Queensland’s 66th native title win for Indigenous people

On 19 December 2011, the Gunggandji people of Yarrabah were recognised as the native title holders of more than 7500 hectares of land east of Cairns.

Principal Lawyer Rachel Woolley said the Federal Court decision was delivered in the community of Yarrabah and recognises the native title rights and interests of the Combined Gunggandji People.

“The Gunggandji People negotiated the determination and seven Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) with the State and other parties, to outline how the rights and interests of the various parties will be managed,” Rachel said.

“The agreements establish a relationship between the Gunggandji People and other parties who may have infrastructure within the claim area, such as communication towers, while outlining the process that each party will follow when undertaking activities within the ILUA area.”

“The area covers about 7528 hectares of land and waters, including the northern part of the Yarrabah Deed of Grant in Trust; including the Yarrabah township, the foreshores of Mission Bay, Cape Grafton, Turtle Bay, Wide Bay and Oombunghi Beach, part of Malbon Thompson Forest Reserve and two parcels of land on Fitzroy Island,” she said.

“The negotiation of the ILUAs and the finalisation of the terms of the consent determination involved complex mediation with the Gunggandji people and the respondent parties.”

The mediation was conducted by Crown Law officers and State negotiators from the Department of Environment and Resource Management over many years in the National Native Title Tribunal and during case management proceedings conducted by the Federal Court.

“The outcome of 19 December 2011 would not have been possible without the efforts of many dedicated people including the Gungagandji elders and claim group members and the good will and hard work of the legal representatives of the parties involved in reaching a determination of native title by consent.”

Crown Law officers involved in the negotiation of the Combined Gunggandji People’s native title claim included Assistant Crown Solicitor Kristy Snape and Principal Lawyers Rachel Woolley and Paulette Dupuy instructing Counsel Helen Bowskill.

The native title consent determination was the result of claims first lodged by the Gunggandji People in 1994 and 1995.

The decision was handed down on 19 December 2011 and was Australia’s 176th native title determination – 66 of which have occurred in Queensland.

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: 1 February 2012

Author: Frances Cannon