Important step for Waanyi People in North West QLD
Current and future generations of northwest Queensland’s Waanyi people will have their ancient rights to more than 43,000 hectares of land and waters recognised following a Federal Court move.
In evidence to the Federal Court as part of the Waanyi people’s native title determination, Waanyi elder Lloyd O’Keefe said it was important for his people to remain connected to their land.
“Under our way, if you are connected to that country you belong there, and you should stay there,” Mr O’Keefe said.<br>“You should be there to make sure country is being looked after.
"You can stay there, you can live there, you can camp there, you can build on it and fish there.
“It’s been handed down from generation to generation.”
Department of Resources Director General Mike Kaiser said the Federal Court’s recognition of the Waanyi People’s rights to land and waters near Doomadgee was an historic decision.
"This is an important step in recognising the Waanyi People’s unbroken bond to their traditional country,” Mr Kaiser said.
"This determination recognises Waanyi people’s link to the environmental and cultural values of the land as well as the right to hunt, fish, gather and conduct ceremonies on the land.
“I congratulate the Waanyi People and everyone involved, including the Burke Shire Council and Doomadgee Aboriginal Shire Council, for working together and achieving this outcome.”
The consent determination will recognise exclusive native title rights over about 2128 hectares and non-exclusive native title rights over about 41,463 hectares of land and waters.
It is the second native title determination for the Waanyi People after more than 1.7 million hectares of land in the state’s north west was recognised in December 2010.
In evidence, elder Garry Rockland spoke of his and his family’s strong connection to Guyanda country, which is part of the Waanyi People’s second determination.
“I am junggayi for my country, Guyanda,” Mr Rockland said.
“Junggayi is like a policeman. He goes around the country to check on it, to see that everything is good.
‘Under Waanyi rules, the people who decide what can be taken from the country and how it is used are the people from that country. For Guyanda, it is me and my family.”
Mr Kaiser said native title helps preserve Indigenous culture, values and traditions and could be a key step towards achieving more independence for traditional owners on their land.
“The Queensland Government continues to work with Indigenous Queenslanders to recognise their rights as traditional owners, with native title now recognised in nearly 30 per cent of our state,” he said.
Native title is recognised over about 491,850 square kilometres of land in Queensland, with claims to another 428,150 square kilometres currently subject to native title claims.
Last updated 5 October 2021