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The CLC is a Commonwealth entity operating under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth) (the Land Rights Act, or the ALRA) and as a Native Title Representative Body under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (the Native Title Act).

The CLC has performed its statutory functions with outstanding success, capturing more than 417,000 square kilometres of land as Aboriginal freehold under the Land Rights Act.

From 1983, as land began to be returned to its traditional owners, the CLC invested increasingly in land management to enable traditional owners to benefit from opportunities on their land, and deal with threats to the land’s cultural and natural values. The CLC has supported traditional owners’ aspirations in the areas of pastoral activity, feral animal control, fire management and biodiversity conservation.

These activities are at the heart of the CLC’s community development program – a program that is now the leading example of similar programs in the country.

More and more, constituents use income from land use agreements to build and maintain infrastructure and to fund community-driven education and culture initiatives that benefit constituents.

The CLC is one of four Northern Territory land councils operating under the Land Rights Act. It carries out its statutory functions across the southern half of the NT – some 780,000 square kilometres. Its members belong to more than 15 language groups.

A 90-member council governs the CLC. The council representatives are elected from Aboriginal communities across the CLC’s region and meet three times a year in various bush locations. Council delegates many of its functions to a nine-member executive committee elected by council members and headed by the chair and deputy chair.

The CLC consults with Aboriginal landowners on mining, land management, tourism, employment and other development proposals for their land.

It operates under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth) (the PGPA Act) and every year is audited by the Australian National Audit Office.

In 2019–20 ABA funding comprised $23.5 million of the CLC’s total revenue of $52.4 million. Total operating expenses were $46.2 million, and capital expenditure was $3.7 million. The CLC is one of the largest employers of Aboriginal people in the NT. It employs 248.3 fulltime-equivalent staff, of whom 49 per cent are Aboriginal.