Walking with Traditional Owners throughout their native title journey to have rights to land and waters recognised under Australian law is at the heart of what QSNTS does. Together, in the final quarter of 2021, we were honoured to assist our clients with the successful conclusion of three native title determinations.

In October, in an on-country hearing, the Federal Court of Australia recognised the Koa People as Native Title Holders of land and waters covering 31,400km2 in Queensland’s north-west region. The decision resolved a six year long native title claim to the determination area in the upper Diamantina River catchment.

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.

In November, the Yuwaalaraay / Euahlayi People were recognised as Native Title Holders of their traditional country in Queensland’s southwest region, and were granted exclusive and non-exclusive native title rights.

Yuwaalaraay / Euahlayi Traditional Owner and Applicant, Jamie-Lee Taylor said that, “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,” Ms Taylor said.

Most recently, in December, the Woppaburra People were recognised as Native Title Holders over land and waters off the eastern coast of Queensland, covering 567 square kilometres of traditional Country that comprises the Keppel Islands including Woppa (Great Keppel Island) and Konomie (North Keppel Island). 

Over many years the Woppaburra People have maintained an unwavering connection to their traditional country despite the impacts of colonisation. 

Applicant and Woppaburra Traditional Owner, Lesley Barney said, “the native title determination is a step in the right direction for the Woppaburra People of past, present and future.

Despite being removed we have survived as a group and maintained family connection... [It’s a] step towards healing the trauma of the past and provide a new sense of pride to young people. It’s been 117 years between removal, to recognition of our rights. We have maintained our identity and connection despite these hardships,” Ms Barney said.

QSNTS’s Principal Legal Officer, Tim Wishart said, “This determination and recognition of native title by the Federal Court is highly significant. It is made in the historical context of the removal of the Woppaburra from their traditional homeland as part of government policy in the wake of brutal treatment and repression of the traditional owners by European occupiers.

Determination and resilience have been the hallmarks of the Woppaburra People after that removal and throughout their struggle for formal recognition of their native title.”

QSNTS congratulates the Koa, Yuwaalaraay / Euahlayi and Woppaburra Peoples and expresses gratitude to all stakeholders involved in bringing to fruition these successful consent determinations. We look forward to continuing our work together on the journey towards self-determination.