Native title awarded to Mithaka traditional owners in south-west Queensland
On 27th October 2015 the Mithaka People were awarded native title over a huge area of Queensland land and water that rivals Tasmania in size. The Federal Court, sitting in Windorah in south-west Queensland, made the ruling over 55,425 square kilometres, which is only about 12,000 square kilometres less than Tasmania.
The claim, which was first lodged 13 years ago, includes parts of the Barcoo and Diamantina Shires encompassing the “ghost town” of Betoota.
Queensland Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham said Tuesday’s determination protected the Mithaka people’s rights to access their lands to hunt, fish, teach and conduct ceremonies.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, said he was pleased the native title claim, which at one stage was headed for litigation, has now been resolved by consent.
“The claim was first lodged in 2002 and today represents 13 years of hard work by the Mithaka People,” Minister Scullion said.
“This determination recognises the endurance of the Mithaka People, and their native title rights under Australian law.
“The Mithaka People of the magnificent Channel country in far western Queensland now have certainty that their rich culture and their rights and interests are preserved for future generations.
“It is my great hope that securing native title will provide Mithaka People with the foundation to build sustainable economic and cultural development and ensure prosperity through their designated corporate entity, the Mithaka Aboriginal Corporation.
“This will ensure Mithaka People can obtain the economic benefits that native title can bring through their native title corporation, the Mithaka Aboriginal Corporation.”
This was developed by Anthony Turnbull from the Determination Day in Windorah.
Elder, George Gorringe, 68, said it represented a time of renewal for his people.
“We’re going to celebrate tonight,” he said.
“We’re going to connect up and dance on this country and really enjoy our time together and we’ll talk about the future tomorrow.”
He said the determination would give the Mithaka People a say in how they worked with other groups in the area to ensure their land was cared for properly.
“For many years, I have worked on many of the cattle properties and councils, quite often alongside my father, and I have become aware of the many traditional cultural sites on our land,” he said.
“The recognition of native title means I can now be involved with our Mithaka People and our many friends on stations and in the shires to make sure these sites and traditions are looked after so they will last forever.”
The map below shows the area that was under consideration in the Native Title application.
The Mithaka People were represented in their claim by Queensland South Native Title Services.