Aboriginal Land Trust

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In Australia, an Aboriginal Land Trust (ALT) is a type of non-profit organisation that holds the freehold title to an area of land on behalf of a community of Aboriginal Australians. The land has been legally granted to a community by the government under a perpetual lease, usually after the community makes a formal claim of traditional ownership. Land granted under Aboriginal title is inalienable; it can not be bought, sold, traded or given away. The Land Trust is the organisation appointed by the community to legally hold the title deeds.

Establishment and operation of Aboriginal land trusts[edit]

Several states and territories have enacted laws to establish Aboriginal Land Trusts, but not all.

Northern Territory[edit]

In the Northern Territory, Land Trusts are governed under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, 1976, which also governs the way in which groups can make claims to land. The ALTs hold the title to land handed back to the traditional Aboriginal owners through the Land Rights Act.


In Queensland, there are multiple Land Trusts. They were created under the state's Aboriginal Land Act 1991.[citation needed]

South Australia[edit]

In South Australia, there is a single statutory body known as the Aboriginal Lands Trust. It was created under the Aboriginal Lands Trust Act 1966. It holds title to Aboriginal land in South Australia and oversees the management and control of those lands including the ability to issue a lease over lands for 99 years to an "incorporated community body". The Government of South Australia is also able to transfer other crown land to the control of the Trust.[1][2][3]

The Lands Trust Act 1966 was the first land rights law in modern times and predated the 1967 Referendum. It allowed for parcels of Aboriginal land previously held by the South Australian Government to be handed to the Aboriginal Lands Trust of SA under the Act. It was held in perpetuity for the benefit of Aboriginal South Australians. The Trust was governed by a Board composed solely of Aboriginal people. In the 2013 Review of the Act, the powers of the Trust were reviewed and changed to modernise the Trust and the Aboriginal Lands Trust of South Australia Act 2013 (SA) was passed.[4][5]

Western Australia[edit]

The Aboriginal Lands Trust in Western Australia was created by the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972. It acquires and holds land and manages it for the benefit of Aboriginal communities. It holds about 27 million hectares (67×10^6 acres) (11%) of the state's land, most of which was previously held by the state government.[6]


  1. ^ "About us". Aboriginal Lands Trust. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  2. ^ "Aboriginal Lands Trust". Agreements, Treaties and Negotiated Settlements Project. Indigenous Studies Program, The University of Melbourne. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  3. ^ Aboriginal Lands Trust Act 1966. South Australian Acts (Point-in-Time). Retrieved on 29 January 2012.
  4. ^ "Aboriginal Lands Trust Act 1966". Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) South Australian Acts (Point-in-Time). 1 February 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  5. ^ "Aboriginal Lands Trust Act 1966 (SA)". Documenting A Democracy. Museum of Australian Democracy. 8 December 1966. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  6. ^ "Aboriginal Lands Trust". Government of Western Australia, Department of Indigenous Affairs. Archived from the original on 9 April 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2013.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]