Another step towards self determination

The Federal Court of Australia recognised the combined Mandingalbay Yidinji and Gunggandji People’s native title rights and interests over an area of approximately 82 square kilometres on the Yarrabah Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT) near Cairns on 21 September 2012.

This is Queensland’s 74th native title determination.

“This is a very significant decision for the people of Yarrabah and brings to an end almost 18 years of legal proceedings,” Principal Lawyer Paulette Dupuy said.

“It’s another step in the journey towards self determination, providing native title holders with an opportunity for economic development and ensuring they can continue to use and enjoy their ancestral lands in accordance with their traditions.

“The applicants were represented by the North Queensland Land Council.

“However, the commitment and creative solutions developed by Assistant Crown Solicitor, Kristy Snape in conjunction with State Negotiator Lisa Carmody of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Services were critical to resolving the claim,” Paulette said.

“As well as recognising native title, the negotiation process established frameworks for authorities that allowed commercial tower operators such as Black and White Taxis and Telstra to continue broadcasting from the area," Kristy Snape said.

“It also granted leases to 19 Indigenous residents which enable them to own their own homes on the DOGIT through the Blockholder and Tower Indigenous Land Use Agreements which were resolved as part of the settlement package.

“To enable the actions in those agreements to occur, it was also necessary for the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council to agree to surrender a portion of the DOGIT to the State.

“This is the first time an Aboriginal Council has agreed to do so and a separate Indigenous Land Use Agreement and public consultation period was required to formalise that process,” Kristy said.

The information in this publication is provided for general purposes only. It is not to be relied on as a substitute for legal advice. Crown Law and the Department of Justice and Attorney-General accept no liability for losses caused by reliance on the material in this publication. Formal legal advice should be obtained for particular matters.

Published: 6 November 2012

Author: Kristy Snape and Paulette Dupuy