URGENT! REVERSE or PREVENT UNLAWFUL NATIVE TITLE CLAIM!
The Far West Coast Native Title claim in South Australia is a claim that combined 6 different Aboriginal groups into one claim. This claim is NOT traditional in any sense. It was put together by lawyers, anthropologists and others to suit purposes which Mirning do not agree with. If this claim is not reversed or prevented, the traditional owners of the Nullarbor in South Australia, the Mirning, will lose the control and traditional ownership of their land and waters to the 5 other different Aboriginal groups in the combined claim. These different groups who have their own traditional lands had previously made overlapping claims over Mirning land, but Mirning people declare that they DO NOT have traditional rights or interests over Mirning land. Mirning Elders and community members say that in a meeting at Port Augusta, South Australia, in 2005 they were misled into being part of the combined claim.
To make matters worse lawyers only allowed two family groups of Mirning to participate in this meeting to make the decision to combine or not with the other 5 tribes. They did not allow any of the other Mirning families around Australia from participating in this meeting. This is against both Mirning traditional law and custom and the requirements of the Native Title Act. For this reason alone it made it an invalid authorization meeting. All Mirning people must be involved in decision making such as these and there must be a consensus. Lawyers for the claim and the State of South Australia know this, yet they are still treating this claim as valid. The claim has never been properly authorized at any other stage (according to the requirements of the Native Title Act) which makes it invalid.
At the meeting in 2005 between lawyers and a group of Mirning people, the Mirning voted to agree to combine only on the condition that there be a meeting to determine how the claim would be divided into parcels. This meeting was meant to occur before the registration of a new combined claim. Mirning people would only have accepted an outcome where they retained their own parcel of traditional lands and waters which only they could speak for and have native title rights and interests over, whilst the others could do the same for their own parcels of land within the claim area. If the Mirning could not reach that agreement, they would not have joined in a new combined claim with the other groups. These conditions were fundamental. However, lawyers went ahead and registered the combined claim without allowing the Mirning people to have this meeting. This action resulted in allowing the other 5 tribal groups to then be able to speak for and deal with all Mirning lands and waters in South Australia, and to deal with mining companies.
Mirning people are trapped in this claim. To date, the Courts have refused Mirning attempts to reverse the amalgamation of the combined claim. Mirning people have evidence which shows that information and affidavits relied upon for registration of the combined claim, was misleading and possibly deceptive. After many years of trying, Mirning people have been unable to have these issues and evidence presented to the Courts due to lack of funding for legal representation. The lawyers for the claim are using taxpayers’ money to run their cases and to be able to obtain the services of Queens Counsels to prevent Mirning people from being able to present incriminating evidence, both oral and written, into the Courts.
This petition is very important and URGENT as TIME is running out fast as the State of South Australia and the Applicants of the Far West Coast Native Title Claim have just agreed in principle for a grant of Native Title for the combined claim. We need to get this petition delivered before the Court consents to this agreement. This is a Human Rights issue against the Mirning people.
Sent by Avaaz on behalf of Bunna’s petition
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