Tiwi Land Council



Composition of the Land Trust and the Land Council was determined at a meeting of the Land Council held 7 February 1979. Selection procedures for members was initially based upon 12 clan or "country" groups who comprise the Tiwi people.

Consolidation of these 12 groups, to 7 occurred in 1981 with traditional owners agreeing to collective representation. During 1992 the Land Council made application to the Minister for the inclusion of an additional group within the Land Council membership. On 26 May 1992 approval was given to form the eighth group of the Land Council. This political process of expansion and amalgamation of land based units is a Tiwi tradition documented over 100 years.

On 6 October 1981 the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs approved the Clan Leaders of each group to be a member of the Land Trust. These leaders would themselves appoint (4) other members of their group who together with themselves would comprise the membership of the Land Council.

On 16 November 1987 the Minister approved a total of 6 persons from each group. including the Land Trustee, to comprise the membership structure of the Land Council. With 8 Groups represented at 30 June 1995, the total membership of the Tiwi Land Council is 32.

The current membership can be found in the annual report.


Background - Structure

Establishment of the Tiwi Land Council followed representation by the Tiwi for recognition of their distinct geographic and cultural identity. These representations were a consequence of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 which came into operation on 26 January 1977.

A special gathering on Bathurst Island attended by the then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Honourable Ian Viner instituted the Tiwi Land Council on 7 September l978 following Gazettal of the Land Council in Special Gazette No S 162 of 18 August 1978.




Bathurst and Melville Islands were proclaimed an Aboriginal Reserve on the 4th of December 1912. Title Deeds in favour of the Tiwi Aboriginal Land Trust granting an estate in fee simple on Bathurst and Melville Island were signed by the Governor General on 30 May 1980. Various anomalies in the initial Deed of Grant led to a consolidated Certificate of Title for Bathurst Island, Buchanan Island, Melville Island and Clift Island being issued on 12 January 1987.

The Islands - Traditional Land



The 60 kilometres of water between Darwin and the Tiwi Islands have provided a useful barrier in permitting the Tiwi people largely unrestricted use of their own land over many centuries. Bathurst and Melville Islands were proclaimed an Aboriginal Reserve on the 4th of December 1912.

The total land area is almost 780.000 hectares. Melville Island is the second largest islands off the Australian mainland and spans 570,000 hectares. Bathurst comprises 210,000 hectares.

Tiwi Culture