Native Title win for North Stradbroke Island

By AAP and AG staff 5 July 2011
Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page
After a 16-year battle, the local Aboriginal people have been given Native Title for North Stradbroke Island, QLD.

AFTER A 16-YEAR BATTLE, the Quandamooka people have finally been awarded Native Title over the south-east Queensland holiday spot of North Stradbroke Island.

Sweetening the victory, the community will now start receiving revenue from the island’s lucrative sand mining industry.

At a packed federal court sitting in the island’s public hall on Monday, documents were signed to determine Native Title for 54,500 hectares of the island, as well as nearby Peel and Goat islands and parts of Moreton Bay Marine Park.

A loud cheer erupted when the documents were signed, and outside, locals hugged native title applicant Ian Delaney, thanking him for his leadership.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Ian said. “A lot of times I wanted to run away.”

Shared land

The majority of the determination is for non-exclusive use, meaning it will not effect freehold land, or the use of public reserves, roads or the foreshore. However, Quandamooka people can now conduct ceremonies, use traditional natural resources and conduct burial rites on the area.

They’ll also have joint management of island’s national parks, including future parks when all the island’s sand mines are closed by 2025. They’ll also receive a share of mining royalties, but the amount is confidential.

As part of the declaration, 2200ha has been designated for exclusive indigenous use only, near Amity and Dunwich.

Ian said it hadn’t been decided how the land would be used, whether it be for housing, commercial use or even an indigenous cultural centre. He added that determination won’t mean the local indigenous people would make other people feel unwelcome.

“We own the majority of the island,” he said. “But it’s there for everybody; we’ve always been like that, the Quandamooka people, we’ve always shared.”

Premier Anna Bligh said it hadn’t been decided how the national parks would be managed, or what activities would occur in them. “Quandamooka people now have absolute legal entitlement to be at the negotiating table in determining the future of this island,” she told reporters.

Not all roses

Not all Quandamooka people are happy with the native title determination. Dale Ruska said the indigenous people were forced to relinquish too much land in the negotiations, and more space should have been allocated for exclusive use.

The determination should have been agreed upon before the government legislated where the future national parks would go once sand mining stopped, Dale said.

“Aboriginal land should have been returned to Aboriginal people, and they should have been given an opportunity to determine what the future use and planning for that land was,” he said. “The government could have considered national parks if the Aboriginal people chose it.”

The North Stradbroke Island native title determination is the first for southeast Queensland and the 56th for Queensland.