The NTA provides a framework for recognising and protecting the traditional rights and interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on areas of land and waters where native title has not been extinguished. This can include vacant Crown land and reserves, forests and parks, as well as seas and inland waters.
Once a claim has been lodged and continues through to the Federal Court making a determination that native title rights exist, the native title group has procedural rights when certain developments may impact upon their rights. These include the right to be notified, to make comment, or in certain circumstances, to negotiate an agreement about the how the development will be carried out. While this process may provide some opportunity for the native title group to negotiate cultural heritage protections, the NTA is not designed for this purpose, and does not provide the native title holders a final say in respect to cultural heritage matters.
Once the Federal Court makes a determination that rights exist, the NTA requires native title holders to establish a corporation called a Prescribed Body Corporate (PBC) to manage and protect their native title rights and interests. These corporations are called ‘prescribed bodies’ because they have certain prescribed obligations under the NTA, including a requirement to incorporate under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act) 2006 (CATSI ACT).