The Aboriginal Land Rights Act
The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 was the first attempt by an Australian government to legally recognise the Aboriginal system of land ownership and put into law the concept of inalienable freehold title. The Land Rights Act is a fundamental piece of social reform.
The latest European scientific reports date Aboriginal occupation of northern Australia from at least 60,000 years ago but it was a little over one hundred years ago that the first missionaries and mineral prospectors arrived in Central Australia . They were soon joined by government officers and pastoralists with cattle and sheep which fouled the waterholes and grazed on the bush tucker Aboriginal people relied on. Aboriginal people resisted the colonisation of their land.
The Whitlam Government introduced legislation based substantially on Woodward’s recommendations.
The functions and responsibilities of the Land Councils are set out in the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976