Summary publication

Native Title Reports

Under the Native Title Act 1993, the Social Justice Commissioner is required to prepare a Native Title Report each year for federal Parliament. Through these reports the Commissioner gives a human rights perspective on native title issues and advocates for practical co-existence between Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups in using land.

From 2013 the Native Title Report  and Social Justice Report are combined in the one publication.

Access the following reports via the links below:


Native Title Report 2011


Native Title Report 2010


Native Title Report 2009


Native Title Report 2008


Native Title Report 2007


Native Title Report 2006


Native Title Report 2005

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner, Tom Calma, argues in the Native Title Report 2005 that the Australian Government's proposal to encourage individual leases on Indigenous land will not necessarily lead to improved economic outcomes for Indigenous people. The report assesses the issues and the potential impacts of the Indigenous land leasing proposal, as well as providing some alternative economic development strategies and initiatives.

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Native Title Report 2004

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma said that native title needs to move beyond the current legal framework towards achieving the economic and social development goals of Indigenous peoples. He made the comments following the release of the Native Title Report 2004, which provides a set of principles that aim to build economic and social development opportunities from the recognition of traditional rights, interests and ownership of land.

Read the Native Title Report 2004 and supporting materials.


Native Title Report 2003

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Dr William Jonas outlined an agenda for change to Indigenous policy in the Native Title Report 2003. The report considers the role of native title in achieving economic and social development for native title parties. It asks the question 'what would a government and a native title claimant group discuss if the agreed aim of the native title process was the realisation of the claimant group's right to sustainable development?"

Read the Native Title Report 2003 and supporting materials.


Native Title Report 2002

The High Court's decisions in Yarmirr, Miriuwung Gajerrong, Wilson v Anderson and Yorta Yorta clarify the law with respect to the recognition and extinguishment of native title. The consequences of the law of native title for Indigenous people are now starkly apparent. It is thus timely that the 2002 Native Title Report evaluates these principles against the human rights standards to which Australia is committed under international law. Such an evaluation reveals fundamental shortcomings within the native title system. Reform is necessary to ensure that the law of native title is consistent with international law and while this can occur through legislative amendment at the State or Federal level, other approaches, such as regional agreements, can also provide a means by which Indigenous rights and interests are recognised and protected.

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Native Title Report 2001

Click on the links below to access Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Dr William Jonas' annual review of native title developments in Australia.


Native Title Report 2000

The 2000 Native Title Report of Dr Jonas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, finds that Australian law of native title, both the common law and statute provide insufficient protection to the relationship that the Indigenous peoples of Australia have with their traditional land and sea country. In Australia, non-Indigenous interests will always prevail over Indigenous interests in the same area. While this discriminatory treatment of Indigenous peoples is of concern what is even more worrying is that, even where minor clashes occur between Indigenous and non-Indigenous rights, native title will be extinguished forever in order to give non-Indigenous interests full enjoyment of their title. Both the common law and the legislation governing native title permit this extreme discrimination to occur.

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Native Title Report 1999

The Native Title Report 1999 considers the principles upheld by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), namely equality and the requirement that the government negotiate with Indigenous people over native title legislation. In view of these principles the report agrees with the findings of the CERD Committee that amendments to the Native Title Act are discriminatory.

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Native Title Report 1998

The fifth Native Title Report is the first report of the Acting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Ms Zita Antonios. The report focuses on the amendments to the Native Title Act 1993 which were passed on 8 July 1998. The report evaluates the amendments against principles of equality and non-discrimination. It considers whether the amendments comply with Australia's international human rights obligations as well as considering emerging international standards (such as the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People). It contrasts the meaning of equality within a human rights framework with the notion of equality used to justify certain amendments to the right to negotiate provisions of the Native Title Act. The report also examines a number of agreements that have been reached through the native title process to date, and highlights the very real outcomes that have been achieved through negotiation.

  • Download the Native Title Report 1998 in PDF (405K), Word (439K)

Native Title Report: July 1996 - June 1997

The fourth Native Title Report described the essential contribution of Indigenous Australians to the development of the pastoral industry, and the long history of black and white Australians living and working side by side on pastoral properties. It went on to provide a comprehensive analysis of the Wik case. Two chapters of the report were devoted to analysis of the draft Native Title Amendment Bill released by the Federal Government in June 1997, and described the 'bucket-loads of extinguishment' which would result from key elements of the proposed legislation. The report concluded by explaining why, in the Commissioner's view, the Bill failed to meet non-discrimination standards under international law and was of doubtful constitutionality.

Download the Native Title Report 1997 in PDF (478K), Word (535K)


Native Title Report: July 1995 - June 1996

The third Native Title Report focused exclusively on the amendments outlined in the Federal Government's discussion paper, Towards a More Workable Native Title Act, and the Native Title Amendment Bill 1996. A central theme of the report was that any amendments should not infringe the human rights of Indigenous peoples or be racially discriminatory. The report expressed particular concerns regarding amendments relating to:

  • the NTA's 'right to negotiate' process; and
  • the conversion of pastoral lease terms to permit expanded categories of land use without negotiation with native title holders.

The report also contained detailed analysis from a human rights perspective of proposed amendments to other aspects of the NTA. Proposals were put forward for legislative amendments which would promote the recognition of native title rights.

This report is unavailable electronically. Hard copies can be purchased through the Commission's Publications Unit.


Native Title Report: July 1994 - June 1995

The second Native Title Report explored several issues in depth. It examined the system contained in the NTA for the recognition and protection of native title, and considered its adequacy from the perspective of Indigenous peoples. It explored means for facilitating native title claims and for ensuring that the process for determining claims does not infringe native title holders' rights. Mediation processes under the NTA were examined, focusing on problems which are caused by power imbalances between Indigenous claimants and other stakeholders. The report discussed the importance of the statutory 'right to negotiate' scheme to the protection of Indigenous human rights, and analysed problems in the practical operation of the scheme. Methods for promoting negotiation and land use agreements were also put forward.

This report is unavailable electronically. Hard copies can be purchased through the Commission's Publications Unit.


Native Title Report: January - June 1994

The first Native Title Report dealt with the period from the commencement of the NTA on 1 January 1994 to 30 June 1994, and focused on the operation and human rights aspects of the NTA in its implementation phase. It specifically focused on the NTA; human rights issues; the extinguishment of native title; the National Native Title Tribunal; economic and resource management issues; and community awareness of native title.