Jun 16, 2024 | Local News

Kabi Kabi people recognised as native title owners of Sunshine Coast

Vivienne Wynter

The Kabi Kabi people’s native title claim over lands from Brisbane to Bundaberg, including Gympie, was upheld in the Federal Court on Monday 17 June 2024.

The claim is for non-exclusive use and only applies to non-freehold land such as vacant or unallocated state land, national parks, some leasehold properties and reserves.

Non-exclusive rights do not prevent non-Indigenous people from using the land if they also have a legal interest to that land.

Justice Collier formally recognised the Kabi Kabi people as native title holders over around 365,345 hectares of traditional country, centred on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.

Queensland South Native Title Services (QSNTS), which is acting for the claimants, said Part A of the claim extends south from Elimbah Creek catchment, Sandstone Point and Bribie Island and north to include Cooloola National Park, Curra State Forest and the Mary and Isis Rivers.

The claim extends east from the lowest tide of the coastline west to Nambour, Jimna and the Burnett and Coast Ranges.

The determination area includes Gympie, Noosa, Maroochydore, Caloundra, Bribie Island, and Mudjimba Island.

The claim area

The Kabi Kabi People’s native title rights are likely to include the right to, ‘take resources from the area for any purpose’.

A statement from QSNTS said prior to this determination, the right was confined to personal, communal and non-commercial purposes.

A successful native title claim could also provide the Traditional Owners with a right to negotiate with others about how land is used and managed.

Kabi Kabi traditional owner Norman Bond said the decision meant ‘stability and grounding to build the Kabi Kabi Nation to where it should be.’

‘It means the Kabi Kabi People can be formally recognised by all tiers of government and by the public without feeling they (Kabi Kabi People) have to justify who they are, because the native title claim process was not complete.’ Mr Bond said.

(L-R) Brian Warner, Kerry Jones, Norman Bond, Uncle Alex Davidson, Justice Collier, Aunty Helena Gulash, Uncle Michael Douglas and Melissa Bond. PHOTO: Sophie Gibbs

Congratulating the Kabi Kabi Native Title Holders, QSNTS CEO, Tim Wishart said, ‘today’s determination marks a significant milestone for the Kabi Kabi People in being recognised as the traditional occupiers of the land and waters in the area.’

QSNTS CEO Tim Wishart

‘They have demonstrated their resilience and adherence to culture by maintaining and passing on traditional law and custom despite the dreadful effects of the colonisation process and the urbanisation of much of their country,’ Mr Wishart said.

About the claim

The Kabi Kabi native title claim was first lodged with the Federal Court in May 2013.

It is supported by evidence that the Kabi Kabi people continue to maintain and protect places of importance and significance within the claim area in accordance with their traditional laws and customs.

The existence of these rights is demonstrated through group members participating in cultural heritage surveys, with a special focus on bora ceremony sites.

The main significance for some Kabi Kabi People is that they follow the precedents of journeys known to have been made by the ‘old people’.

Significant sites and areas include:

  • Mooloola River
  • Maroochy River
  • Sandstone Point
  • Murdering Creek
  • Glass House Mountains – Coonowrin, Tibrogargan, Beerwah, Tunbubudla, Elimbah, Ngungun, and Miketeebumulgrai
  • Mount Coolum
  • Mount Ninderry
  • Noosa Headlands (Wuntama) and Lake Cootharaba (Gungwinwa)
  • Buderim Falls
  • Mudjimba Island

Native title rights in detail

The Kabi Kabi people are seeking acknowledgment of their rights to:

a) access, be present on, move about on and travel over the area;

b) camp on the area, and for that purpose, erect temporary shelters on the area;

c) take resources of the area for any purpose;

d) take and use the water of the area for personal, domestic and non-commercial communal purposes (including cultural and spiritual purposes);

e) participate in cultural activities on the area;

f) be buried and bury Native Title Holders within the area;

g) maintain places of importance and areas of significance to the Native Title Holders under their laws and customs and protect those places and areas from physical harm;

h) teach on the area the physical and spiritual attributes of the area;

i) hold meetings on the area; and

j) light fires on the area for domestic purposes including cooking, but not for the purpose of hunting or clearing vegetation.

This will be the first time that the right of native title holders to ‘take resources from the area for any purpose’ is being recognised in South-East Queensland.

 

IMAGE at top of story: Kabi Kabi native title claimants outside the Federal Court. PHOTO: Sophie Gibbs QSNTS

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