Revitalising Working Party Meetings - 18 July 2017
SWALSC is undertaking a project to revitalise Working Party Meetings by contacting Working Party Family Representatives who are not attending Working Party Meetings regularly, so that we can understand why they are not able to attend and see if we can work together to increase the number of Representatives participating in the meetings.
Working Parties make important decisions about Native Title Future Acts and Culture and Heritage matters, and the new Standard Noongar Heritage Agreement has made their role in preserving Noongar heritage more important than ever.
As elected representatives of the Noongar families, Working Party Family Representatives play an important role in representing their family's voice in decision making, and sharing information about the decisions Working Parties make with their family and community networks. That is why it is important that Working Party Family Representatives attend Working Party meetings on a regular basis.
If you are a Working Party Family Representative who is finding it difficult to attend Working Party meetings, please phone SWALSC on 9358 7400 so we can work together to ensure your family is represented in the important work the Working Parties do on behalf of Noongar people.
NAIDOC Week Events
Naidoc Family Day - Town of Bassendean - Thursday 6 July
The Town of Bassendean will be hosting a NAIDOC Family day at Ashfield Reserve, 10:30am - 3pm, Thursday, 6 July 2017. Bring the family to one of Perth's biggest and best National NAIDOC Week events for a fantastic day of performance, cultural celebration, health and community information stalls, jobs expo, and more. Everything is FREE. Join up for ongoing event updates. Proudly presented by Town of Bassendean and Derbarl Yerrigan Health Services Inc.
Implementation of the Noongar Native Title Agreement Back on Track
Statement from the CEO - 16 June 20017
When I last wrote to you on 2 February 2017, I explained the outcome of the court case brought by Mingli McGlade, Margaret Culbong, Mervyn Eades and Naomi Smith (the McGlade applicants) to prevent the Registrar of the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) from considering the Whadjuk, Ballardong, South West Boojarah and Wagyl Kaip Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) for registration.
I then promised you that SWALSC would take every step necessary to ensure that the decisions made by the Noongar community at the six authorisation meetings would be honoured, so that all six Noongar ILUAs could become registered.
Where have we been?
In 2015, all six Noongar claim groups approved the negotiated agreement with the State Government and authorised the registration of all six ILUAs with the NNTT.
Lawyers acting for the McGlade applicants argued in court that irrespective of the fact that all six authorisation meetings voted to approve the Agreement, and irrespective of the fact that the meetings directed the Noongar ‘Named Applicants’ to sign the ILUAs on behalf of the groups, every single Named Applicant should also have signed the ILUAs before they could be submitted to the NNTT for registration.
SWALSC opposed the McGlade applicants in court by arguing that the five out of 44 Named Applicants who did not sign the ILUAs should not be able to veto the decisions made at the authorisation meetings. SWALSC’s argument was supported by a ruling of the Federal Court in 2010 known as the ‘Bygrave’ decision, which held that if at least one of the Named Applicants signed an ILUA after it had been properly authorised, then the ILUA could be registered.
The Full Bench of the Federal Court decided in the McGlade decision that the way the Native Title Act was interpreted in the Bygrave decision was incorrect, and that all Named Applicants are required to sign an ILUA before it can be presented to the Registrar of the NNTT for registration.
What did we do?
Since February, all of us at SWALSC have been working hard to find a path forward to honour the decisions made by the Noongar community at the six authorisation meetings.
We sought legal advice, and formed a view on the best path forward. We decided that the Native Title Act should be amended to restore the way the Act was interpreted before the McGlade decision.
SWALSC worked with the other Native Title Representative Bodies across Australia to find agreement on this solution and to approach the Commonwealth government to amend the Native Title Act.
The Commonwealth government agreed that the Act should be amended. They understood that the McGlade decision invalidated over one hundred other operational ILUAs across Australia and had the effect of giving one Named Applicant the ability to veto a decision made by an entire Native Title Claim Group by refusing to sign an ILUA after it had been agreed to.
The Commonwealth government introduced a bill into the Australian Parliament to amend the Native Title Act. A round of Senate committee hearings were then held to examine the bill, and SWALSC made written and oral submissions to these hearings.
We also met with members of the Commonwealth government, the Opposition, and the State government to ensure that all parties understood the importance of the proposed changes to the Noongar people.
We explained that the amendments to the Native Title Act were necessary to restore the ability of Aboriginal people to decide for ourselves how we make decisions about native title matters.
We also made it clear that the negotiated agreement will deliver a solid base on which the Noongar community can come together to heal our families, heal our country, strengthen our culture, and build a strong future for all Noongar people.
On 14 June 2017, the bill to amend the Native Title Act passed through both Houses of Parliament with the support of the government and the opposition.
What is the path forward?
Once the bill is proclaimed by the Governor General and becomes law, then the four Noongar ILUAs that were the subject of the McGlade decision will be resubmitted to the Registrar for consideration for approval.
This means that the agreement between the Noongar people and the State is now back on track towards implementation.
There will still be some administrative and legal hurdles to overcome before the agreement and the ILUAs become fully operational, but this is an important step towards honouring the decisions made by the Noongar community at the 2015 authorisation meetings.
We will post a newsletter to all SWALSC members in the coming weeks with more detail on the next steps towards implementation.
Thank you for your ongoing patience and support while we work through these issues.
Message from the CEO
Thursday 2 February 2017
Federal Court Decision in McGlade v Native Title Registrar  FCAFC 10
Today, the Full bench of the Federal Court handed down its decision in the Court cases brought by Mingli Wanjurri McGlade, Margaret Culbong, Mervyn Eades and Naomi Smith to prevent the Registrar of the National Native Title Tribunal from considering the Whadjuk, Ballardong, South West Boojarah and Wagyl Kaip Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) for registration.
Between January and March 2015, the six Noongar claim groups held authorisation meetings to consider the settlement of their claims for native title and decided whether to approve the benefits set out in six ILUAs negotiated with the State Government.
All six authorisation meetings voted to approve the negotiated settlement of their claims for native title; voted to approve the ILUA for each region; and voted to direct the Noongar ‘Named Applicants’ to sign the ILUAs on behalf of the group.
Of the 44 Named Applicants across the six groups, five Named Applicants refused to sign the ILUAs they were directed to sign.
Lawyers acting for two of these five Named Applicants, and two other Noongar people who were not Named Applicants, went to the High Court seeking an order to prevent the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) from registering the Whadjuk, Ballardong, South West Boojarah and Wagyl Kaip ILUAs. No applications were made to prevent the registration of the Yued or the Gnaala Karla Booja ILUAs. The matter was referred by the High Court to the Federal Court for trial in February 2016.
At the trial, lawyers for Mingli Wanjurri McGlade, Margaret Culbong, Mervyn Eades and Naomi Smith argued that it did not matter that the Noongar Authorisation meetings voted to approve the Agreements or that the meetings directed the Noongar ‘Named Applicants’ to sign the ILUAs on behalf of the groups. They argued that because some of the Named Applicants did not honour the direction of the meeting and refused to sign the ILUAs, the ILUAs could not be submitted to the NNTT for registration.
SWALSC’s position at trial was to support the decisions made at the six Noongar authorisation meetings by arguing that it is the decisions made by the groups that matter, not whether every single Named Applicant signed the ILUAs. SWALSC argued that five people should not be able to veto the decisions made at the meetings and ignore the group’s direction by refusing to sign the ILUAs.
SWALSC’s position was supported by a previous decision of the Court in a case known as QGC Pty Ltd v Bygrave (No 2). The legal principle arising from that case has been relied on to register hundreds of Agreements made by Aboriginal people across Australia where some of the Named Applicants have refused to sign Agreements approved by the members of the native title group.
Today, the Full Bench of the Federal Court decided that the way the Native Title Act was interpreted in the Bygrave (No 2) case was wrong, and that all Named Applicants must sign an Agreement before the Agreement can be presented to the Registrar of the National Native Title Tribunal for registration.
SWALSC will now take the time to read and understand the written decision, seek legal advice, and let the Board of Directors consider that legal advice before deciding on the best path forward.
The Court’s decision today will provide guidance and SWALSC remains committed to taking every step necessary to ensure that the decisions made by the Noongar community at the six authorisation meetings are honoured and that all six ILUAs become registered.
A further update will be provided on Facebook, the SWALSC web page and in writing to all SWALSC members advising where we go next once we have had time to read and understand the Court’s decision and decide on the best path forward.
Thank you for your strength and for your patience while we work through this.
Chief Executive Officer
SWALSC Calls on Premier to immediately halt clearing of land for Roe8