Gudjula People Native Title Determination

December 13, 2016 at 5:00 PM

After 12 long years, the Gudjala People have had their native title claims determined. Back on the 18th of March 2014, Justice Logan made the Gudjala People #1 Part A and #2 Part A consent determinations at Charters Towers, holding off Part B of the applications to a date to be to fixed, dependent, on the outcome of an application by a group of respondent parties. These respondent parties are collectively known as the Walsh River Respondents, who raised issues of possible extinguishment of native title in relation to areas covered by military orders in World War II. The issues were taken by the State of Queensland to the High Court.

Ultimately, it was found the making of the military orders did not extinguish native title (see Martin Dore’s article on this in our May 2015 edition).

On the 13th of December 2016, at the Federal Court in Brisbane, His Honour Justice Reeves finally determined, with the consent of all parties, Gudjala People #1 Part B and Gudjala People #2 Part B. The Applicants, Christine Hero, Smokey Anderson, Gloria Santo and Priscilla Huen attended the hearing.

The determined area of both claims cover approximately 19,000 square kilometres.

This brought to an end a journey the Gudjala People had originally commenced in 1998. The Gudjala People #1 and #2 claims were filed with the Federal Court in 2005 and 2006 respectively.

I am grateful for the assistance of the applicants, Elizabeth Dodd, Smokey Anderson, Gloria Santo, Christine Hero and Priscilla Huen and their tireless commitment to progressing the claims to conclusion.

I would like to congratulate the Gudjala People for their patience and tenacity throughout this process, and acknowledge that there are Gudjala Elders who commenced this journey, but were not present to see the final outcome. I would also like to thank Chris Harriss who previously worked on the claims with the Gudjala People, Sharon Charger who has been the Project Officer on all of their claims, as well as NQLC Legal Secretaries Solange Williams, Jasmin Phillips and Laura Burton.

The Ngrragoonda Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC now manages native title on behalf of the Gudjala People. 

Author: Cheryl Thomson, Legal Officer