Attorney-General welcomes native title settlement

Attorney-General Robert Clark today joined indigenous groups, the Commonwealth and members of the community at a special sitting of the Federal Court to recognise the native title rights of the Gunditjmara and Eastern Maar people, in Victoria’s south-west.

Mr Clark, who attended today’s sitting of the court at Eumeralla Coastal Reserve, congratulated all parties on the historic outcome.

“Today is the fourth time native title has been recognised in Victoria through agreement between the parties,” Mr Clark said.

“The consent determination orders handed down by the Federal Court give recognition to the deep spiritual and historical connection that the Gunditjmara and Eastern Maar peoples have with this land.”

The orders cover approximately 4,100 hectares of Crown land, including Deen Maar, also known as Lady Julia Percy Island, an area of particular cultural significance to both groups.

The native title rights also cover land along the Shaw and Eumeralla rivers and from Yambuk in the south, to land around Lake Linlithgow in the north.

The native title rights are non-exclusive and non-commercial and will co-exist with the interests of the general public and third parties using the area.

“The terms of today’s consent determination ensure that the interests of third parties are protected,” Mr Clark said.

Mr Clark congratulated all parties for working co-operatively to come to an agreement.

“This would not have been possible without the commitment and good faith of the traditional owners and other parties,” Mr Clark said.

“By negotiating these agreements outside of court, the Government has successfully sought to avoid unnecessary legal costs and burdens on the traditional owners, the Government and other parties.”