This course provides an overview of native title law in Australia. It includes the common law concept of native title, as recognised in the High Court decisions in Mabo and Wik, and the statutory regimes for dealing with native title under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth).

Students will study issues regarding proof, extinguishment and the future dealings regime in native title legislation, and the interaction between cultural heritage and native title. Primarily focused on Australia, comparative references will be made to other common law jurisdictions. The role of International law and International Conventions in relation to Indigenous peoples' rights will also be reviewed.

Successful completion of this course should provide an understanding of the Native Title Act and awareness of the problems experienced by Indigenous peoples with regard to traditional lands and the Australian legal system.

Associate Professor Margaret Stephenson

Margaret Stephenson teaches property law, native title and comparative Indigenous legal issues at the TC Beirne School of Law. Prior to her academic career she practised as a solicitor in property law.

Margaret's research interests include native title law, comparative Indigenous rights and real property law. She has compiled and edited three books, Mabo: A Judicial Revolution, Mabo: The Native Title Legislation and Australia: Republic or Monarchy, and is a co-author of Land Law (3rd edition, Butterworths 2009). Her awards include an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning and a Vice-Chancellor's Award for Internationalisation.

Topics covered include:

  • the recognition of Aboriginal title at common law: Mabo and the Native Title Act
  • what is native title?
  • what are statutory Indigenous land rights?
  • when will native title be recognised?
  • settling native title claims, including issues of proof of native title
  • understanding the operation of the future dealings regime in the Native Title Act
  • consultation regimes in the context of resource development and negotiating a native title agreement
  • Indigenous cultural heritage in land and its relationship with native title
  • Indigenous land tenure reform issues
  • Indigenous rights in international law.

Course information

Course code

3 - 6 August 2017