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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Aboriginal Land Commissioner

The Aboriginal Land Commissioner is a statutory officer of the Commonwealth appointed to perform functions outlined in section 50 of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976. The Aboriginal Land Commissioner’s functions include undertaking inquiries into traditional land claims in the Northern Territory of Australia. Related reports, containing findings and recommendations, are also provided to the Commonwealth Minister responsible for the administration of the Act and the Administrator of the Northern Territory. The responsible Commonwealth Minister may also request that the Aboriginal Land Commissioner provide advice on any other matter relevant to the operation of the Act. The Hon Justice JR Mansfield AM currently holds the office of Aboriginal Land Commissioner on a part-time basis.

Archived Reports of the Aboriginal Land Commissioner to 2013

Review of Part V of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976

On 7 April 2022 the former Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, requested the current Aboriginal Land Commissioner the Hon John Mansfield AM KC, pursuant to section 50(1)(d) of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, to conduct a review of the future operation of Part V (Aboriginal Land Commissioners) of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.

By 30 June 2023, the Commissioner is to provide the Minister with a written report and recommendations according to the Terms of Reference for the Review.

The review was commenced on 15 June 2022 when the Commissioner published advertisements (PDF 126KB) | (DOCX 39KB) in various NT and national newspapers requesting that any person or organisation that wished to be heard in relation to the Review should give written notice by 11 July 2022. Letters were also sent out to a number of stakeholders (PDF 130KB) | (DOCX 24KB) who were identified as having a direct interest in the content of the Review.

Persons and organisations who desire to be heard by the Commissioner on the review are now invited to provide submissions by 3 February 2023. Stakeholders may refer to the issues raised in the discussion paper (PDF 177KB) | (DOCX 30KB) as a starting point when making submissions. Stakeholders may also make submissions on any other matters they deem relevant.

Submissions should be in writing, and provided with a completed privacy consent form (PDF 82 KB) | (DOCX 568 KB) addressed to the Aboriginal Land Commissioner, GPO Box 9932, DARWIN NT 0800 or by email to

If a person or organisation wishes to discuss any matters of interest or concern in relation to the Review with the Commissioner, a request should be made via email to prior to the due date for final submissions.

Detriment Review 2017-2018

On 6 July 2017, former Minister for Indigenous Affairs, the Hon Nigel Scullion, requested the advice of the Aboriginal Land Commissioner, the Hon JR Mansfield AM QC under s 50(1)(d) of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Land Rights Act) in relation to the status of detriment issues associated with 16 land claims recommended for grant but not yet finalised dating from 1981 to 2004.

On 24 December 2018 the Commissioner provided the former Minister with a written report and recommendations in accordance with the Terms of Reference for the Detriment Review. The Report was tabled in the House of Representatives of the Australian Parliament on 21 February 2019.

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