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Second native title win for Gooniyandi people


Oct 25, 2016

The Gooniyandi people have been recognised as the native title holders of a further 184 square kilometres of their country in the central Kimberley.

Made over part of the Yarrangi Riwi Yoowarni Gooniyandi native title claim, the consent determination was handed down by Justice Barker of the Federal Court of Australia in Perth on 25 October 2016.

The ruling comes after native title was first recognised for the Gooniyandi people, people of the Fitzroy River, in 2013 over 1.12 million hectares of land and water.

The native title determination covers a portion of pastoral station Fossil Downs and recognises the non-exclusive native title rights and interests of the Gooniyandi people.

Gooniyandi Traditional Owner June Davis said the determination reflects her people’s deep and intrinsic connection to country.

"We are very happy about today’s native title determination. It is important because it recognises that we belong to this land," she said.

"Native title means that we can continue to pass on our culture to our younger generations. We can be out on country and keep telling the stories of our people."

Kimberley Land Council Chief Executive Officer Nolan Hunter said this latest recognition of native title is important because it provides greater certainty about the rights of Gooniyandi people in their country, in line with developments in the law.

"In the past, native title rights have been viewed by some as little more than symbolic, giving Aboriginal people limited powers about what happens on country," Mr Hunter said.

"Today’s ruling is significant as it makes it clear that Gooniyandi native title holders can use their native title rights to gain real economic, as well as social and cultural benefits for their community.

"However, we still have a long way to go before native title rights are properly acknowledged by government as being equal to the property rights of other Australians, particularly here in Western Australia.

"I call on all Australians to stand together to truly recognise the rights of our nation’s first people to strengthen, rather than weaken, native title rights in the future."

The Kimberley Land Council is continuing to work with people of the central Kimberley to progress the remaining portion of the Yarrangi Riwi Yoowarni Gooniyandi native title claim.