After a 15-year battle, native title rights have been granted to two Aboriginal groups on Victoria's south-west coast.
As reported by The Age, on 27 July the Federal Court of Australia granted the native title rights of Deen Maar Island to the Gunditjmara and Eastern Maars peoples, along with approximately 4000 hectares of Crown land between Dunkeld and Yambuk.
At a special sitting of the Federal Court, Justice Tony North granted the rights, consented to by the Victorian Government and other parties through mediation.
Victorian Attorney-General Robert Clark, who attended the court sitting, congratulated the parties on the historic outcome.
"Today is the fourth time native title has been recognised in Victoria through agreement between the parties," said Clark.
Justice North commended the goodwill and professionalism of all parties involved and said the day marked a special achievement for the Gunditjmara and Eastern Maar people.
"Their success is a shared victory," North said. "The State, the Commonwealth and the other respondents have taken a step to right past wrongs and lay a basis for reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians."
The land rights claim was originally part of a 1996 native title application by the Gunditjmara people for about 137,000 hectares of land. But 4000 hectares were set aside from that application in 2007, to include the Eastern Maar people in the claim.
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