Native Title Applications/Claims (Australia)


An application under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) for the legal recognition of the rights and interests held by Indigenous Australians over a particular area of land or waters, according to traditional laws and customs. Both Claimant and Non-claimant native title determination applications can be made under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), for a determination of native title over the area of the application.

Extended Definition

Indigenous Australians can make a Claimant Application, for recognition of their native title rights and interests by Australian law. A Compensation Application can be made for compensation by a government for “loss or impairment” of native title – this can only be decided after a native title determination has been made in the area.

Non-claimant applications can be made by persons who wish to have a determination of native title made over an area, but do not claim to hold native title themselves. This may be done to assist government or other interest holders in identifying native title holders in an area for future act processes, or to provide certainty in relation to areas where it is determined that no native title is held.Both claimant and non-claimant applications are notified to the public and provide interest-holders an opportunity to join as a party. Interest-holders can include: government; public service providers (Telstra, power or water corporations); pastoral and other land-related lease holders; mining and exploration companies; and community interests.

The Tribunal usually conducts mediation between the parties and in many cases the Federal Court may hold hearings, before a determination is made. Compensation applications follow a similar process of notification and negotiation/mediation however this is limited to the government and native tile parties. A determination about compensation can only be made after a native title determination has been made in the area.

Refer to the National Native Title Tribunal Fact Sheet What Happens When There Is a Native Title Application? for more information.