The NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) has welcomed this week’s Federal Court of Australia determination of the Western Bundjalung Native Title.
Judge Jayne Jagot granted the native title claim legally recognising the rights of the Western Bundjalung people as traditional owners of the land at a gathering at the Tabulam racecourse on Tuesday.
Native title recognises the Western Bundjalung traditional owners’ rights and interests including the right to camp, hunt, fish, gather resources and conduct their cultural practices on their country.
They also have rights to be consulted and play an active role in how their country is managed.
The territory extends from the Clarence River at Moleville, north of Grafton, to Carpet Snake Creek, north of Tabulam, and from the Hogarth Range in the east to Bald Rock National Park in the west.
It includes the Aboriginal settlements at Baryulgil, Malabugilmah, Jubullam Village and Jubal.
The two main water courses of Western Bundjalung country are the Clarence River and the Rocky River.
The claim area covers more than 5,000 square kilometres and contains 24 national parks, nature reserves and state conservation areas.
NSWALC councillor for North Coast Tina Williams said the determination provided rights and recognition for future generations.
‘The Western Bundjalung determination strengthens our connection to country and our ability to teach culture,’ she said.
‘While the claim was lodged in 2011, the fight for land justice and recognition goes back a long way.
‘Our Elders fought tirelessly for this day and I pay respect to those who sadly passed away while the claim was being determined.”
Cr Williams said the determination also showed how Land Rights and Native Title could work together.
‘Today is a great day for Land Rights and Native Title. We may operate under different legislation and systems but we work together.
‘Jubullum, Baryulgil, Casino Boolange, Grafton Ngerrie, Moombahlene and Jana Ngalee Local Aboriginal Land Councils have been part of this journey.
‘When Native Title and Land Rights work together, we can focus on the bigger picture of building our people economically, social and culturally.’
Another Federal Court of Australia determination will be celebrated at Yamba on Thursday with the rights of the Yaegl peoples recognised.