New ALRC Commissioner appointed and Final Terms of Reference announced for the Native Title Inquiry

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) welcomes the appointment by the Federal Attorney-General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP, of Professor Lee Godden as a Commissioner to lead the ALRC’s recently announced Inquiry into the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth).

Professor Godden has had a distinguished university teaching and research career spanning more than twenty years. She is a member of the Academic Advisory Group, Section on Energy, Environment, Resources and Infrastructure Law, of the International Bar Association.  Most recently, she has held a number of Australian Research Council Discovery and Linkage Grants, including being part of the team of investigators for the Agreements, Treaties and Negotiated Settlements (ATNS) project at the University of Melbourne. This project, in its tenth year, has examined agreement making with Indigenous peoples in Australia and internationally. Professor Godden has published widely in the areas of Environmental Law, Property and Indigenous people’s land rights and native title.

The Terms of Referencefor this Inquiry ask the ALRC to review the connection requirements relating to the recognition and scope of native title rights and interests and any barriers to access to justice for claimants, potential claimants and respondents imposed by the Native Title Act’s authorisation and joinder provisions. The ALRC has been asked to consider the Act and any other relevant legislation, including how laws and legal frameworks operate in practice; any relevant case law; relevant reports, reviews and inquiries regarding the native title system and the practical implementation of recommendations and findings; the interests of key stakeholders; and any other relevant matter concerning the operation of the native title system.

ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher stated, “Professor Godden has extensive experience in this complex area of law and I am delighted to welcome her to the ALRC to lead this Inquiry and the wide-ranging consultation process that it will involve.

Community consultation lies at the heart of the ALRC’s process and the Terms of Reference require us to undertake widespread community consultation with the many interested stakeholders. I am confident that whatever recommendations the ALRC eventually puts forward will be based on an extensive and in-depth conversation with the community. The ALRC starts all of its inquiries with questions. Ensuring that we listen, and are open to the experiences and opinions of the many people involved in the Native Title area, will be crucial to helping us to navigate all the issues. I am pleased to be able to rely on the experienced hand of Professor Godden to steer this Inquiry over the next eighteen months.”

The ALRC expects to release a first consultation paper for this Inquiry towards the end of November. The ALRC will provide regular updates about the progress of this inquiry. Subscribe to the Native Title Inquiry on the ALRC website.  Further information about the ALRC’s inquiry work can be found at

The ALRC must provide its final report to the Attorney-General by March 2015.