Federal Court's decision over Widi#1 claim
A 13-YEAR battle for native title rights ends tomorrow as the Federal Court recognises the Widi people as traditional owners of about 5400 sqm of land in Central Queensland.
This decision, to be handed down at the Nebo Community Hall, will confirm the Widi people are the native title holders and will recognise their rights to country that includes Nebo, Fort Cooper, Mount Robert, Eungella National park and Homevale National Park.
The Widi people will have exclusive rights to 22 parcels of land and non-exclusive rights to other areas allowing them to do traditional activities such as hunt, fish, camp and access country.
Widi and Birri Gubba Elder Graham 'Cookie' Sauney said the core country claim meant the Widi people could produce economic development, sustainability and equity for the future of their people.
"It will give the Widi people an opportunity to continue with developing our Widi and Birri Gubba language that is not lost,” he said.
"We must also continue to care for country, protect our rights and interests, look after the needs of the local community and find ways how we can all live together.”
The Widi#1 claim was filed in the Federal Court of Australia in September 2006 under the Commonwealth Native Title Act and this consent determination is the result of years of negotiation with Mackay and Isaac Regional Councils, State Government, pastoralists and mining companies.
There have been about 25 claims over Widi country since the introduction of the Native Title Act.
Also known as Nebo Murries, the Widi people are descended from 13 sets of known Widi ancestors, who occupied Widi country from the time of European occupation in 1861 until today.
The Widi people have also entered into Indigenous Land Use Agreements with two pastoralists and Isaac and Mackay councils that will set out framework on how native title rights and interest co-exist.
The Widi people are also part of a wider community of Aboriginal people known as the Birri Gubba Nation, which extends north from Marlborough to Townsville and inland to the Great Dividing Range.
Assistant State Development Minister Julianne Gilbert said the determination recognised the Widi people's ancestral connection to their country and further strengthened the Widi people's culture and language for the next generation.
"Their rights are now further protected to hunt, fish, gather, meet, hold ceremonies and pass on dreaming stories, bush lore, dance and song, right from home,” she said.