Historic day as Kakadu land returns to Aboriginal hands

The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment

The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians

Nearly half of Kakadu National Park will return to Aboriginal hands today, as part the Morrison Government’s historic finalisation of six Aboriginal land grants across the Northern Territory.

The handbacks recognise the rights of traditional owners and their deep connection with Country.

Four land claims totalling 9,733 square kilometres in Kakadu National Park, a land claim incorporating the Old Elsey Homestead, and the Urapunga Township will return to Aboriginal hands, allowing traditional owners to determine the future use of their land.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP said today’s handbacks resolve around 50 per cent of the land area of outstanding claims in the NT, and marks the culmination of a long journey with some claims more than 30 years old.

“Aboriginal peoples’ connection to their country and cultural traditions is uninterrupted and enduring,” Minister Wyatt said.

“The granting of this land recognises this in law, giving traditional owners a seat a say in the management of their land. It affords Aboriginal people the right to assert their cultural authority and to build partnerships to manage their land for the ongoing benefit of their communities.

“Land security is economic security, and this move empowers Aboriginal Territorians to use their land for their future.

“These handbacks go directly towards target 15 of the National Agreement of Closing the Gap that seeks to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples legal rights or interests in land and sea Country by 15 per cent.

“These Deeds are a testament to the hand work of the Traditional Owners, the Northern Land Council and good faith negotiation from Parks Australia and the Northern Territory Government to reach an agreement that all parties can celebrate.”

Minister for the Environment, the Hon Sussan Ley MP, said today is an important milestone in the history of the iconic Kakadu National Park.

“These four land handbacks will now bring nearly all the land within Kakadu National Park under Aboriginal ownership,” Minister Ley said.

“They mark another important step towards a strong ongoing partnership between Traditional Owners and Parks Australia, as we work towards a stronger Indigenous voice in the joint management of Kakadu National Park.

“The addition of almost a million hectares recognised under Aboriginal ownership represents the greatest unity of land title and management since the park’s formation in 1979.

“The land will be leased back to the Director of National Parks with rent flowing in turn to the Traditional Owners of those lands.

“These land grants etch a line in the sand after a long wait for recognition and I thank all those that have been involved to get this done.”

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