As the State's peak representative body in Aboriginal Affairs, the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council aims to protect the interests and further the aspirations of its members and the broader Aboriginal community. NSWALC is the largest member based Aboriginal organisation in NSW.

The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) is committed to ensuring a better future for Aboriginal people by working for the return of culturally significant and economically viable land, pursuing cultural, social and economic independence for its people and being politically proactive and voicing the position of Aboriginal people on issues that affect them.

Aims and Objectives

The Constitution, Objects and Functions of NSWALC are set out in Part 7 of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (1983).

These essentially give NSWALC the mandate to provide for the development of land rights for Aboriginal people in NSW, in conjunction with a network of Local Aboriginal Land Councils through:

  • Land acquisition either by land claim or purchase
  • Establishment of commercial enterprises and community benefit schemes to create a sustainable economic base for Aboriginal communities
  • Maintenance and enhancement of Aboriginal culture, identity and heritage (including the management of traditional sites and cultural materials within NSW).

NSWALC also acts as an advisor to, and negotiates with, Governments, and other stakeholders, to ensure the preservation of Aboriginal land rights.

Under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (1983), NSWALC is empowered to do the following:

  • administer the NSWALC Account and Mining Royalties Account
  • grant funds for payment of the administrative costs and expenses of Local Aboriginal Land Councils.
  • acquire land on its own behalf or on behalf of, or to be vested in, Local Aboriginal Land Councils
  • determine and approve/reject the terms and conditions of agreements proposed by Local Aboriginal Land Councils to allow mining or mineral exploration on Aboriginal land
  • make claims on Crown lands, either on its own behalf or at the request of Local Aboriginal Land Councils
  • with the agreement of the particular LALC, manage any of the affairs of that Council
  • conciliate disputes between Aboriginal Land Councils or between Councils and individuals or between individual members of those Councils
  • make grants, lend money or invest money on behalf of Aboriginal people
  • hold, dispose of or otherwise deal with land vested in or acquired by NSWALC
  • ensure Local Aboriginal Land Councils comply with the Act in respect of the establishment and keeping of accounts and the preparation and submission of budgets and financial reports
  • advise the Minister on matters relating to Aboriginal land rights
  • exercise such other functions as conferred or imposed on it by or under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (1983) or any other Act.

The State's Land Council network operates as a two tiered structure, comprising the peak body, NSWALC, which operates from Parramatta and five of Zone offices in Dubbo, Queanbeyan, Coffs Harbour, Broken Hill and Gosford, and 120 Local Aboriginal Land Councils, which are governed by elected Boards.

Every four years, voting members of Local Aboriginal Land Councils vote for a Councillor to represent their region. 

Organisation Structure

To support the elected representatives at both NSWALC and Local Aboriginal Land Councils and run the organisation's extensive land council network, NSWALC has a small administrative arm headed by Chief Executive Officer, Mr James Christian.

The Chief Executive Officer has the delegated authority of the Council to assume responsibility for all aspects of the day to day operation of the Council's affairs.

How We Are Funded

A NSWALC Statutory Investment Fund was established under the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act (1983).

For fifteen years - from 1 January 1984 to 31 December 1998 - the Act provided for guaranteed funding through the payment of an amount equivalent to 7.5 per cent of NSW Land Tax (on non-residential land) to NSWALC, as compensation for land lost by the Aboriginal people of NSW.

During this period, half of the funds were available for land acquisition and administration. The remainder was deposited into a statutory account to build a capital fund to provide ongoing funding in the future.

The network is not, as is widely believed, funded by the taxpayers of NSW.

The total funds allocated were $537 million. Of this amount $268.5m was deposited in the Statutory Account.

Since 1998, NSWALC and the land council network have been self-supporting.

Click on the link to read more about Land Rights in NSW: Success Stories in Aboriginal Lands Rights in NSW