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Traditional lands handed back – WCS

FOLLOWING the Federal Court decision, a number of people made speeches about the importance of the day and what it mean for the local indigenous people.

Guests who addressed the crowd included Kym Duggan from the Australian Attorney General’s Department, Dan McGrath from Iluka Resources and state Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Hunter.

Mr Hunter said this was a uniquely important event in the history of South Australian Native Title decisions.

“This was our largest Native Title settlement, as well as the most complex,” he said.

“But to see in the long history of the core process for so many groups to come together like this, it gives us great hope for future determinations.”

In recognition of this claim, Mr Hunter announced the state government had negotiated Indigenous Land Use Agreements over the parks in the area, as well as co-management agreements for Yumbarra Conservation Park and the Nullarbor Wilderness Protection Area.

The outcome has resulted in two co-management bodies: the Nullarbor Parks Advisory Committee and the Co-Management Board for Yumbarra Conservation Park.

Mr McGrath said Iluka would remain active in recruiting from the local area and continue supporting the local communities.

The crowd was also able to hear from people who have been active in the Native Title process, including some of the region’s elders.

Far West Traditional Lands Association chairperson Basil Coleman said it was indeed a momentous occasion.

“There are two reasons I’m happy to be here today, the first is we have been handed back our traditional land,” he said.

“The second is I’m standing here for the first time in my life on this munda (land), as I stand here I remember my mother and grandmother were born at Ooldea, which makes me happy to think about.”

Elders expressed their delight to see this day come to fruition.

Wirangu elder Allan Wilson said it seemed in the past this day would never come.

“People had told me it wouldn’t happen in my time,” he said.

“But I’m happy it’s happened in my time, and I hope you all feel the same.”

Following official proceedings everyone gathered outside for a special cultural dance before departing.

Now the Native Title is in place, it will now depend on the newly formed Far West Coast Aboriginal Corporation and the title holders to resolve issues in the area.

Far West Coast Native Title Claim solicitor Osker Linde said his role with the title holders will continue.

“The Native Title holders will require legal advice going forward, but it’s a big relief to see this process come to an end,” he said.

“Everything after this is just the cream on the cake.”

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