Aboriginal Affairs NSW Land Rights

The Aboriginal Land Rights Act, 1983 also known as ALRA, provides land rights for Aboriginal people in NSW.

A NSW Government staffer washing the smoke of s moke ceremony over them



Aboriginal Affairs NSW acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the lands where we work and the places in which we live. We pay respect to Ancestors and Elders past and present. We recognise the unique cultural and spiritual relationship and celebrate the contributions of First Nations peoples to Australia.

The Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (ALRA)

The ALRA provides a system for Aboriginal communities to regain ownership of certain lands in NSW.

The ALRA recognises the traditional ownership of the land by Aboriginal peoples. It acknowledges the importance of their connection to the land. This connection is spiritual, social, cultural, and economic.

The ALRA acknowledges that past governments have progressivly reduced Aboriginal land without payment. It also recognises the rights of Aboriginal people and enables self determination.

Aboriginal communities in NSW can claim land through Aboriginal Land Councils (ALC's). ALC's oversee the land on behalf of communities to deliver positive outcomes. They are groups of elected Aboriginal peoples over 18 years old.

Aboriginal Affairs works to support Aboriginal land justice action. The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs adminsiters the Act.

The Minister responsible for the Crown Land Management Act 2016 approves land claims.

Aboriginal based artwork which describes the ALRA journey and connection to NSW Country and Community

Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (ALRA)

Find out more about the ALRA and how it is governed and administrated.

The Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 

Photography by Peter Stoop for Aboriginal Affairs NSW. 


Hand stencil art work on a rock face

Land claims

Aboriginal communities in NSW can claim land through Aboriginal Land Councils. The NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC), with assistance from the Office of the Registrar, has developed a helpful guide to the land claim process.


A group of people listening to a young man speaking, standing near a cliff overlooking the water

NSW Aboriginal Land Councils

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) manages the network of 121 Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALC) that represent Aboriginal communities across NSW.


Red dirt being passed between hands

Crown Lands

Aboriginal land councils can lodge Aboriginal land claims for ownership of some Crown land. Crown Lands facilitates the return of eligible land to Aboriginal land councils. Land claims are assessed and, if a claim is successful, transfers land ownership.

Registrar’s office

The Registrar helps maintain the ALRA Registers, approving rules for land councils and compliance.


Aboriginal Land Agreements

ALAs can settle multiple land claims at the same time, rather than determining claims one at a time. These agreements can also include payments, and land swaps that may include transfers of unclaimed Crown land.

Land rights history

A timeline of significant events in the history of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, 1983. 

Hunting, fishing, and gathering permits

Access to land for Aboriginal people to hunt, fish or gather can be negotiated by Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs). Any agreements must not break any other laws, rules, or regulations.

When agreements cannot be negotiated, access permits may be issued by the Land and Environment Court. The process to get a permit from the court is set out in section 48 of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983. Note Aboriginal Affairs NSW do not have a statutory function or ability to support LALCs seeking an access agreement or associated permit.

Brewarrina Fish Traps

ALRA Education and Training

The ALRA Education and Training Program aims to transform the current land claims process. It uplifts understanding, practice and knowledge of the ALRA in Government agencies who process land claims. Find out more about completing the training. 

Read more
This symbol represents the People coming together, and with the added wavy lines it represents radiating energy.

Contact Aboriginal Affairs

Office address: Level 6, 201 Coward Street, Mascot NSW 2020

Postal address: PO Box 207, Mascot NSW 2020

Phone:1800 019 998Business hours: 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday

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