Land talks advance between the state government, Wotjobaluk Peoples and the Barengi Gadjin Land Council to create a Recognition and Settlement Agreement

Talks are underway between the state government, the Wotjobaluk Peoples and the Barengi Gadjin Land Council.
Talks are underway between the state government, the Wotjobaluk Peoples and the Barengi Gadjin Land Council.

LAND talks have advanced between the state government and traditional owners.

Attorney General Martin Pakula met with the Wotjobaluk Peoples and the Barengi Gadjin Land Council on Friday to discuss the creation of a new Recognition and Settlement Agreement for Traditional Owners in the state’s west. 

Areas under negotiation include land north of the Grampians, which stretches from Navarre to the South Australian border. 

Barengi Gadjin Land Council executive officer Brett Harrison said he thought the talks were going “really well”.

“It’s still in the early stages at the moment,” he said.

“The current agreement we have is old and outdated, so we hope to get an agreement that is current and reflects our needs and aspirations.

“We hope the joint arrangements will create an easier process and allow things to run more smoothly.”

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Barengi Gadjin Land Council deputy chairwoman Janine Coombs said the Wotjobaluk Negotiating Team and the council were looking forward to further discussing their aspirations for the land with Mr Pakula.

“We look forward to fair and robust negotiations with the state to reach a settlement that provides for sustainability, economic growth and ensures that our unique relationship to our traditional Country is recognised, strengthened, protected and promoted now and for future generations,” she said.

In 2005, the Federal Court determined native title over the land under the Commonwealth’s Native Title Act 1993. That same year, the state government entered into agreements relating to native title with the Barengi Gadjin Land Council.

The agreements under negotiation will be established under Victoria’s more recent Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 and will replace existing agreements.

Mr Harrison said Barengi Gadjin Land Council was the first indigenous group in Victoria to receive a Native Title.

“We set the bar and allowed others to follow,” he said.

“The legislation in 2010 allowed Aboriginal groups to go into land discussions without the legal process and sort everything outside of court.”

Attorney-General Martin Pakula said the state government was looking forward to a successful conclusion of the current talks.

“(These talks will) establish new agreements that better reflect the needs and aspirations of the Wotjobaluk Peoples,” he said.

“This a significant step towards self-determination for Aboriginal people in western Victoria, and a recognition of their close and ongoing ties to Country.”

Representatives from the Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, Jadawadjali, Wergaia and Jupagulk Peoples were present at discussions.