On 6 July 2023, the Federal Court formally recognised the Native Title rights and interests of the Ngadjuri People on Ngadjuri land by handing down orders in the consent determination. The claim which sought recognition of their Native Title rights commenced in 2011 and involved the ongoing work and support of many. Sadly some elders who did not live to witness this determination.
The determination of Native Title is the Australian legal system acknowledging the Ngadjuri People's connection to the land that has survived the settlement of Europeans, and the rights and interests, that have always been theirs. It further accepts the traditional laws and customs of the Ngadjuri People and acknowledges that the two systems of law (Australian and Ngadjuri) can exist contemporaneously.
The rights conferred in a determination of Native Title include the right to camp on the land, hunt and take resources from the land and waters, perform ceremonies, teach law and engage in cultural activities and protect cultural sites.
History of Ngadjuri/overlapping claims
The Ngadjuri People have previously been involved in the Native Title claim involving the Mid North and Southern Flingers Ranges. This claim involved an area shared between the Ngadjuri, Wilyakali and Adnyamathanha Peoples and was determined in 2018. Details can be found in the Federal Court's decision in Coulthard v State of South Australia (Adnyamathanha, Ngadjuri and Wilyakali Overlap Claim)  FCA 1993.
Consent Determination on country
The hearing took place at the Burra town hall, where the first meetings amongst the Ngadjuri People on Native Title were held many years ago. It is fitting that the determination of the claim should take place in this very venue where Ngadjuri People took the first steps towards having their Native Title rights and interests recognised.
Mellor Olsson appeared at the hearing representing the rights and interests of ten Local Government Councils and a number of pastoralists clients of Mellor Olsson, whose operations fall with the country determined to be Ngadjuri land.
The attendance at the hearing illustrated the support from the community and the respect parties have for one another, with the common goal of working together to create a better and brighter future.
Stories were shared of the losses the Ngadjuri People endured over the years and their survival, endurance and hope to preserve Ngadjuri culture and traditions for future generations. It is unfortunate that some of the original claimant group members were unable to witness the finalisation of this claim. There were many children present at the hearing who were able to experience this momentous day, and who will grow up with the knowledge that their rights are recognised and their voices will be heard.
The Native Title holders have established the Ngadjuri Nation Aboriginal Corporation to manage their rights and interests. This is the prescribed body corporate and is the point of contact for parties wishing to negotiate land use and development on Ngadjuri country.
We look forward to working with the Ngadjuri Nation Aboriginal Corporation on behalf of our clients.
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