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Far West Native Title passed – WCS

ABORIGINAL people from across the Far West Coast celebrated after a vote was passed to approve the terms of the Far West Coast Native Title Claim on Saturday.

Representatives of the six claimant groups met at the Far West Aboriginal Sporting Complex from Thursday to Saturday to learn the terms put forward by the South Australian Government, voice their questions and concerns, and ultimately vote to give the claim final approval.

The information day on Friday allowed the whole community to know of the process to determine consent of determination.

If passed it would provide Native Title recognition for the Wirangu, Mirning and Kokatha people.

This decision has been a long time in the making, with the first claim coming from the Mirning people in 1995.

In 1999 a decision was reached to combine six overlapping native title claims into the Far West Coast Native Title Claim.

Passionate expressions of interest were seen during the meetings on Thursday and Friday.

But there were reported scenes of overflowing emotion when the vote to approve the Native Title claim, and rules for the new Aboriginal corporation, was passed with 79-80 percent of the vote.

By law at least a 75 percent approval was needed to pass transition of native title from a state based association to an Aboriginal corporation.

Far West Coast Native Title Claim solicitor Oskar Linde said it was a very emotional event for many involved.

“There were tears from some of the elders, and a number of people were hugging,” he said.

“For 10 years I’ve been along with them so it was a great occasion.”

This has approved the structure of the new Aboriginal Corporation, which has been given the transitional name of the Far West Coast Aboriginal Corporation.

Throughout the three days, elders and community members anticipated the result.

Kokatha-Wirangu elder Wangki Peel said this is great progress for all Far West Coast peoples.

“It’s a forward step for all Far West Coast community members to be appreciative and recognise traditional rights to the land,” he said.

“Nevermind if you belong to different traditional clans, I believe it will benefit everybody in the long run for our children and future generations to come.”

With the vote of approval the Federal Court will now convene at Lake Pidinga in December, which will make the order to recognise existing rights with native title.

Mr Linde said the transition of native title is sure to bring the Far West Coast peoples closer together.

“It will bring the peoples closer together with local council and the State Government, and things can only get better now they have legal recognition and aren’t claimants anymore,” he said.

“Once the dust settles people will also be more comfortable with settling claims within their group, and particular families can make decisions in their particular area.”

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