Final native title decision made for Western Bundjalung
NEARLY a year after the Federal Court of Australia gave a positive determination of native title to the Western Bundjalung people in more than 800 land identification areas north-west of Grafton, the remaining land involved in the decision have been resolved.
In her reasons for judgment, Justice Jayne Jagot said at the time of the original determination of native title over the majority of the land, there was further land excluded near Copmanhurst because of then unresolved issues concerning the interests of Aboriginal Land Councils, which was called the Part B Area.
Justice Jagot said the complexity of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act and its relationship with the Native Title Agreement meant difficult comprises had to be made.
"As a result of these tough but necessary compromises, the remaining claim of the Western Bundjalung People in respect of the Part B Area is also to be resolved today by recognition of their native title rights and interests in connection with that land under their traditional laws and customs," Justice Jagot said in her reason for judgment.
"Ultimately, of course, today is about the Western Bundjalung People, and the final recognition by the laws of Australia of their traditional rights and interests continuing to connect them to their land under their traditional laws and customs. To achieve that recognition of what was and has always been, I note the agreed matters and make the orders as proposed by consent."
Native title recognises the Western Bundjalung traditional owners' rights and interests including the right to camp, hunt, fish, gather resources and conduct their cultural practices on their country.
They also have rights to be consulted and play an active role in how their country is managed.
Ngullingah Jugun (Our Country) Aboriginal Corporation will hold the rights and interests comprising the native title in trust.
An application for a native title determination was first made on December 19, 2011.
The Western Bundjalung claim area covers more than 5,000 square kilometres and contains 24 national parks, nature reserves and state conservation areas as well as the Aboriginal settlements at Baryulgil, Malabugilmah, Jubullam Village and Jubal.