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Native title recognition for Gangalidda and Garawa

The Gangalidda and Garawa Peoples have today been recognised as native title holders of 5,810 sq km of land and waters, 650km west of Cairns, Far North Queensland.

At a Federal Court hearing in Burketown, Justice Jeffrey Spender made two consent determinations* over parts of the Gangalidda and Garawa Peoples’ two native title claims, recognising their exclusive native title rights over 1,860sq km of an Aboriginal Land Trust area and their non-exclusive rights over 3,950sq km of predominantly pastoral leases. 

National Native Title Tribunal Member Graham Fletcher, who mediated between the parties, said the Gangalidda and Garawa Peoples were taking a staged approach to native title recognition.

“The groups lodged two native title claims and today succeeded in having their rights recognised over Part A of each of these claims,” he said. “Following today’s consent determinations, the parties will work towards settling the remaining parts of both claims.

“To establish how the native title rights will co-exist with the rights of others in the determination areas, the Gangalidda and Garawa Peoples negotiated with parties to develop two pastoral agreements that they aim to have registered as indigenous land use agreements (ILUAs). This means the native title holders will be able to practise their traditional customs while the pastoralists do their daily work, in a coordinated way that satisfies all involved.”

 Mr Fletcher said the outcome was achieved due to the parties’ commitment to the process and their willingness to take time to negotiate about their rights and interests. 

“The attitudes and commitment of parties have a huge effect on the process. When the parties are willing to sort through issues about future uses of the land and endeavour to understand one another’s points of view they can arrive at an outcome, such as that achieved today, that suits all involved. This is the best approach to settling native title.”

*A determination is a decision by the Federal Court about whether native title exists in a claimed area. When parties to a claim reach agreement and the Federal Court endorses the agreement, it is a consent determination.