The Federal Court of Australia today recognised the Combined Gunggandji People’s Native Title rights and interests over approximately 7,528 hectares of land at Yarrabah in Far North Queensland.
The determination is the result of claims first lodged by the Gurubana Gunggandji and Les Murgha and Vincent Schrieber (Gungandji People) in 1994 and 1995 respectively.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt attended the ceremony in Yarrabah, Far North Queensland.
“Today’s determination celebrates the Combined Gunggandji People’s native title rights and interest in their traditional lands around Yarrabah,” Mr Pitt said.
“Maintaining their ancient affinity with their land and cultural values is of great significance for everyone and something of which we can all be proud.
“I also want to acknowledge the role that old people have played in bringing about this determination, remembering that some of them are no longer with us to see this very special day.
“I congratulate them for the many years of hard work they have devoted to achieving this.
“Their diligence underlines their deep and abiding commitment to the preservation of their identity and rich cultural heritage.”
The Federal Court has formally recognised their exclusive native title rights over the northern part of the Yarrabah Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT) including Rocky Island.
It also recognises non-exclusive native title rights over the northern part of the Yarrabah Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT) including reserves, unallocated State land, part of Trinity Forest Reserve and part of the Malbon Thompson Conservation Park.
The Combined Gunggandji People can access and traverse these areas, take traditional natural resources for personal, domestic and non-commercial communal purposes in accordance with their traditional laws and customs.
Natural Resources Minister Rachel Nolan said the State had also entered into four Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) with the Combined Gunggandji People.
“These ILUAs provide an economic opportunity for the Combined Gunggandji People, native title consent for leasing under the Aboriginal Land Act 1991 and for the ongoing management of some areas by the Queensland Government,” Ms Nolan said.
“They also negotiated ILUAs with the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council, the Cairns Regional Council and Ergon Energy for the ongoing management of cultural heritage and future activity.”
Negotiating ILUAs with local governments and service providers who have infrastructure within the claim area is common practice and helps to build relationships between the parties while outlining the process that each party will follow when undertaking activities within the ILUA area.
Today’s decision brings the number of native title determinations in Queensland to 66and the number of determinations by consent to 60.