Land councils, also known as Aboriginal land councils, or land and sea councils, are Australian community organisations, generally organised by region, that are commonly formed to represent the Indigenous Australians (both Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islander people) who occupied their particular region before the arrival of European settlers. They have historically advocated for recognition of traditional land rights, and also for the rights of Indigenous people in other areas such as equal wages and adequate housing. They are created under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976.

Some states, such as the Northern Territory, have laws that provide for the existence of land councils and allocate them responsibilities for representing Aboriginal people in various matters. Other states do not have such laws, or have laws that provide for the existence of Aboriginal organisations that do not call themselves land councils, to provide functions similar to those provided by land councils in some states. An example of this is in Victoria, where there are laws providing for organisations called "Registered Aboriginal Parties", which provide functions in relation to Aboriginal people similar to those provided by land councils in other states and the NT.

Most land councils provide representation and organisation in relation to native title matters for Indigenous people, and receive funding from the Australian Federal Government to do this work. (However, federal native title laws do not require such representation and organisation to be provided by land councils, and there are other types of organisations that also provide these kind of services.) Most land councils were formed from the late 1970s onwards, to gain native title and other forms of Aboriginal land rights.

Some land councils are governed by other, larger councils, which federate multiple local land councils for representation at the state and federal level.

List of current councils by state

New South Wales

Northern Territory


South Australia



As of July 2019, the 11 Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) cover around 66% of the state. They are:[1]

Western Australia

See also


  1. ^ "Victoria's current Registered Aboriginal Parties". Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council. 31 July 2019. Retrieved 23 February 2020.

External links