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Native title recognised south of Cairns


Negotiations and agreement-making have reaped rewards for the Ngadjon-Jii People who are today set to have their native title rights recognised over national parks and reserves 47 km south of Cairns, including exclusive rights to an island in the Russell River.

Justice Spender of the Federal Court of Australia is making a consent determination at Malanda over 13,287 ha of land and waters in parts of the Wooroonooran National Park, Topaz Road National Park, Malanda Falls Conservation Park and two quarry reserves.

The Ngadjon-Jii People lodged their native title claim eight years ago and recently concluded talks with the State Government, Cairns City Council, Eacham Shire Council and Ergon Energy who have interests in the claimed area. During negotiations the Ngadjon-Jii People and the State Government reached an indigenous land use agreement (ILUA) that establishes how the native title rights and interests will be carried out on the ground.

As native title holders the Ngadjon-Jii People will have the right to exclusively possess, occupy and use a 2.34 ha island in the middle of the Russell River. Their non-exclusive rights over the rest of the land include the right to make decisions about the use of the area and to protect and maintain it. They will be able to access the area to camp, hunt, gather natural resources for personal needs and conduct ceremonies.

National Native Title Tribunal Member, Gaye Sculthorpe, who mediated between the parties, said they were successful in talking through their different perspectives and reaching an outcome that protected their respective interests.

‘The determination and ILUA provide clarity about everyone's rights and interests and how they will exercise these cohesively on the ground,’ Dr Sculthorpe said.

‘With all parties arriving at the negotiating table with different perspectives and plans for the area's future, it takes a lot of time, patience and talking to reach an agreed outcome. But they have succeeded and now they have certainty about their own interests and one another's rights.

‘The broader community will also benefit as the Ngadjon-Jii People have much traditional knowledge of these national parks, which they will draw upon as they work with the governments to manage and protect the natural environment.’

Pronunciation: Ngadjon-Jii = Nud-jon-gee

For more information see the media backgrounder and map.