On 27 June 2018, the Barngarla people were awarded their Native Title at a ceremony held on the Whyalla foreshore. The ceremony was recognition of a 20 year fight and a tribute to those Indigenous elders who passed away during the campaign.

Three separate Court decisions about the title were made and featured a trial spanning from 2012 to 2014.

The final decision was handed down in 2015 however formal ownership of large parts of the Eyre Peninsula only came into effect as of 27 June 2018.

So what exactly is Native Title and what does it mean?

Native Title is the formal recognition by Australian law that Indigenous people have rights and interests to their land that derives from their traditional laws and customs.This is an important concept to Indigenous Australians because land is intrinsic to Indigenous culture and identity.

For the Court to recognise Native Title there is a two part process involved. First, under the traditional laws and customs of the group of Indigenous people claiming Native Title, are their rights and interests to the claim area based on their traditional connection to the area? If yes, the Court then asks if this connection has been either entirely or partially extinguished by Government action?

This is a very dense topic and one that is confusing for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The key part to understand is that Native Title does not provide land rights as such but it does provide Indigenous people with:

  • the right to share the land with other people or parties with an interest in the land; and
  • rights to hunt and fish, conduct ceremonies, visit places of cultural importance and have some say over what developments can occur on the land.

For now, a Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation board has been appointed to govern Native Title affairs for Barngarla nation. The Barngarla people have said that they want to continue to work in unison with the community, and not restrict people from using the land any differently to how they already use it

Our Whyalla Lawyer, Matthew Rismondo, is new to the area and enjoys keeping up to date with local knowledge. He can assist you in any legal matters you may have, from Estate Planning, Probate Administration, Criminal Matters and Family Law. Visit him at 18A Forsyth Street today, or call 8645 7666 to make an appointment today.