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Bardi and Jawi people rewarded after long struggle

The National Native Title Tribunal has welcomed a decision from the Federal Court today, which proposes a determination of native title in favour of the Bardi and Jawi peoples, of the Western Kimberley.

Justice French delivered his judgment in Perth, with a video link to the community of Djarandjin, where the traditional owners were gathered.

The two groups were found to hold exclusive possession over parts of the 1037 square kilometers of land claimed — except for some islands to the north of the claim area and some other areas. Non-exclusive rights were proposed to be recognized over the intertidal zones and associated reefs and areas of water.

Tribunal Deputy President Fred Chaney said it was always heartening to see Indigenous people, with a long association to their country and waters, satisfy the requirements of native title to be granted their lawful rights.
'As is so often the case this has been a long struggle for recognition of rights they have always understood to be theirs,' he said. 'The Bardi and Jawi peoples are to be congratulated for their perseverance and fortitude.'
The rights over land include the right to live on the land; the right to access, move about and use the land; the right to hunt and gather; the right to engage in spiritual and cultural activities; the right to use resources including food and ochre and; the right to refuse, regulate and control the use of the land by others.

The rights over areas of water include the right to use and enjoy the reefs and associated water; the right to hunt and gather, including for dugong and turtle, and; the right to use the resources for food, trapping fish, religious, cultural and ceremonial purposes.

The Bardi and Jawi people first lodged their claim in 1995. They were engaged in mediation before the claim went to trial and later amended the area to reduce the expanse of sea from 12 nautical miles offshore to three nautical miles. No native title was found in respect of Alarm Shoals and Brue Reef.

The parties to the claim were asked to submit a draft determination for the area within 28 days. Justice French recommended they make use of the Tribunal's services to facilitate the agreement.

Charlie Wilson-Clark
08 9268 7315