Land transfers and title return

We work to return land title for some lands, so that Queensland’s First Nations people can manage the land according to their tradition or custom.

These transfers are made under the Aboriginal Land Act 1991 and Torres Strait Islander Land Act 1991 (known collectively as the Indigenous Land Right Acts). These Acts recognise the interests and responsibilities of our First Nations People in relation to the land.

Who owns the land?

The Minister appoints trustees for the land. The trustee holds the land for the benefit of either:

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people connected to the land (including their ancestors and descendants)
  • native title holders (if there’s a native title determination over the land).

The trustee could be either:

  • an Indigenous corporation that’s registered under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (Cwlth)
  • land trusts established under the Indigenous Land Acts.

Find out more about land trusts and other land-holding entities.

The land will be transferred as ‘inalienable freehold’. This means that the land can’t be sold or mortgaged, but it can be leased or used in any way that local or state laws allow. It will belong to the First Nations people, who will continue taking care of the land.

Native title isn’t impacted by a land transfer.

Resources and services on the land

The Queensland Government retains ownership of the minerals and petroleum on all land in Queensland. It also retains certain rights to forest products and quarry materials on some land transferred under the Indigenous Land Acts.

What land can be transferred?

Transferable lands include:

  • deed of grant in trust land (DOGIT)
  • Aboriginal reserve land
  • Torres Strait Islander reserve land
  • available state land declared to be transferable land
  • national parks in the Cape York Peninsula region and on Moreton Island.

See a map of transferrable land:

Not all transferrable land has been identified. You can see a list of all land that’s currently declared transferrable in the Ministerial declarations under the Indigenous land Acts.

Land that’s already been transferred

Express your interest in a land transfer

You can ask to have some other land transferred by lodging an expression of interest for that land. To be eligible you must either:

  • be an individual or member of a group with connection with the land under Aboriginal tradition or Island custom
  • or

  • live on or use the land or neighbouring land.

Only some land types are open for an expression of interest. Find out more about eligible land and how the expression of interest process works.

Land trusts

Find out more about land trusts and other land-holding entities to:

  • identify the trustees for certain lands
  • read about the roles and responsibilities of trustees
  • access reporting documents.

Trustees transferring land

A trustee of Aboriginal land or Torres Strait Islander land may decide to transfer all or part of the land it holds to another land holding entity. This includes transferring all assets and liabilities.

Those entities that the land can be transferred to are:

  • another existing land trust established under the Indigenous Land Acts
  • an Indigenous CATSI corporation, which is a corporation that’s been set up under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (Cwth)
  • Mornington or Aurukun Shire Council.

Use the application to transfer land form (PDF, 202KB) to apply for a transfer.

Contact for more information on the process.