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TRADITIONAL OWNERS

Since the enactment of the ALRA and the NTA, approximately 50 per cent of land in the Northern Territory has become legally Aboriginal-owned, including 85 per cent of the Territory’s coastline.

A large proportion of the remaining land mass is subject to Native Title. The NLC’s key constituents are the Traditional Owners within its region. About 36,000 Aboriginal people live in the region, and 80 per cent live in regional and remote areas – in nearly 200 communities, ranging in size from small family outstations to communities with populations of about 3000.

The majority of Aboriginal people in the NLC region speak an Aboriginal language as their first language. Many are multilingual, and English is often way down the list of everyday languages. Customary law continues to be practised in many communities within the region.

Many major resource developments are taking place on Aboriginal and Native Title lands. These developments have included the construction of gas pipelines, army training areas, national parks and pastoral activities. Mining and petroleum exploration and development projects continue to increase business. The challenge for the NLC is to ensure that social, economic and cultural opportunities and benefits flow to Aboriginal people from these developments. Aboriginal people are keen to take part in planning and development activities while at the same time protecting their cultural integrity.