Managing Principal Solicitor
LLB (Hons), BA

Current practice

Mary is a leading practitioner in the areas of native title, traditional owner settlements and Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Experience

Native title settlements

Since joining VGSO in 2001, Mary has advised the State of Victoria in all of the Federal Court negotiations with native title holders.  This includes:

  • 2005 Wotjobaluk Settlement: first ever recognition that native title exists in Victoria.  The Wotjobaluk were recognised as native title holders by way of a Federal Court consent determination which involved obtaining the consent of over 400 respondent parties.  The consent determination was accompanied by a suite of settlement agreements including a funding agreement, consultation agreement, indigenous land use agreement (ILUA) and co-operative management agreement.
  • 2007 Gunditjmara Settlement: Federal Court consent determination and accompanying agreements including a funding agreement, ILUA, co-operative management agreement and MOU regarding dealings in relation to Land Condah.
  • 2010 Gunaikurnai Settlement: hybrid settlement including a Federal Court consent determination, ILUA and some TOS Act agreements: recognition and settlement agreement, funding agreement and land agreement.  It also involved establishing a traditional owner land management board under the Conservation, Forests and Lands Act 1987.
  • 2011 Gunditjmara and Eastern Maar Consent Determination: recognition of native title rights held jointly by Gunditjmara and Eastern Maar.

Mary was part of the VGSO team which drafted settlement agreements following multi-year negotiations between the State and the Dja Dja Wurrung (2013) and Taungurung (2018), respectively.

Public sector governance

Mary advised the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council regarding the implementation of its new functions and powers following the 2016 amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.  In particular, this included advising on the establishment and management of the (then) new cultural heritage fund and establishing new working arrangements with cultural institutions for the return of Ancestral Remains.

Compliance

Mary is frequently called upon to advise on native title and Aboriginal cultural heritage protection issues relevant to public infrastructure projects, natural resource management and mining projects.  More recently, Mary has advised on compliance issues arising under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic). 

Collaborative law

Mary has strong relationships across government departments and agencies and Traditional Owner organisations and is adept at guiding clients through complex compliance processes.  Her strong network of relationships has made it possible for Mary to negotiate streamlined compliance outcomes and whole of project solutions.

Mary works in a collaborative way with both colleagues and clients to deliver tailored solutions to new policy and legal developments.

Mary received the LIV Government Lawyer of the Year award in 2008.