QUEENSLAND: The Pitta Pitta people have had native title recognised over 30,000 square kilometres of land in western Queensland in an historic judgment.
Sitting in the town of Boulia on Tuesday, the Federal Court approved a consent determination giving the Pitta Pitta non-exclusive rights to the land, stretching across the Boulia, Cloncurry, Diamantina and Winton municipalities.
The ruling gives the Pitta Pitta people the right to be present on, travel through, hunt, fish and conduct traditional ceremonies on the land.
Consent on the determination was reached with the four shire councils, 15 pastoralists, Ergon Energy and two mining companies.
Carmel Belford, of the six native title applicants, said Tuesday represented the end of a 13-year struggle for the Pitta Pitta people.
“It’s very important – some of the original elders involved in this have died since this fight began,” she told AAP.
Ms Belford said the formal recognition of title would allow for economic development in the Boulia region.
“I’d like to look at getting a gallery and an art museum here, and to show the history of the town here and the families,” she said.
“We’re also keen to support the school, the hospital and the Royal Flying Doctors.”
A statement from Queensland South Native Title Services, who represented the Pitta Pitta, said Boulia’s Aboriginal people had suffered greatly since white settlement.
“The first white settlers to the area gave rise to some of the worst frontier violence experienced in Queensland,” the statement said.
“Following this early contact period, Pitta Pitta survivors suffered harsh treatment, slave labour, sexual exploitation and draconian punishments including hangings at the hands of the early settlers.”
The statement said the determination “demonstrates the strength and resilience of Pitta Pitta culture”.