THE National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples has endorsed the landmark decision of the High Court to compensate Ngaliwurru and Nungali peoples for the extinguishment of their non-exclusive native title rights and for associated cultural loss.
For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, there is an inextricable link between culture, well-being, nature and land and/or waterways. The forced breaking of these bonds has often had tragic consequences leading to inter-generational trauma and hardship.
“While no amount of money can adequately compensate for cultural loss and its consequences, the High Court’s recognition of the implications caused by incursions and infringements on the fundamentals of our cultures are of some comfort.” National Congress co-chair Jackie Huggins said.
“Further, the justices’ willingness to uphold a decision to make some sort of recompense should assist in the long path to reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians,” Dr Huggins said.
National Congress co-chair Rod Little said, “Historically, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a strong track record of generosity in sharing our lands and waterways.
“We have endured forced removals from our lands, and a very slow and often reluctant return thereof, and even then, only to those who can show a continuing relationship with specific locations. Native title legislation contains a great many exclusions for claims, and our rights have been successively weakened since the initial legislation following the Mabo decision. This ruling goes some way to restoring our rights and healing past injustices.” he said.
Mr Little said National Congress stood ready to assist CoAG in the negotiation of principles to avoid unnecessarily protracted and expensive litigation on a case-by-case basis. "It may be beneficial for these discussions also to involve the business sector so that we can work together as a nation"
"Native title land and water rights may be put as a discrete matter in themselves but they do have a connection to current discussions of constitutional recognition, and the agreement making aspects of the Statement of the Heart, issued at Uluru in 2017.
"There is a growing groundswell of support to close the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians in health, education, prosperity. Cultural well-being is inextricably linked to the achievement of these goals. We look forward and hope for further actions that promote reconciliation."
ABOUT NATIONAL CONGRESS OF AUSTRALIA’S FIRST PEOPLES
National Congress is the peak organisation representing the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. National Congress was established following extensive consultations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and leaders and has represented our peoples at the federal level since 2010. It represents close to 10,000 individual members from across Australia as well as over 180 peak and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.
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