Land Titling Forms and Economic Development

Chief Investigator:

Maureen Tehan


Over the past 5 years, Australian governments have been undertaking significant changes in relation to indigenous land title such as converting communally held land to individual title land on the assumption that this will lead to economic development for indigenous people. Maureen Tehan will analyse examples of land titling reforms on indigenous land in Australia and Canada and assess the circumstances in which communal and individual titles operate and the conditions required for each to assist economic development of indigenous peoples. Her research will propose creative ways in which indigenous land titles in Australia might contribute to economic development and wealth creation, without compromising indigenous land relationships.

The research will examine key issues including:

The Canadian case study will focus on the Nisga'a, a self-governing First Nation which has recently introduced a Torrens system to manage land transactions in their villages.

In Australia, the case studies will examine at least three different approaches to land titling reform: 99 year township lease under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, housing area leases in Northern Territory communities to facilitate the 'Close the Gap' housing strategy and one State example of land reform (most likely in Cape York).

Research Outcomes

ATNS Publications

Godden, L and Tehan, M. (2010) Comparative Perspectives on Communal Lands and Individual Ownership: Sustainable Futures, Routledge, Abigdon