The Far West Coast Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC administers land on behalf of the Far West Coast Native Title Claim Group, which includes the Mirning people, the Wirangu people, the Kokatha people, the Maralinga Tjarutja people, the Yalata people and the descendants of Edward/Ted Roberts, with the Court recognising that many members were affiliated with more than one group. Their native title rights and interests were first recognised in the Far West Coast native title determinations of 2013.
This consent determination follows the amalgamation of five previous, partially overlapping claims, (the Edward/Ted Roberts, the Maralinga Tjarutja, the Mirning, the Wirangu #1 and Yalata native title claims), now the Far West Coast Native Title Claim Group. The determination area consists of approximately 75,249 km2 in the far south-west of South Australia and includes many sites of significance in coastal country, wooded coastal plain and dry inland salt lake, soak and sandhill country. The determination area includes the towns of Ceduna/Thevenard, Denial Bay, Smoky Bay, Penong, Fowlers Bay and Coorabie. Over 85% of the determination area is land dedicated as national park, reserve or wilderness area.
As the application combined three different language groups, the Court specifically considered the concept of ‘society’ under s223 of the Native Title Act (NTA). The Court reiterated that the evidence must show there is a recognisable group or society that presently recognises and observes traditional laws and customs in the determination area. The Court found this to be evident in this matter, and noted that language was “not the critical factor in determining native title rights and interests in the area.”
The Court noted that, immediately following the making of the determination, the State, the Applicant and the nominated native title holding body were to execute the Far West Coast Settlement ILUA. This agreement was expected to include the surrender and consequent extinguishment of native title over a number of land parcels. The agreement would also require that the non-extinguishment principle be applied to the vesting of adjacent land in the determination area, where certain acts had been undertaken, as intermediate period acts, which would otherwise extinguish native title.