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Torres Strait Islanders, fishermen and government agree on native title over eight islands

Torres Strait Islanders have moved a step closer to settling native title over all their land areas, with the Federal Court to make four consent determinations over eight uninhabited islands today.

Chief Justice Michael Black is scheduled to make the consent determinations in Melbourne this morning recognising the native title rights and interests of the Porumalgal, Masigalgal, Saibai, Dauan, Mabuiag, Badulgal, Boigualgaw peoples and the Warraberalgal, Porumalgal and Iama groups.

The determinations settle four native title claims lodged in 2001 and 2003.

Represented by the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) the native title claimant groups reached this outcome through negotiating agreements with the State Government, the Queensland Seafood Industry Association, Torres Shire Council and fishermen. The claimed areas are mainly vacant crown land and reserves.

Tribunal State Manager, Kevin Smith, commended the parties for achieving this outcome through agreement, and continuing the custom of sitting down at the table to talk their native title matters through.

‘Last December Torres Strait Islanders finalised the remaining native title claims over their island communities. Today another major step has been taken in settling the native title claims over the remaining land areas in the region,’ he said.

‘This brings the number of native title consent determinations in the Torres Strait to 25, more than half of the total number of consent determinations that have been reached Australia-wide. These have been reached through agreement which goes to show that by talking matters through groups can achieve positive results that are mutually satisfying.’

The applicants sought recognition of their native title rights including the right to:
  • possess, occupy, use and enjoy the determination area to the exclusion of all others;
  • hunt and fish in or on, and gather from, the water for the purpose of satisfying personal, domestic or non-commercial deeds;
  • take or use the water for the purpose of satisfying personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs.
Pronounciations: Porumalgal = poroomalgal; Masigalgal = massigalgal; Saibai = sighbye; Dauan = doowahn; Mabuiag = Mowbiagg; Badulgal = bardugal; Boigualgaw = boigualgore; Warraberalgal = worraberalgal; Iama = iarma.

 Map of the Torres Strait Island determinations  
Nicolette Kormendy
07 3226 8245