Northern Australia White Paper: Pilot reforms to land tenure

The Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia outlines an ambitious plan to develop northern Australia. It is an essential part of our plan for a strong, prosperous economy, and a safe and secure Australia.

We are working with northern jurisdictions, Indigenous communities and businesses to simplify and modernise land arrangements in the north. The arrangements will bring more certainty for investors, create opportunities for Indigenous economic activity, and increase the value and productive use of land for all Australians.

To do this, the Australian Government has allocated $10.6 million over four years to support some pilot reforms. The reforms will broaden commercial development on land in northern Australia and increase the diversity of activity in business and Indigenous communities.

This funding also supports a new web-based, business friendly guide to tenure in northern Australia developed by Austrade. The guide includes a general introduction to systems of land tenure and native title in northern Australia, and information about working with and engaging Indigenous communities.

Funding is available for new pilots, which should be completed by 30 June 2019.

Proposals should focus on Indigenous land holders and deliver practical improvements to their communities.

Proposals need to demonstrate effective processes and lessons learnt so these can provide guidance and be applied to other communities across the north.

You should contact the Department’s Regional Network on 1800 079 098 to discuss your ideas.

Current projects

The Australian Government is currently supporting the following land tenure reform pilots:

The different land tenure reform pilots currently undertaken by the Australian Government, imposed over an image of Australia divided by state lines. Emphasis is placed on Broome, Darwin and Cairns in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.

Northern Territory

Accessible information about interests in Aboriginal land

This project will make information more available to support planning, investment and business activities on Aboriginal land and in remote communities. To do this, the Northern Territory Government will work with Land Councils to enter existing interest in Aboriginal land into the Territory’s Integrated Land Information System and Bushtel system. 

Baniyala Land Ownership and Management

The Baniyala community in northeast Arnhem Land will take steps towards direct management of their lands, supporting home ownership and other economic activity.


Moa Island tenure resolution

This project will support commercial and housing tenure resolution on Moa, the second largest island in the Torres Strait.  Funding will facilitate a community-led process, including negotiation of one or more agreements to secure tenure change, address classes of future acts, settle compensation issues and resolve traditional land boundaries.

Mossman Gorge tenure resolution and infrastructure upgrade

The project will create new tenure arrangements to facilitate home ownership across the community, business development and deliver municipal upgrades. This will include employment for local Indigenous people during construction, certainty of responsibility for the delivery of municipal services, and creating public roads in the community to support better policing and community safety.

Western Australia

Economic development & investment on broad acre Indigenous Land

KRED Enterprises will work with traditional owners to develop options, and progress tenure reform and economic development in Frazier Downs Station/Karajarri Traditional Land Association Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC lands and land in which the Bardi Jawi People have an interest.

Long term, secure and tradeable land tenure

Aboriginal land in Kimberley-based communities will develop different models of land holding and administration. This will promote home ownership pathways and Indigenous economic development.

Locations in Northern Australia to be determined

Economic mapping of Indigenous lands

In partnership with the National Native Title Council and selected Indigenous communities CSIRO will work with three case study communities to develop investment-ready prospectuses that can establish and sustain land- and water-based Indigenous enterprise on Indigenous lands.

Case studies of Indigenous land resources

The National Native Title Council will provide a report detailing case studies which have demonstrated the development of Indigenous land related resources. This will assist support PBCs by reviewing success factors and barriers and assist industry and other stakeholders to work with communities to achieve commercial outcomes and economic benefits. The Council will also develop a series of communication tools for PBCs which set out key findings and pathways for direct community use. 

Latest News


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain images and voices of deceased people.