Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Speech at the Gunaikurnai Native Title determination, Victoria

Download PDFDownload PDF








2 Gunaikurnai Native Title Determination

22 October 2010


First, may I acknowledge the Gunai/Kurnai people, the traditional owners of the land we

meet on - and pay my respects to their elders, both past and present.

The Hon Justice North of the Federal Court of Australia

His Honour Justice Tony North of the Federal Court of Australia

The Hon Rob Hulls MP, Deputy Premier and Attorney-General of Victoria

The Hon Gavin Jennings MP, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Innovation

The Hon Richard Wynne MP, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Aboriginal


Mr Graham Atkinson, Chairman of Native Title Services Victoria

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen.

I am pleased to be here today to congratulate the Gunaikurnai people, and all parties, for

reaching a negotiated settlement.

This determination recognises native title rights over a significant part of the Gippsland


This is an historic day which provides important recognition of the Gunaikurnai’s

continuing relationship with this land, and a celebration of the Gunaikurnai’s remarkable


This is Gunaikurnai country - it always has been and it always will be.

My colleague, the Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing, Community

Services and Indigenous Affairs is unable to be here with me today.

But Jenny did ask me to pass on the following message:

3 Gunaikurnai Native Title Determination

22 October 2010

‘I want to extend my warmest congratulations to the Gunaikurnai people, the Victorian

State Government and everyone involved in achieving this historic determination.

This determination and associated agreements mark a significant moment in the

Gunaikurnai peoples’ long pursuit for the recognition of their status and rights as the

traditional owners of their land. This pursuit has been ongoing since first European

settlement, and over the last 13 years through the prosecution of the claim determined


I am sorry I can’t be with you today but I wish the Gunaikurnai well in developing the

social and economic opportunities arising from the recognition of their native title.’

And I concur with the sentiment of Jenny’s message.

Today’s settlement is a significant achievement for all involved and is a good example of

the approach we should be taking to resolve native title claims.

The Australian Government is keen to see claims resolved as quickly as possible to ensure

that Indigenous people can, like the Gunaikurnai, celebrate and benefit from the

recognition of their connection to country.

We should be focused on good outcomes which not only provide important symbolic

recognition, but provide practical benefits and opportunities for Indigenous Australians,

which will help close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage.

Faster resolution of native title claims through mediation rather than litigation is in

everybody’s interests.

Litigation is rarely the best way to resolve any disputes, and is particularly the case for

native title claims.

Through negotiation, parties can build durable and broader outcomes and, more

importantly, strong and lasting relationships.

4 Gunaikurnai Native Title Determination

22 October 2010

The Victorian Government’s Native Title Settlement Framework is an innovative approach

to the resolution of native title in Victoria - where the unfortunate history of dispossession

has made it difficult for many Indigenous Australians to maintain their connection to


The Australian Government has supported this framework by contributing funding to

ensure a sustainable future for the region.

This framework is also an example of how, by parties changing behaviours and attitudes,

and adopting a more proactive and collaborative approach to resolving native title, we can

make the system work better.

In closing, I would like to recognise the hard work of everyone whose dedication has

ensured that we can all be here to celebrate today.

Finally, to the Gunaikurnai people, your ancestors, your children and your grandchildren

would be proud of what you have achieved today.

Thank you.

ENDS (600 words)