Githabul welcome the chance to manage land
GITHABUL Elder Aunty Christine Charles wept openly at a special ceremony yesterday at Woodenbong Showground as her people were recognised by the NSW Government.
More than 600 people watched as NSW Minister for Lands Tony Kelly, NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Reba Meagher, NSW Minister for the Environment Bob Debus and Githabul Elders initiated the biggest ever Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA).
Covering 112,000ha of national parks and state forests in the Kyogle, Woodenbong and Tenterfield areas, the ILUA will allow Githabul people a say in the management of these areas and the protection of culturally significant sites.
The agreement will also generate employment for Githabul people as well as transfer 102ha of Crown land to the Githabul Corporation.
Aunty Charlotte Page looked tiny as she stood to speak. Saying she was in her 80s, she told the gathering the Githabul people were privileged to live there.
"But more important is this agreement. We want to use something that was taken away and use it to benefit our people and show Aboriginal people that this is the path," she said.
Mr Debus said the ILUA allowed the NSW Government and the Githabul people to lodge a native title claim over the same area with the Federal Court this year.
Native Title Services CEO Warren Mundine said the ILUA was unique because gathering the information to prove the Githabul's continuous connection to the land was easy.
"We had the co-operation of the white community who helped us research the claim by coming forward with information and records," he said.