Title Act, with native title having now been determined to exist in exclusive and non-exclusive form over a substantial proportion of the Australian land mass, with almost 500 claims determined and a more than 100 claims ongoing;
  • the deep connections of First Nations Australians to Country that are recognised through a determination of native title, and the considerable processes that native title holders have undergone to achieve this legal recognition;
  • the opportunity for the native title system to contribute significantly to social, cultural, environmental and economic outcomes for First Nations people, businesses, organisations and communities;
  • the role of the future acts regime as a precursor to economic and other activities on native title land;
  • the importance of the future acts regime being appropriately designed for Australia’s current and future social and economic development, in a way that respects the rights and interests of native title holders; and
  • the Australian Government’s agreement in principle with Recommendation 4 of the former Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia in its report, A Way Forward, released in October 2021.

The ALRC has been asked to provide its final report to the Attorney-General by 8 December 2025.