Annual Report 2010-2011
The highlight of the year for me personally, and for many western and eastern Arrernte traditional owners, were the handbacks by the Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, of two important areas of land under the Commonwealth Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976. Traditional owners have been keen for joint management for many years and have often talked about tourist enterprises in the park similar to their involvement in the 1950s.
Everybody was very excited about finally being recognised as the traditional owners and having that land handed back.
One of the largest and longest running land rights claims in the Central Land Council’s region finished when Eastern Arrernte traditional owners were handed back title to 18,000 square kilometres of land adjoining the Queensland border in the Simpson Desert.
The area handed back to the Ltalaltuma Aboriginal Land is a very important bit of country for us and we are really happy about it.
I would like to make a special mention of our rangers because they are doing fantastic work looking after country and we are all really proud of them. Old people I talk to out bush are happy because the rangers are looking after their rockholes and springs and cleaning them out like they used to do. They’re learning their culture and how to look after things and they are out there working and getting paid. From what I can I see we have come such a long way since the CLC set the first groups up.
I would like to thank the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin and the Minister for Environment Tony Burke for their support for the rangers. The Australian Government has really helped us expand the groups and get more young people working and learning.
We had more good news when the Federal Court handed down consent determinations under the Native Title Act for the Ooratippra, Singleton and Newhaven pastoral leases.
In the case of Newhaven it was the first native title consent determination between traditional owners and a non-government conservation organisation.
I think they are all important because they recognise that Aboriginal laws and customs still hold a place of importance in today’s society. That is very important for us.
For a long time there has been so much pressure on the survival of our Aboriginal culture and lots of non- Aboriginal people don’t value it. They think that it is a negative thing for our nation. But it’s not. It makes Australia a richer place, a place where different values and perspectives on life make us look at the world a little bit smarter.
Our culture is a precious thing to us and we would be really happy if all Australians valued it more. Once it’s gone, it’s gone and it can never be brought back. There would be a lot of sadness about that and I think the CLC’s work is important in helping to keep our law and culture strong.
I thank everybody – staff, funding bodies, other organisations - who have worked with us and contributed to our success this year. I feel we have moved forward in 2010-2011.