Native title

Role of the National Native Title Tribunal

The National Native Title Tribunal is an agency established by the Native Title Act 1993. The Tribunal's statutory functions include the conducting of inquiries, reviews and mediations, and arbitral and administrative decision making responsibilities. The Tribunal also assists various parties with native title applications and Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUA's). The ILUA Register is available through the National Native Title Tribunal.

Specifically, the role of the Tribunal under the right to negotiate provisions include:

  • to mediate between the parties
  • to conduct an inquiry and make a determination in certain circumstances.

The Tribunal is supported by the Native Title Registrar who, amongst other statutory responsibilities, maintains registers for claims, determinations, and ILUAs.

For more information about engaging with traditional owner groups, refer to the engagement guide.

Native Title Representative Bodies/ Service Providers

The Native Title Act establishes the regulatory and legal framework for the operation of Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs) and Native Title Service Providers (NTSPs).

NTRB/SPs are organisations recognised and funded by the Australian Government to perform a variety of functions under the Native Title Act. These functions include:

  • assisting in native title claims resolution
  • future acts and agreement making
  • managing native title
  • supporting the use of native title to achieve cultural, social and economic outcomes
  • other activities related to their broader regional functions unrelated to native title.

Native Title Service Providers (NTSP) are funded by the Australian Government in areas where no NTRB is appointed. NTSPs provide the same functions as an NTRB. It is common for NTRBs and NTSPs to be referred to interchangeably for this reason. The NTRBs and NTSPs areas are mapped across Australia and are available on the Native Title Tribunal website.

Prescribed Bodies Corporate

A PBC is a body nominated by native title holders which will represent them and manage their native title rights and interests once a determination that native title exists has been made. Once the court determines that the corporation is to be the PBC, it is entered onto the National Native Title Register and is then known as an RNTBC. These terms are also often used interchangeably.

PBC functions and obligations are regulated by:

The Native Title (Prescribed Bodies Corporate) Regulations 1999 enables PBCs to charge a fee for costs incurred in providing native title related services to third parties.

In addition, State and Territory legislation also interact with the rights and interests of native title holders. Therefore, while there are prescribed activities that are listed in the legislation, PBCs have constitutions and mandates that reflect broader community aspirations and needs in each State and Territory.

The National Registered Native Title Bodies Corporate website lists the PBCs registered in each State, including profiles on PBCs.