Yamatji Traditional Owners celebrated both their Native Title determination and Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) at an on-Country Federal Court hearing in Geraldton today.

The first in Native Title history, the agreement includes both Native Title recognition and an economic package full of benefits.

Yamatji Native Title holders now have non-exclusive possession rights over:

  • Areas of land near the Wanda Nature Reserve and Lucky Bay
  • Former Barnong, Menai Hills and Kadji Kadji pastoral leases
  • Aboriginal Lands Trust areas in Carnamah, Eneabba and Kadathini.

In addition to these rights, Yamatji Traditional Owners now have housing assets for lease, development or sale, extra investment for business and tourism development, water reserve access, more capital, and employment opportunities.

As part of the landmark agreement, a Conservation Estate will be created with joint opportunities that allows Yamatji Traditional Owners to care for Country, with unallocated and unmanaged reserve lands also being returned.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, was in attendance and in full support of the deal, as was WA Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Ben Wyatt.

“Land security is economic security, and today’s decision will deliver certainty and new opportunities for the Yamatji Nation,” Minister Wyatt said.

“This Native Title determination will mean generations of Yamatji people can benefit from the land and help maintain their cultural connection with that land.”

The ILUA between the WA Government and Mid West Traditional Owners was also celebrated today by Traditional Owners, Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation (YMAC) and government representatives.

With negotiations starting in 2017, the Yamatji Nation Southern Regional Agreement (YNSRA) includes the Yamatji Nation Claim and the claims of Hutt Riber, Southern Yamatji, Mullewa Wadjari and Widi Mob.

YMAC supported the ongoing Native Title and ILUA talks, coordinating negotiations and offering assistance where possible to Traditional Owners and State Government.

“This has been a long journey for Traditional Owners and YMAC appreciates the dedication and patience shown by all parties to achieve this fantastic outcome,” said YMAC CEO, Simon Hawkins.

“This Agreement will change the relationship between Traditional Owners and Government, and we believe it can serve as a blue-print for future agreement making of this nature.”

WA Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Ben Wyatt, attended the ceremony to sign the new agreement.

“The package … empowers Traditional Owners and provides economic and other opportunities that will assist in Closing the Gap,” Hawkins said.

“One of the challenges for the State will be to provide sufficient resources at their end to ensure the relationship develops and prospers in years to come.”

By Hannah Cross