Native title may exist in the following areas:

  • Vacant crown land
  • Some national parks, forests and public reserves
  • Some types of pastoral leases
  • Beaches, oceans, seas, reefs, lakes, rivers, creeks, swamps and other waters that are not privately owned.

Native title cannot take away anyone else’s valid rights, including private ownership of homes, holding a pastoral lease or having a mining licence.

Where native title rights and other rights of another person conflict, the rights of the other person always prevail.

The Australian legal system does not recognise native title rights in areas where things have been done to extinguish native title.

Extinguishment occurs by valid government acts that are inconsistent with native title rights and interests.

Areas where native title is extinguished include:

  • Privately owned land (including family homes and privately owned freehold farms)
  • Land covered by residential, commercial and certain other leases
  • Some crown reserves vested in bodies such as a local government or statutory authority
  • Areas where governments have built roads, schools and undertaken other public works