The State Government is expected to resolve a native title claim over Noonkanbah Station after recognising the rights of the Aboriginal claimants.
Premier Richard Court said today the Government had endorsed a preliminary report which confirms the claimant group's connection to the land.
“The report concludes that the claim group had maintained a connection to the land through the use of language, hunting and the observance of tribal customs,” Mr Court said.
The claim extends over 1,812sq.km and covers all of Noonkanbah Station which is west of Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley.
“There is still some further research to be undertaken and there must be consultation with the claim group but we anticipate a consent determination of native title could be finalised early next year,” the Premier said.
The claim group included Aboriginal people resident at Noonkanbah and other Aboriginal people within the wider Kimberley region.
Mr Court said the determination and commitment shown by the claimant group had ensured the issue did not suffer the same fate as so many other claims in protracted court actions.
“Despite the claimants being refused funding by the Kimberley Land Council, they have been able to present their case and work with the Government to resolve the issue,” he said.
Mr Court said retiring Independent MLA Ernie Bridge had played an important role in progressing the claim.
“Over the past two years the claimants, led by Mr Dickie Cox and assisted by Mr Bridge, have been in regular discussion with the State Government to try to resolve their claim with the least disruption to the local community,” the Premier said.
“The efforts of both men are to be commended.”
Mr Court said the claim group had successfully demonstrated that their common ancestors occupied the claim area at the time of settlement of the region.
“In some cases, family trees have been compiled reaching back for up to eight generations,” he said.
Media contact: Bronwyn Hillman 9222 9475