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Aboriginal Australia - Mabo, Wik and Native Title: Home

Resources relating to Native Title in Australia - the legislation, and landmark cases


Getting started

Native Title is the recognition in Australian law that, before European settlement, Aboriginal people were owners of the land and had a system of law.

The 1992 Mabo decision confirmed that Aboriginal people did own their lands before European settlement and that since settlement this ownership has continued in some circumstances.

Through the Mabo decision, the High Court overturned the idea of Terra Nullius and disputed that Australia belonged to no one before colonisation.

The 1996 Wik decision determined that Native Title could, in some circumstances coexist with some types of leasehold (such as pastoral).

This guide to sources relating to Native Title in Australia was last updated by Library staff in 2016. It comprises selected material held by the State Library or available online.

To find further material relevant to this topic, try searching with these subject headings in the State Library catalogue:

Aboriginal Australians - Land tenure
Native Title
For more assistance, talk with staff at the Library's Information Desk or Ask Us.

Talking stick: Native title

'Talking stick: Native Title' ABC 2010

Miriam Corowa is joined by Graeme Neate, President of the national native title tribunal, Monica Morgan, Yorta Yorta spokeswoman and elder, Yorta Yorta nation and Kim Hill, Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Land Council


The State Library has a number of electronic resources that are useful for finding articles relating to Native Title in Australia.

Some of these resources can only be accessed within the library and others can also be accessed from home by becoming a Home Access User.

Relevant resources include:

Browse articles online in the Aboriginal Law Bulletin and Indigenous Law Bulletin

Academic search complete General periodical index

Australian/New Zealand Reference centre  Newspaper and magazine articles from the recent past.

Australian Public Affairs Full Text General periodical index

Trove website provides word searchable access to historical Australian newspapers, mostly prior to 1955

Books and pamphlets

Aboriginal Land Council. Our land, our people, 1991.

Attwood, Bain. Rights for aborigines, 2003.

Attwood, Bain (ed.) In the age of Mabo : history, Aborigines and Australia, 1996.

Australian Law Reform Commission. Connection to country : review of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) : summary report, 2015. Also available online.

Bacheland, Michael. The great land grab: what every Australian should know about Wik, Mabo and the ten-point plan, 1997.

Bartlett, Richard. Native title in Australia, 2000.

Berg, Shaun (ed.) Coming to terms : Aboriginal title in South Australia, 2010.

Brennan, Frank. The Wik debate : its impact on aborigines, pastoralists and miners, 1998.

Butt, Peter. Mabo, Wik & native title (4th ed), 2001.

Choo, Christine and Hollback, Shawn (eds). History and native title, 2003.

Duff, Nick. What's needed to prove native title? : finding flexibility within the law on connection, 2014.

Goot, Murray and Rowse, Tim (eds). Make a better offer : the politics of Mabo, 1994.

Hiley, Graham. The Wik case : issues and implications, 1997.

Kauffman, Paul. Wik, mining and Aborigines, 1998.

Native Title Research Unit, AIATSIS. A guide to Australian legislation relevant to Native Title, 2000.

Reynolds, Henry. The law of the land (3rd ed.), 2003.

Ritter, David. The native title market, 2009.

Sharp, Nonie. No ordinary judgment : Mabo, the Murray Islanders' land case, 1996.

Toussaint, Sandy (ed.) Crossing boundaries: cultural, legal, historical and practice issues in native title, 2004.


AUSTLII  is a searchable legal database that provides text of legislation (eg. Native Title Act, 1993) and court rulings (Wik and Mabo)

APO (Analysis and Policy Observatory) Search on 'Native title' 

AIATSIS Research Publications

AnTAR, Native Title and Land Rights

Federal Court of Australia. Native Title Infobase. Database with indexed articles, books and book chapters related to Native Title. Some available online.

Human Rights Commission. Native Title Reports. Annual summary of Native Title issues.

Mabo vs Queensland the High Court decision

Mabo: Native Title. Hannah Duncan, taken from Right Wrongs website.

National Native Title Tribunal is an independent body set up under the Native Title Act 1993 to facilitate native title outcomes.

South Australian Native Title Service