Four-year battle ends in native title win for the Yuwaalaraay Euahlayi People

(Photo by QSNTS Debra Harrip) 

22 November 2021 

Today the Yuwaalaraay / Euahlayi People celebrate a milestone win as their four-year native title claim concludes with the formal recognition by the Australian legal system, that they are the Native Title Holders of their traditional country in Queensland’s southwest region.

In an on-country hearing at Dirranbandi Civic Centre, the Honourable Justice Collier of the Federal Court of Australia, determined native title over land and waters covering 12,945 hectares of land located within the Shire of Balonne, including the townships Dirranbandi and Hebel.

With today’s determination, the Yuwaalaraay / Euahlayi People have been granted exclusive and non-exclusive native title rights. Exclusive native title has been recognised over 97 parcels of land which allows the community to have rights to possess, occupy, use and enjoy the area to the exclusion of all others.

Yuwaalaraay / Euahlayi Traditional Owner and Applicant, Jamie-Lee Taylor said today’s native title recognition is empowering and will allow for the Yuwaalaraay / Euahlayi People to rightfully protect their land, waters and culture.   

“I can continue my journey of reconnecting to Country and community. It will allow our people greater access to Country for cultural and traditional practices which will increase our knowledge sharing.

“This sharing of knowledge will give me the opportunity to listen, learn, be mentored and walk in the footsteps of those leaders before me. I hope to then pass this knowledge on to the future generations to ensure our culture continues to flow strong and deep,” Ms Taylor said.

Non-exclusive native title rights have also been granted over parcels within the determination area such as waterways and largely public reserve areas. This includes waterways, which within the determination area, are multiple rivers and creeks including stretches of the Narran River, Bokhara River and Ballandool River, as well as parts of the Balonne and Culgoa Rivers.

Traditional Owner and Applicant, Mayrah Dreise said, “Achieving native title means our people can look after country in the way we are supposed to. The Yuwaalaraay People will have access to land and waterways for hunting and fishing and to bush tucker.

“My country is important to me and the recognition of native title means we are known as the traditional custodians of our country. I will be able to access parts of country that I couldn’t before. To dance on country and protect her from harm is very important for future generations and me,” Ms Dreise said.

Queensland South Native Title Services Chief Executive Officer, Kevin Smith said, “QSNTS acknowledges the ancient, living culture of the Yuwaalaraay / Euahlayi People and their strong connection to their traditional land and waters. The Yuwaalaraay / Euahlayi People have many positive attributes as a First Nations People, ‘two-world’ wisdom, indomitable spirit and resilience but this native title process has demonstrated that unity is their power. Unity is essential to successfully prosecute a native title claim as well as to make native title work for current and future generations.

“They have remained united in their acknowledgement and observance of traditional laws and customs from time immemorial to modern times, united despite the ravages of colonisation, especially the devastation of artificial state borders literally dividing their traditional country since 1859 and united despite the harrowing process required to prove native title. The fact that this claim has successfully resolved under five years – a comparatively very short time frame for native title claims – speaks volumes to this quality. Stay strong in your unity and all the best for the next leg of your native title journey.”

QSNTS congratulates the Yuwaalaraay / Euahlayi People on this historic occasion as Native Title Holders for their ancestral lands and waters.

Media contact: A fact sheet about the Yuwaalaraay / Euahlayi People is available for download below. For all media enquiries, please contact QSNTS Communications Officer Sophie Gibbs via email sophie.gibbs@qsnts.com.au or call (07) 3224 1200. 

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Four-year battle ends in native title win for the Yuwaalaraay / Euahlayi People
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22 Nov 2021