Land councils, also known as land and sea councils, are Australian community organisations, generally organised by region, that are commonly formed to represent the Indigenous Australians who occupied their particular region before the arrival of European settlers. They have historically advocated for recognition of traditional land rights, and also for the rights of Indigenous people in other areas such as equal wages and adequate housing. Some states, such as the Northern Territory, have laws that provide for the existence of land councils and allocate them responsibilities for representing Aboriginal people in various matters. Other states do not have such laws, or have laws that provide for the existence of Aboriginal organisations that do not call themselves land councils to provide functions similar to those provided by land councils in some states. An example of this is in Victoria, where there are laws providing for organisations called 'Registered Aboriginal Parties', which provide functions in relation to Aboriginal people similar to those provided by land councils in, say, the Northern Territory.
Most land councils provide representation and organisation in relation to native title matters for Indigenous Australians, and receive funding from the Australian Commonwealth Government to do this work. However, Commonwealth native title laws do not require such representation and organisation to be provided by land councils, and there are many other sorts of organisations that also provide these sorts of services.
Most land councils were formed since the late 1970s to gain native title and other forms of Aboriginal land rights.
Some land councils can be governed by other, larger councils, which federate multiple local land councils for representation at the state and federal level.
List of current councils by state
New South Wales
- Central Land Council covering the southern part of mainland Northern Territory
- Northern Land Council covering the Top End, the northern part of mainland Northern Territory
- the Tiwi Land Council covering Bathurst and Melville Islands north of Darwin
- the Anindilyakawa Land Council covering Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
- North Queensland Land Council
- Central Queensland Land Council
- Torres Strait Regional Authority
- Cape York Land Council
- Barengi Gadjin Land Council Aboriginal Corporation
- Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation
- Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation
- Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation
- Martang Party Ltd
- Taungurung Clans Aboriginal Corporation
- Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation
- Wurundjeri Tribe Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council
- Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporations
- South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council
- Yamatji Bana Baaba Marlpa Land and Sea Council
- Goldfields Land and Sea Aboriginal Council Corporation
- Kimberley Land Council
- Ngaanyatjarra Council (Aboriginal Corporation)
- "Registered Aboriginal Parties". State of Victoria, Department of Premier and Cabinet. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
- Proposed, successfully granted and declined land councils from the Department for Victorian Communities' Aboriginal Heritage Council website
- Land councils
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Reports 1994-2008 and Native Title Reports 1994-2008 for more information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs.