Native Title – Issue 5 – June 2014

Issue 5 | 30 June 2014. View original format

Thank you!

We’d like to thank all the individuals and organisations who made submissions in response to the Issues Paper. They represent a valuable contribution to this Inquiry and will help us further develop our thinking as we work towards a Discussion Paper.  We received over 35 submissions, and these are available for viewing on the ALRC website.


One of the questions in the Inquiry’s Issues Paper asked how the implementation of native title varies across Australia. With more than 110 consultations under its belt, the ALRC Team has been able to find some answers to this question themselves.  We are taking very seriously the mandate to consult widely: we have conducted consultations in all States and Territories – except Tasmania – and we will travel there in the next round! We have met with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander native title representative bodies, governments at all levels, industry, community, specialists such as anthropologists, researchers and academics; and with Aboriginal leaders. We have given media interviews to raise awareness about the inquiry as part of these visits. The team has gained a strong appreciation of how native title ‘works on the ground’.

The Native Title Conference

The ALRC team completed the extensive round of consultations across Australia with attendance at the Native Title Conference, Living with Native Title, from the Bush to the Sea in Coffs Harbour, NSW, from 2 – 4 June 2014. The conference also marked the 50 year anniversary of AIATSIS, the organisation charged with fostering research about Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. The conference was a large gathering of many people involved in the native title system from all over Australia. The presentations were of very high quality and covered a diversity of native title law and practice. Attending the conference and speaking with delegates brought the ALRC team to a better understanding of how the laws around connection, authorisation and joinder form part of a wider process.

The team presented an overview of the ALRC Inquiry and explained key questions identified in the Issues Paper, including seeking people’s views on the underlying problems surrounding connection and proof of native title, authorisation and group membership, as well as the position of third parties seeking to join a native title claim. At the end of the session the team fielded questions from the floor. Feedback received from this session and information gained from the conference generally will be ‘put into the mix’ together with consultations and public submissions as we start writing the Discussion Paper.

Australasian Law Reform Agencies Conference (ALRAC)

Australasian law reform agencies take it in turns to host ALRAC, which is held once every two years. This year the Samoa Law Reform Commission hosted ALRAC from 28 – 30 May 2014 in Apia, Samoa. The theme was ‘Challenges of Law Reform in the Pacific’, with the first day of the program being devoted to ‘Western Laws versus Customary Laws’, the second day concerning ‘Challenges to Customary Law’ and the final day focusing on ‘The Way Forward’. Three members of the Native Title Team attended the conference and enjoyed meeting with contemporaries in other law reform agencies–particularly a number from Pacific nations. Senior Legal Officer Justine Clarke and Legal Officer Julie MacKenzie presented on the first day. The topic of their presentation was ‘Looking backward, looking forward: The ALRC’s inquiries about customary law’. The presentation discussed the Aboriginal Customary Laws Report of 1986 and the current Native Title Inquiry. The audience was particularly interested in the Native Title Inquiry, and the team found it very helpful to hear perspectives from across the Pacific.