28 Jul 2011

The Federal Court of Australia held a Native Title Consent Determination Hearing yesterday (27 July 2011) at Eumaralla (Yambuk) Coastal Reserve on Victoria's south-west coast.
The Consent Determination recognises the co-existent native title rights of the Gunditjmara People and the Eastern Maar People.  The VGSO has been working on this claim from the onset in 1996. The first part of the claim was settled on 30 March 2007.  Yesterday the second part of the claim was settled, amended to include the Eastern Maar People. To read more, click here.

The Gunditjmara People have established the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation and the Eastern Maar People have set up the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation.  These two corporations have agreed to work together in the future to deal with matters relating to native title and cultural heritage protection.  This arrangement is a first for Victoria and reflects the inter-relationship between the two groups.

The Federal Court of Australia held a special sitting under a marquee at Yambuk, with possum skins draped over the court bench and traditional smoking ceremonies, attended by about 200 people, including VGSO representatives Managing Principal Solicitor Mary Scalzo, Senior Solicitor James Stephens and Solicitor Zoe Jones. This spot was chosen by the Gunditjmara and the Eastern Maar because Deen Maar (or Lady Julia Percy Island) is visible from there, a place of great cultural significance to both groups.

Standing (Left to Right): Zoe Jones, Solicitor, VGSO; James Stephens, Senior Solicitor, VGSO; and Mary Scalzo, Managing Principal Solicitor, VGSO.  Solicitors representing the State of Victoria.

Seated (Left to Right): Robert Blowes SC, Counsel for the Applicant; Dean Cowie, Manager Native Title Unit, Department of Justice; Annie Keely, Counsel for the Applicant; Ben Wurm, Senior Project Officer, Native Title Unit, Department of Justice; and AC Neal SC, Counsel for the State of Victoria.