Ugar traditional boundaries project

Thursday, 2 June 2016
Sereako Stephen
James McNamera

Consent determination orders recognising communal native title over an area generally do not deal with traditional ownership of land at an individual or family level. This lack of legal clarity can create challenges for PBCs which are required to consult with and obtain the consent of the common law native title holders who will be affected by a “native title decision” before the decision can be made. In some cases there is uncertainty or even dispute in relation to the identity of the affected native title holders for a particular area of land related to a proposed “native title decision”. 

The negative impact of uncertainty about traditional ownership directly impacts on proponents, local and state governments and other parties seeking to negotiate native title agreements with PBCs. One community of native title holders, the Ugarem Le of the far eastern Torres Strait island of Ugar successfully embarked upon
a project which addressed uncertainties about the location of discrete local rights in land through a process that involved confirming, pegging out and mapping traditional boundaries for the entire island. 

The project was strongly communityinitiated and driven, led by the PBC which collaborated with the Torres Strait Regional Authority and its legal advisers Gilkerson Legal, the National Native Title Tribunal, the Torres Strait Regional Council and the Queensland State Government Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander