The successful Gunditjmara native title claim in the 1980s sits alongside other well-known benchmarks in Australian land rights history, such as the Gurindji (Wave Hill) walk-off and land claim which led to the development of land rights legislation in the Northern Territory.
In March 2007, celebrations were held on Gunditjmara country in southwestern Victoria to celebrate a native title consent determination - determination that is reached through the consent of all parties, rather than litigation. The celebrations were at the base of the volcanic mountain Budj Bim, also known as Mount Eccles National Park, and followed a special hearing of the Federal Court of Australia on country. On this day, the Gunditjmara people spoke about how the native title determination was the end of a long struggle for recognition of their status as the first peoples of their country. They also talked about their future work to protect their native title rights and interests, and how the business of land justice continues.
Focusing on the term 'land justice' emphasises a broader agenda than the recent high profile native title determination. The historic Mabo v Queensland (No 2) native title decision (commonly known as the Mabo case) was not a comprehensive response to the land justice concerns of Australia's Indigenous peoples. Both native title claimants and governments have worked to overcome this. As a result, other languages have developed alongside native title, as well as those languages that pre-date native title, including: 'alternative settlements', 'non-native title outcomes', land justice' and 'treaty'. Fundamentally, 'land justice' encompasses respect for people and country; it is an expression of shared past, present and future with the land.
For the Gunditjmara, the road to native title was a long learning process and a long fight that was passed down through the generations. They are proud of their reputation as the 'fighting Gunditjmara'
This book and DVD is only one version of the Gunditjmara Land Justice Story, a story that is told many different ways.