26 September 2023

Kakadu lands back in Indigenous hands

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The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) has announced that nearly half of the Northern Territory’s Kakadu National Park has been returned to Aboriginal hands.

In a statement, PM&C said the move followed the finalisation of six Aboriginal land grants across the Territory, recognising the rights of traditional owners and their deep connection with Country.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt said the handbacks resolved around 50 per cent of the land area of outstanding claims in the Northern Territory and marked the culmination of a long journey, with some claims more than 30 years old.

“Aboriginal peoples’ connection to their Country and cultural traditions is uninterrupted and enduring,” Mr Wyatt said.

“The granting of this land recognises this in law, giving traditional owners a say in the management of their land,” he said.

“It affords Aboriginal people the right to assert their cultural authority and to build partnerships to manage their land for the ongoing benefit of their communities.”

Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley said the four land handbacks would now bring nearly all the land within the Kakadu National Park under Aboriginal ownership.

“They mark another important step towards a strong ongoing partnership between Traditional Owners and Parks Australia, as we work towards a stronger Indigenous voice in the joint management of Kakadu National Park,” Ms Ley said.

“The addition of almost a million hectares recognised under Aboriginal ownership represents the greatest unity of land title and management since the Park’s formation in 1979,” she said.

Ms Ley said the land would now be leased back to the Director of National Parks, with rent flowing in turn to the Traditional Owners of those lands.

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