South West Queensland’s Mithaka people now have a place to call their own following an historic land handover ceremony in the Channel Country today.
Mithaka traditional owner Joshua Gorringe said the freehold ownership of about 97 hectares of land in Betoota, about 140km east of Birdsville, would be an important base for future generations.
“The biggest thing for us is it gives us somewhere to call our own,” Mr Gorringe said.
“We’ve got great ambitions for this land. At the moment we are just doing baby steps, but hopefully in the future we can get houses on it and set it up as a keeping place for our history and culture.”
Mr Gorringe said the land would also be used as a home base for their youth camps, which are held on country and involve teaching school aged Mithaka kids their history and connection to country.
“We take our kids out to cultural sites and tell stories of our history, but we also go fishing, have art days and cook some bush tucker,” he said.
“This land gives us a base, right now there aren’t many facilities so hopefully we can set up toilets and showers for the camps.
“It will also be used by our Mithaka rangers, who travel across the country to ensure the protection of our cultural heritage sites.”
The Mithaka people celebrated their native title determination in October 2015 where native title was recognised over more than 33,000 square kilometres of land in Queensland’s south west.
Resources Minister Scott Stewart said the Queensland Government had transferred more than 6.24 million hectares of land under Queensland’s Aboriginal Land Act and Torres Strait Islander Land Act.
“Land transfers demonstrate the Palaszczuk Government’s ongoing commitment to recognising the rights, history and culture of our First Nations peoples and the deep connection they continue to hold to the land and to their ancestors,” Mr Stewart said.
“Today’s land transfer ensures the Mithaka people have a place of their own to practice culture, embrace their language and keep traditions alive.”
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford said this was an important milestone for the Mithaka people.
“Land transfers are an important step on the path to truth-telling, healing and true reconciliation,” Mr Crawford said.
“Our government is proud to work alongside First Nations people who continue to hold deep connection to country after more than 60,000 years.”