NSWALC was established in the 1970s to assist in the fight for land rights. It was formally constituted as a statutory corporation under the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Rights Act in 1983.
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.
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.