The Land Rights Act

Photo credit Peter Keepence Photography.

In 1976 the Australian Parliament passed the Aboriginal Land Rights (NorthernTerritory) Act. The Land Rights Act set in train a process where over half of the land in the Northern Territory was returned to the custodianship of its TraditionalOwners. In a long-overdue act of land justice, on 26 June 2021 the land on which the town of Jabiru stands returned to the care of the Mirarr Traditional Owners.

Land held under the Land Rights Act cannot be sold, it can only be leased. There is a special mechanism for leases where towns or communities are on Land Rights land, known as a township lease. A township lease can be held by a local Aboriginal corporation that has been approved for this purpose or by the Executive Director Township Leasing (for more information on how the EDTL works, see

In the case of Jabiru, Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation Jabiru Town (GACJT) holds the township lease. GACJT in turn issues subleases over the various lots of land in the town. GACJT is expected to operate commercially, setting rents based on the value of the land and supporting sensitive development in Jabiru while being mindful of Jabiru’s status as Aboriginal land and a town in the middle of a World Heritage area.

GACJT – duck graphic