Koa People named Native Title Holders

6 October 2021

TODAY in an on-country hearing, the Federal Court of Australia has granted recognition to the Koa People as Native Title Holders of land and waters covering 31,400km2 in Queensland’s north-west region.

Held in the Winton Shire Council Hall, the Honourable Justice SC Derrington granted the consent determination resolving the six year native title claim which was first lodged in July 2015.

Koa Traditional Owner, Natasha Duncan said that the recognition of non-exclusive native title rights is a significant step towards reclaiming Koa country again and acknowledgement of Koa history.

“For Koa families, it’s to acknowledge our ancestors beginnings,” Ms Duncan said.

The native title recognition acknowledges, “the history of my grandmother’s country of where she lived, worked and survived,” Ms Duncan said.

The native title determination area lies in the upper Diamantina River catchment area and includes the towns of Winton, Kynuna, Corfield and Middleton.

As is custom among First Nation Australians, the formal Federal Court hearing was preceded by the traditional smoking ceremony to ward off bad spirits and welcome guests to country.

Among the guests on-country was Queensland South Native Title Services’ Principal Legal Officer, Tim Wishart, who said the hearing was a significant milestone for the Koa People.

“Native title recognition is a long journey for Traditional Owners and in Queensland where colonisation processes were particularly brutal, difficult to achieve,” Mr Wishart said.

When asked what the native title recognition means as a Koa Traditional Owner, Pamela Hegarty said it will, “rectify the sufferings endured throughout the lifetime of our Ancestors and generations thereafter. It will diminish myths about Koa People and rectify misconstrued thoughts and opinions once and for all about Koa traditional land ownership of country in its entirety.”

The significance of achieving native title provides, “justice for our ancestors who were removed from their birth land. Holistically, this will strengthen Koa People to move forward not only on Country but for the very essence of their Koa identity,” Ms Hegarty said. 

QSNTS congratulates the Koa People as Native Title Holders for their ancestral lands and waters.

Media contact: For all media enquiries, please contact QSNTS Communications Officer Sophie Gibbs, email sophie.gibbs@qsnts.com.au