The long fights for native title in New South Wales

"WE are hoping for a positive determination of native title; it has been a long fight begun by my grandparents and the other elders of that generation for recognition as Western Bundjalung traditional owners."

Western Bundjalung applicant Terry Robinson will attend the native title determination hearing on Tuesday and he expanded on the battle that has been fought by the community for six years and said "it will be an honour to attend the consent determination hearing".

"Our country, our Jugun, has looked after us and it is now our turn to look after country," he said.

"Recognition of native title will help us protect our sacred sites and build an economic base for our community."

Sixteen years before the Bundjalung people's claim for the Western Bundjalung nation, the Yaegl Aboriginal Land Council from the Lower Clarence region lodged its claim for land between Harwood and the area where the Clarence River meets the ocean on the New South Wales coast.

Almost 19 years later, in 2015 the Yaegl people won an 18-year legal dispute over the native title of their traditional land.

Yaegl Local Aboriginal Land Council co-ordinator and public officer Michael Randall said ahead of their determination day he was most looking forward to achieving acknowledgement and recognition of affiliation and spirituality with their connection to Yaegl country.

He said they were still in the development stage since the determination.

"Authorities and government departments have just realised what's really involved now we've got a seat at the table in regards to decision making in natural resource management - that was one of the biggest changes," Mr Randall said.

"Our right to practise and hunt and gather for traditional foods is being recognised, whereas before we could only hunt country for pippies (but) New South Wales licences would not let us get more than 20 pippies per person.

"We are still finding out more and more (from government authorities, agencies and departments) where they have to come and sit and have a yarn to us and seek our input and ensure we have a say in the management of issues affected by native title."

He said the Yaegl people - "as one of the first in New South Wales" - in their long fight for native title were "used to set a precedent".

Similar to Western Bundjalung, some Yaegl elders passed away in the years during the claim which Mr Randall said "made it all that extra special" when the claim came back positive.

"Our elders who took the initiative and have now passed on - we are sort of fulfilling their dreams by getting it past the post," he said.



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