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Native Title across Gunditjmara Country

On 30 March 2007 the Federal Court of Australia delivered a consent determination over almost 140,000 hectares across the southwest of Victoria, recognising the Gunditjmara People’s native title rights and interests across our traditional homelands and waters.

 

The consent determination area is bounded on the west by the Glenelg River, and to the north by the Wannon River. Gunditjmara native title covers national parks including the Lower Glenelg National Park, Mt Richmond National Park and Mt Eccles National Park as well as Lake Condah and State Forests including Cobboboonee State Forest, Dunmore State Forest and Hotspur State Forest.

 

The recognised native title rights and interests include the non-exclusive right to:

·         have access to or enter and remain on the land and waters

·         camp on the land and waters landward of the high water mark of the sea

·         use and enjoy the land and waters

·         protect places and areas of importance on the land and waters

·         take resources of the land and water

 

Native Title rights and interests are non-exclusive and sit alongside the broader community's right to enjoy these places.

On 27 July 2011, the Federal Court of Australia determined that both the Traditional Owners represented by GMTOAC and the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation are the native title holders for the land and waters between the Shaw and Eumeralla Rivers from Deen Maar (including Yambuk) to Lake Linlithgow.  Deen Maar (Lady Julia Percy Island) holds deep and significant cultural association for Traditional Owners.

 

The consent determination recognises the native title rights and interests of the Traditional Owners to:

·         access or enter and remain on the land and waters;

·         camp on the land and waters landward of the high watermark of the sea;

·         use and enjoy the land and waters; take the resources of the land and waters; and

·         protect places and areas of importance on the land and waters.

 

Please visit the National Native Title Tribunal website for maps of the 2007 and 2011 native title consent determinations.

 

 

What is Native Title?

Mabo v Queensland (No 2) (commonly known as Mabo) was a landmark High Court of Australia decision recognising native title in Australia for the first time. The High Court rejected the doctrine of terra nullius in favour of the common law doctrine of native title.

 

Native Title is a set of rights and interests over land or waters where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups have practised traditional laws and customs since before the time of European occupation and continue to do so.

 

Native Title evolved from the 15th century when the Christian sovereigns of Europe needed their own common law to set out from England, Spain, Holland, Germany, Denmark and Portugal to “discover” new lands. 

 

The “Doctrine of Discovery” enabled Christian sovereigns under their own anointed divine right to travel the world to take the lands and waters of the World’s First Peoples. 

 

Through the deaths of millions of the World’s First Peoples by invasion, disease, massacres, slavery and brutal colonisation, The Christian sovereigns of Europe ravaged the “non-Christian” world for the stolen wealth of the First World and its Indigenous Peoples.         

 

Under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can apply to the Federal Court to have their native title recognised under Australian law. 

 

Native title cannot be claimed over freehold title.

 

A native title determination is a decision by a court or recognised state or territory body that native title does or does not exist in an area. A consent determination can be made if all parties reach an agreement about native title through mediation.

 

The National Native Title Tribunal administers native title business across Australia under the Attorney-General of Australia.