Sarah McBratney

Assistant Crown Solicitor

Sarah leads Crown Law’s Native Title and Resources team, a specialist team which combines acting for the State in native title claims work with expert advice on native title, Aboriginal cultural heritage and resources law for Queensland government agencies.

Sarah has extensive experience in native title, Aboriginal cultural heritage, land access, environmental and resources law, gained through her work across government, private practice and industry. Sarah joined Crown Law in 2016 after eight years at one of Queensland’s largest commercial law firms where she was a Senior Associate, followed by two years as an in-house commercial and legal advisor in a major Australian energy company. She draws on this mix of government and commercial experience in her advice to Queensland government agencies.

As Assistant Crown Solicitor, Sarah is known for her expertise in providing practical advice on complex and novel legal issues affecting the State in the native title context, particularly where these issues intersect with other interests, such as Aboriginal land, the protected area estate and resources tenure.  She is often called upon by government clients to provide training to officers on native title and cultural heritage.

Since joining Crown Law, Sarah has assisted Queensland Government agencies with a range of matters, including:

  • Assisting the Cultural Heritage Unit in its response to the Nuga Nuga decision, including advice on amendments to the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act.
  • Considering the native title implications of grants of geothermal tenure under the Geothermal Energy Act.
  • Advising on the native title extinguishment outcomes of the vesting of lands in Harbour Boards under the Harbours Act 1955.
  • Providing a series of advices on the implications of the decision in McGlade v Native Title Registrar for Indigenous Land Use Agreements, s 31 agreements and cultural heritage agreements and the consequent amendments to the Native Title Act 1993.
  • Together with lawyers in the Native Title and Resources team, acting for the State in native title claims, including negotiation of associated agreements and providing advice on native title and other land tenure issues as they arise.
  • Assisting clients with the negotiation and drafting of Indigenous Land Use Agreements, ‘right to negotiate’ agreements, Cultural Heritage Management Plans and other cultural heritage agreements.
  • Providing training to officers of Department of Transport and Main Roads, the Department of State Development and the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning on native title and cultural heritage.

In her previous role in private practice, Sarah primarily advised mining and gas clients on successful project approvals pathways for mine expansions and green field projects, including native title and Aboriginal cultural heritage agreements, environmental regulation, water licences, on and off-tenement infrastructure, resolving issues with overlapping coal and coal seam gas tenements, and the grant, amendment and relinquishment of tenements under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 and Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004.