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Our History

The North Queensland Land Council Native Title Representative Body Aboriginal Corporation (NQLC) was registered as an Indigenous Corporation on 28 March 1994.

The North Queensland Land Council (NQLC) is recognised as a Native Title Representative Body (NTRB) under s. 203AD of the Native Title Act 1993 (NTA).  The NQLC invitation area extends from the Daintree and Bloomfield Rivers in the north to just south-east of Sarina and west to beyond Richmond and Croydon and extends east to include the waters that are within the Exclusive Economic Zone of Australia.  The land and waters of the NQLC is approximately 943,300 km2, with approximately 411,164 km2 of this being land.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006 Census there are 37,303 Indigenous people within NQLC region that covers two census regions (Cairns (IREG10) and Townsville (IREG16) Indigenous Regions).  The Indigenous population is 5.6 per cent of the total population and 9.1 per cent of the Cairns Indigenous Region alone.  Thirty thousand, two hundred and twelve (30,212) or 81 per cent of Indigenous people within the Cairns and Townsville Indigenous census regions identify as being of Aboriginal descent.

There is a major concentration of Indigenous population on the coast that becomes less dense as you move westwards.  The region contains two large Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT) communities governed by Yarrabah and Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Councils.  There are also major Indigenous populations in Townsville/Thuringowa, Cairns, Mackay, Innisfail, Mareeba, Burdekin, Charters Towers, Mossman, Bowen, Atherton, Sarina, Ingham, Tully, Cardwell, Richmond, Nebo/Mirani, Herberton, Ravenshoe, Kuranda, Mount Garnet, Croydon and Jumbun Community.

The region is as diverse in its landscapes as it is in its cultural diversity, from the marine environment of the Great Barrier Reef to the coast & upland areas to the western areas which covers seven bioregions on land.  These bioregions include the Central Queensland Coast, Brigalow Belt and Wet Tropics of the coastal and upland areas, then the Einaseligh Uplands and Desert Uplands to out west to the Mitchell Grass Downs and the savannah Gulf Plains.

The region includes the 17 local government authorities of Bowen Shire Council, Burdekin Shire Council, Cairns Regional Council, Cassowary Coast Regional Council, Charters Towers Regional Council, Croydon Shire Council, Etheridge Shire Council, Flinders Shire Council, Hinchinbrook Shire Council, Isaac Regional Council, Mackay Regional Council, McKinlay Shire Council, Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council, Richmond Shire Council, Tablelands Regional Council, Townsville City Council and Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council.

Development of a Larger Land Council

From the 1 July 2008 the Commonwealth Minister decided that the geographic area (which is looked after by the NQLC) should be expanded to include the area that was formerly covered by Central Queensland Land Council Aboriginal Corporation (CQLCAC) Native Title Representative BodyBefore this date NQLC was responsible for an area that extended from the Daintree & Bloomfield Rivers in the north to Mission Beach in the south and west to beyond Croydon.  An approximate area of 139,000 km2 with 18,269 individuals who identified as being of Aboriginal descent according to the 2006 census.

As a result of this expansion of area NQLC’s Rule Book needed to be changed to allow for an election to the board for members living in the former CQLCAC area.  On 12 May 2009 the Registrar of Aboriginal Corporations approved of changes to the NQLC Rules which amongst other things provided for an additional four Ward areas covering the former CQLCAC area.  The number of members of the Board was revised downwards to twelve being the maximum number allowed under the CATSI Act without special exception.

In order to provide legal services to the Native Title claimants and traditional owners in this increased area the NQLC opened a regional office in the Townsville and maintained a smaller office in Mackay where the CQLCAC had an office.  The NQLC  head office continues to be in Cairns.

Roles and Functions

The primary legislation which the NQLC is concerned with is the Commonwealth NTA which defines the statutory functions of an NTRB.  The NQLC, in the context of representing native title claims also deals with the Native Title (Queensland) Act 1993 and other relevant Federal and State Legislation.

NQLC was incorporated on 28 March 1994 under the then Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976 (ACA Act) and is now registered under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act). The NQLC is required to comply with various conditions of the CATSI Act and Corporations Law which cover such matters as the setting up and functioning of the corporate governance of the organisation, holding of the Annual General Meetings (AGM) and the provision of the yearly financial statements.

Our main corporate governance practice starts with the clear statement in our Rule Book which provides for the roles of the Board and the Executive Officer  in accordance with the ‘separation of powers principle’. The formal adoption of this principle by the NQLC in 2001 set the platform for the continued good governance of the organisation over the ensuing years.