What the Central Land Council does

The CLC works in some of the most remote areas of Australia

The Central Land Council is a Commonwealth Government statutory authority covering the entire southern half of the Northern Territory - an area of 776,549 square kilometres.

Of this, traditional Aboriginal landowners own 407,985 square kilometres of Aboriginal freehold land under the Aboriginal Land rights Act.

This represents 52 per cent of the land covered by the CLC's nine regions. The CLC operates under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 and it is also a recognised Native Title Representative Body under the Native Title Act 1993.

As a Commonwealth statutory authority the CLC is subject to the provisions of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997.

The Central Land Council provides a number of services for the benefit of traditional owners and other Aboriginal residents of the CLC region, including:

  • Providing a strong voice for the Aboriginal people of Central Australia.
  • Helping Aboriginal people get back country.
  • Helping Aboriginal people manage their land
  • Consulting with landowners on mining activity, employment, development and other land use proposals
  • Protecting Aboriginal culture and sacred sites.
  • Assisting with economic projects on Aboriginal land.
  • Promoting community development and improving service delivery.
  • Fighting for legal recognition of Aboriginal people's rights.
  • Helping resolve land disputes, native title claims and compensation cases.
  • Running the permit system for visitors to Aboriginal land

Some of the functions and responsibilities of the four Land Councils in the NT are set out in the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976

Section 23 of the Act says the functions of a Land Council are to:

  • Find out and express the wishes of Aboriginal people about the management of their land and legislation about their land.
  • Protect the interests of traditional Aboriginal owners of, and other Aborigines interested in, Aboriginal land; assist Aboriginal people to protect sacred sites, whether or not on Aboriginal land.
  • Consult traditional Aboriginal landowners and other Aborigines interested in Aboriginal land about proposals for the use of their land. Negotiate on behalf of traditional landowners with people interested in using Aboriginal land and land under claim.
  • Assist Aboriginal people claiming land and, in particular, arrange and pay for legal assistance for them.
  • Keep a register of Land Council members and members of Aboriginal Land Trusts and descriptions of Aboriginal land.
  • Supervise and assist Aboriginal Land Trusts. In carrying out its functions, the Land Council must consult with traditional landowners and other Aborigines with an interest in the land. Landowners must give their consent before the Land Council enters into an agreement, or takes any action affecting their land. The Land Councils also have statutory responsibilities and duties to:
  • Attempt to conciliate a dispute between Aborigines regarding land matters.
  • Hold in trust, and distribute to Aboriginal associations, statutory payments from the ABTA to communities affected by mining operations and income received on behalf of landowners under negotiated agreements.
  • Process applications for permits to enter Aboriginal land.

Other functions include responding to applications to explore for minerals on Aboriginal land under Part IV of the Act  and  to assist Aboriginals in the area of the Land Council to carry out commercial activities (including resource development, the provision of tourist facilities and agricultural activities), in any manner that will not cause the Land Council to incur financial liability or enable it to receive financial benefit


Some functions of the CLC are set out as a Native Title Representative Body under the Native Title Act.