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Deanna Cartledge


Deanna specialises in the area of Indigenous law and local government. For over 20 years she has worked in the native title jurisdiction in both Western Australia and Queensland.  In addition to practising as a lawyer, Deanna has experience as a manager with the National Native Title Tribunal, as a native title advisor to the Government of Western Australia and as the native title group representative for Queensland local governments, through the Local Government Association of Queensland.

Over the last 10 years, Deanna has represented both applicants and a variety of respondent parties involved in Federal Court native title proceedings.  In addition she has provided advice and assistance to a range of corporations, local government and developers with tenure dealings, the negotiation of Indigenous Land Use Agreements and Aboriginal cultural heritage compliance. 

Deanna has represented Australian local government at a high level at both State and Commonwealth native title policy meetings including the Commonwealth Native Title Consultative Forum. She was also appointed in 2009 to a native title Federal Court committee which still meets regularly to discuss case management and formulating recommendations to the Court.

Deanna has provided training on native title and cultural heritage to Queensland local governments (and developed an accompanying work procedures manual) as well as for claimant groups and stakeholder groups in Western Australia.  

Earlier in her legal career Deanna worked in private practice specialising in family law and she was at the forefront of introducing alternative dispute resolution into legal practice and managed the State-wide dispute resolution model developed for Legal Aid Office (Queensland) and worked closely with Bond University in dispute resolution training.


With over 20 years’ of legal experience she has provided advice on and represented clients in a broad range of Indigenous law and local government including:

  • representing over 40 per cent of Queensland Councils whose local government areas are affected by one or more native title determination applications. This work involves drafting documents, court appearances, attendance at case management conferences, attendance at mediation meetings facilitated by the Federal Court of Australia and National Native Title Tribunal, negotiating and drafting agreements and associated property law work 
  • completed compulsory acquisitions by local government and other constructing authorities over at least 50 land parcels in order to facilitate freeholdings
  • represented a variety of respondent parties from local government, mining interests, public utilities and individuals to native title determination applications at all stages of Federal Court proceedings and in the negotiation of the terms of consent determinations and ILUAs which usually also address future Aboriginal cultural heritage compliance
  • assisted Queensland Indigenous Councils in their understanding of the interaction between the complex Queensland tenure system (including the Aboriginal Land Act 1991 (Qld) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Land Holding) Act 1985 (Qld)) and the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth).


08 December 2021 - Knowledge

National Native Title Tribunal decides a mining lessee has not negotiated in good faith

#Native Title & Indigenous Cultural Heritage, #Construction, Infrastructure & Projects

The National Native Title Tribunal has dismissed a mining lessee’s application to be granted a mining lease because they failed to act in good faith when negotiating with the affected native title holders.

08 November 2021 - Knowledge

Spotlight on cultural heritage law reform following Aboriginal heritage destruction at Juukan Gorge

#Native Title & Indigenous Cultural Heritage

The Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia has released its final report into the destruction of culturally significant caves at Juukan Gorge, which suggests eight key recommendations for reform to cultural heritage laws in Australia.

01 June 2021 - Knowledge

Federal Court rules no native title exists on two leasehold properties

#Native Title & Indigenous Cultural Heritage

Two Queensland leaseholders have successfully obtained a Federal Court order that native title does not exist over their properties, paving the way for a freehold conversion.

23 March 2021 - Knowledge

Inside track: Local Government

#Local Government, #Native Title & Indigenous Cultural Heritage

The Federal Court of Australia has struck out two native title compensation claims due to lack of specificity.

15 December 2020 - Knowledge

Federal Court examines ambit of model litigant principles in Queensland

#Government, #Native Title & Indigenous Cultural Heritage

A recent Federal Court native title decision has rejected a challenge to the State’s decision not to recognise native title based on a breach of model litigant principles.

Upcoming Seminars