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Bindunbur native title trial

Jun 08, 2015

For the first time in more than 10 years the KLC is preparing to resolve native title through litigation with the Bindunbur claim set for trial in the Federal Court in September.

The Bindunbur native title claim takes in Nyul Nyul, Jabirr Jabirr and Nimanburru country and is part of a regional trial that will resolve native title questions for the people of the middle Dampier Peninsula.

Justice North will hear the trial, which is expected to last at least six weeks and begins on September 21. It will include one week of on-country evidence and another two weeks in Broome. Further Aboriginal evidence will be heard in Broome across two weeks in February next year, followed by one week of anthropological evidence in Perth.

KLC Deputy CEO Tyronne Garstone said the legal team working on the native title claim had been busy preparing witnesses to give evidence.

“Preparing for a native title trial is time consuming and resource intensive. There are more than 30 witnesses, who are mostly senior old people that our legal team have been assisting to prepare to give their evidence. They have spent hours with them talking through the process and listening to their knowledge,’’ he said.

“There are also expert reports from anthropologists, historians and linguists that our legal team needs to compile, along with information about land titles, public works and roads.

“I praise the work of our team in pulling this together and the determination and strength of the claimant witnesses who will give evidence about their culture, language, active connection to country and traditional customs to prove they have native title.’’

The people from the middle Dampier Peninsula authorised the Bindunbur native title claim in July and October 2013.

Since then, the KLC legal team has been conducting detailed research into the history of the claim area and its people, meeting and consulting with claimants and family groups and facilitating research by anthropological experts.

Lengthy court documents explaining and describing the laws and customs of the claimants have been prepared while our legal team has been working with witnesses to record their stories and beliefs for presentation to the court.

The Bindunbur claim recognises that people from the Peninsula have different languages and different country but that they are closely linked together. Bindunbur means ‘bush country’, a name that was chosen by the claimants because it connects everyone on the Peninsula and links all the country through shared law and custom.

Native title is a complex and technical law that involves a long legal process. After the trial has finished around July 2016, Justice North will assess the information before making a decision about native title on the middle Dampier Peninsula possibly in late 2017.

Today, native title has been recognised across about 70 per cent of the Kimberley with the successful determination of more than 23 native title claims. Kimberley Aboriginal people have resisted, survived and adapted to ensure they continue to practice culture and pass on traditional knowledge. Their cultural strength has been reflected in the positive native title outcomes across the region.