Native title claims research – where to pitch the microscope

Monday, 5 June 2017
Rob Blowes

Identifying a research area for native title claim purposes involves certain ‘how long is a piece of string’ questions. The answers you get will depend upon ‘where you pitch your microscope.’ (apologies to Professor Peter Sutton for taking these phrases out of the context in which he has recently used them).
Regional scale research is generally to be preferred, at least as a starting point and as a basis for determining an optimal level of social and geographic inclusion – who, and what areas may be included in or should be excluded from in a claim. Starting out broadly will also identify risks posed to or by nearby existing or future claims. 

Research at a regional scale is, however, not without its challenges and requires proper briefing, management, resourcing, researcher availability and co-operation between lawyers and researchers. However, in the long run it will likely produce better quality outcomes, costs savings and other significant benefits.