Terms of Reference

I, the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC, Attorney-General of Australia, having regard to:

  • the operation of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (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
  • 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

refer to the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) for inquiry and report, pursuant to s 20(1) of the Australian Law Reform Commission Act 1996 (Cth), a review of the future acts regime in the Native Title Act (Part 2, Division 3 of the Native Title Act).

In particular, the ALRC is asked to consider:

  • the intention of the Native Title Act, as stated in its preamble, to be a special measure for the advancement of First Nations peoples, and to ensure native title holders are able to fully enjoy their rights and interests
  • the current operation of the future acts regime, including Indigenous land use agreements (ILUAs), and related parts of the Native Title Act, with the aim of rectifying any inefficacy, inequality or unfairness
  • options for efficiencies in the future acts regime to reduce the time and cost of compliance for all parties
  • the rights and obligations recognised in the international instruments to which Australia is a party or which it has pledged to support, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • options within laws and legal frameworks to support native title groups to effectively engage with the future acts regime and to support consensus within groups in relation to proposed future acts
  • options to support native title groups, project proponents and governments to share in the benefits of development on native title land, including opportunities for native title groups to lead or co-lead development, and for ensuring native title groups receive commensurate and timely compensation for the diminution of native title rights and interests caused by future acts
  • options for how the future acts regime can support fair negotiations and encourage proponents and native title groups to work collaboratively in relation to future acts
  • the different levels of procedural rights of native title groups in relation to different types of future acts and whether these are appropriately aligned with the impacts on native title rights and interests
  • whether the Native Title Act appropriately provides for new and emerging industries engaging in future acts
  • the National Native Title Tribunal’s role in relation to future acts
  • how the rights in the future acts regime compare with other land rights regimes, such as the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth), and any relevant international approaches
  • options to strengthen data collection and appropriate data transparency to support the operation of the future acts regime.

The ALRC is asked to conduct the review with regard to the Socio-economic Outcomes and Priority Reforms of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

In undertaking its review, the ALRC should consider any findings and recommendations of inquiries, review processes and reports that the ALRC considers relevant, including other work underway to address recommendations arising from the A Way Forward report.


The ALRC should identify and consult key users of the native title system, including native title holders, future acts proponents, relevant government departments and agencies and other non-government stakeholders.


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