New laws have passed through State Parliament that recognise the Noongar people as the traditional owners of WA’s South-West.
The Bill was a crucial step in allowing the State Government to settle Noongar Native Title claims by handing over $1.3 billion in land, assets and benefits over 12 years.
The deal was negotiated during more than 300 community meetings, which were held from 2009.
South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council chief executive officer Wayne Nannup said it was an overdue moment for Noongar people.
“The acknowledgement by the State of Western Australia that Noongars are the traditional owners, in combination gives effect to all the opportunities that are within the settlement, ” he said.
“You have to understand that the most important thing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is that they’re connected to their country and that goes back, right back. We’re talking about 40,000 years. So it’s incredibly important.”
The Act covers the areas between Perth and Albany.
Premier Colin Barnett said the passage of the Bills was a historic occasion for Western Australia.
“This Bill… establishes the Noongar people as the traditional owners of the land in the South-West and is important for their pride, self-esteem and economic independence,” Mr Barnett said in a statement.
“I am extremely proud the WA Parliament has embraced this opportunity to formally recognise Noongar customs and culture and their contribution to our State.”