Agreement positive step for native title
THE acceptance of the State Government’s South West Settlement offer last week by six Noongar claim groups would set a positive precedent for future native title claims in WA, according to Murdoch University’s Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre manager Braden Hill.
He said the agreement was potentially an unprecedented act of self-determination that looked to provide the basis for investment in Noongar communities independent of government and driven by the needs and aspirations of Noongar people.
Premier Colin Barnett said under the terms of the settlement, $1.3 billion would be transferred over 12 years – including annual funding instalments of $50 million for 12 years – to support Noongar economic and cultural development.
Up to 320,000 hectares of Crown land would be transferred to the trust for cultural and economic development.
Mr Hill said the “well developed, thoughtfully considered and innovative agreement” went far beyond what Native Title was able to deliver indigenous people and would benefit the community as a whole – Noongar and nonNoongars alike.
“Improvements for Noongar communities are improvements for the broader commu-
Picture: Martin Kennealey nity,” he said.
“Income that flows directly into community development activities on Noongar country will impact positively on all our communities.
“This agreement allows for our younger generations to develop positive identities that empower them to fully engage with WA’s social, economic and political life. This can only be a positive thing for the entire community.
“The prioritisation of language and culture is very exciting. It will allow for Noongar communities to enliven cultural practices and strengthen our connections to country.”
Mr Hill siad it would not be a surprise to see an objection raised with the National Native Title Tribunal, particularly given how contentious the agreement had become.
“For the purposes of unity within the Noongar community, it would be great to see it be registered without objections,” he said.
“The fact that the processes has been contentious has raised some divisions within the Noongar community, particularly in some claimant areas.
“I think that this deal, once the strategies are beginning to show outcomes, will bring Noongar people together and hold us in good stead for generations to come.”
Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre manager Braden Hill.