Acceptance sets positive precedent

Braden Hill, manager of Murdoch University’s Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre.
Braden Hill, manager of Murdoch University’s Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre.

Braden Hill 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 non-Noongars alike.

�Improvements for Noongar communities are improvements for the broader community. Income that flows directly into community development activities on Noongar country will impact positively on all our communities,� Mr Hill said.

�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.�

He said it wouldn�t 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 processhas 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.

�I think there is a fundamental mistrust of the government for many Noongar people. There are very sound historical and perhaps even contemporary reasons for this but I think the lack of clarity in the community about what native title can do for Noongar people in the current day is the major issue.�

Mr Barnett said one of the most significant aspects of the settlement would be the Noongar (Koorah, Nitja, Boordahwan) (Past, Present, Future) Recognition Bill 2014 that recognises the Noongar people as traditional owners and acknowledges their unique contribution �to the heritage, cultural identity and economy of the State.