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NEWSFLASH: Kakadu National Park Returns to First Nations Traditional Owners


On 24 March 2022, half of the Word Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory was returned to its traditional custodians. This includes around 10 000 square kilometres of the traditional country of the Limilngan/Minitja, Murumburr, Gianduja, Yurlkmanj, Wurngomgu, Bolmo, Wurrkbarbar, Matjba, Uwinymil, Bunidj, Djindibi, Mirrar Gundjeihmi, and Dadjbaku peoples.

Deed of Grant recognising traditional owners as new landowners
Deed of Grant recognising traditional owners as new landowners

"For too long there have been two classes of land in Kakadu National Park - Aboriginal land and other land 'subject to Aboriginal land claim'," said Samuel Bush-Blanasi, the Northern Land Council chairman. This refers to land already under Indigenous title and vacant Crown land that is yet to be brought under Indigenous title via Native Title claims.

Hundreds celebrated the historical event at Cooinda after 45 years of years of "unfinished business". Such "unfinished business", as Mr Bush-Blanasi describes, refers to the land grants to the Kakadu Aboriginal Land Trust previously held on behalf of the traditional owners.

Subsequently, the handback will provide ongoing economic benefits for local people. Mr Bush-Blanasi suggests that there will be opportunities to direct and be involved in enhanced park operations, fire abatement programs, and the new carbon economy.

"Traditional owners can take better care of their country through improved joint management and cultural site protection and by caring for their country as only they know how to."

Ken Wyatt, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, commented on the ancillary benefit of increased jobs, stating that, "Land security is economic security and this move empowers Aboriginal Territorians to use their land for their future.”


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