South West Native Title Settlement

The most comprehensive Native Title agreement negotiated in Australian history.

Cultural warning

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons in photographs, film, audio recordings or printed material.

 

Noongar people and Noongar Elders celebrating Traditional Owner recognition on the steps of the WA Parliament. Koorah, Nitja, Boordahwan (Past, Present, Future) Recognition Act 2016.
Noongar people and Noongar Elders celebrating Traditional Owner recognition on the steps of the WA Parliament. Koorah, Nitja, Boordahwan (Past, Present, Future) Recognition Act 2016.

 

South West Native Title Settlement

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The most comprehensive Native Title agreement negotiated in Australian history. The Settlement involves around 30,000 Noongar people and covers approximately 200,000 square kilometres of the south-west region.

The South West Native Title Settlement (Settlement) is a landmark native title agreement, negotiated between the Noongar people and the WA Government. The Settlement is a significant step towards self-determination and creates a Noongar governance structure to represent the rights and interests of the six Noongar Agreement groups. The Settlement is a long-term investment in the Noongar people and the shared future of Western Australia as a whole.

The Settlement package will provide the Noongar people with sustainable assets and options for developing Noongar interests, including opportunities for the WA Government to work in partnership with the Noongar people to elevate economic, social and community outcomes.

The Noongar peoples’ strong relationship to the Noongar lands (Noongar boodja) is reflected through the many components of the Settlement package, including the creation of a future Noongar Land Estate and the recognition of the Noongar people as the Traditional Owners of the south west region.

Elements of the Settlement package

Indigenous Land Use Agreements

South West Settlement map

The full details of the Settlement are recorded in six Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) made in compliance with the Native Title Act 1993 (NTA).

In early 2015, after extensive negotiations, the six Noongar Agreement Groups, through the relevant authorisation meetings, voted in the majority to settle native rights and interests in exchange for the wide-ranging Settlement package.  

The WA Government signed (executed) the six ILUAs on 8 June 2015. These were signed by the then Premier and all relevant WA Government parties. 

The authorisation by the Noongar people and the execution of the ILUAs by the WA Government did not signal the commencement of the Settlement as a number of conditions were still to be met at that time. 

On 17 October 2018, the Native Title Registrar registered all six ILUAs. This was a significant milestone towards the commencement of the Settlement. 

Applications seeking Judicial Review of the Native Title Registrar’s decisions to register the six ILUAs were then lodged with the Federal Court in December 2018.  

On 19 December 2019, the Full Federal Court unanimously confirmed that the Native Title Registrar was correct in registering the six ILUAs.

Once all legal proceedings are resolved and the ILUAs are conclusively registered, the Settlement can commence. 

Read the South West Native Title Settlement News for the latest information about the status and timing of the Settlement.

For a chronology of the key events for the South West Native Title Settlement, read the South West Native Title Settlement Timeline.

Resolution of native title in the Settlement Area

The Native Title Act (NTA) will continue to apply over the Settlement Area until the ILUAs are conclusively registered, the Settlement commences, and native title is surrendered, ceasing future act obligations in the Settlement Area.

A whole-of-government approach

The Settlement brings together a range of WA Government departments and instrumentalities working toward common goals within their various legislative and policy areas for the long-term benefit of the Noongar people.

Noongar Traditional Owners

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Recognition of the Noongar people as the Traditional Owners of the south-west region.

Noongar peoples' Traditional Owner recognition through an Act of Parliament

A fundamental component of the Settlement is the recognition of the Noongar people as the Traditional Owners of the south west region of Western Australia. On 6 June 2016, the Noongar people were recognised, through an Act of the WA Parliament, as the Traditional Owners of the south west region of Western Australia.

Read more about the Noongar peoples' recognition through an Act of Parliament.

Noongar Agreement Groups

The Noongar Nation is one of the largest Aboriginal cultural blocs in Australia and covers the entire south-west corner of Western Australia. At the time of British settlement up to 15 Noongar language dialects existed. To learn more about the Noongar people visit the Kaartidijin Noongar website, the Noongar Language Centre , and view the map of Indigenous Australia.

Read about some of the key events that have shaped Noongar history since British arrival (to learn more about the resilience of the Noongar people and the impact of colonisation.

Find below links to the 6 Indigenous Land Use Agreement maps that form the South West Native Title Settlement, the major towns within these areas, and references to some of the Noongar language groups specific to the regions. The listing of language groups is not definitive and consultation with Noongar people from the region should be sought through the relevant Noongar Elders – or contact the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council for advice.

Noongar Agreement Group Towns within the Indigenous Land Use Agreement Area People
Ballardong People ILUA York, Northam, Hyden, Kondinin - ILUA Map
  • Ballardong / Balardong
  • Njakinjaki / Ngadji Ngadji
Gnaala Karla Booja ILUA Mandurah, Bunbury, Donnybrook - ILUA Map
  • Pindjarup
  • Wilman
South West Boojarah ILUA Busselton, Dunsborough, Margaret River, Pemberton, Nannup - ILUA Map
  • Wadandi
  • Pibelman/Bibbulman
Wagyl Kaip and Southern Noongar ILUA Katanning, Gnowangerup, Albany - ILUA Map
  • Kaneang /Kaniyang
  • Koren / Koreng
  • Minang
  • Wudjari
Whadjuk People ILUA Perth metropolitan area - ILUA Map
  • Whadjuk/Wadjuk
Yued ILUA Jurien, Moora, Lancelin, Gingin - ILUA Map
  • Yued/Yuat
  • Amangu

Separate to the South West Native Title Settlement is the Esperance Nyungar Indigenous Land Use Agreement.

Map of the South West Native Title Settlement Agreement Areas.

Noongar governance

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The Noongar governance structure will operate with high level accountability and transparency to deliver the major assets provided through the Settlement.

The Noongar governance structure comprises three major components:

Noongar Boodja Trust - will hold and deliver assets for the Noongar Corporations

Noongar Corporations - the representatives of the six Noongar Agreement Groups and the only beneficiaries of the Noongar Boodja Trust

Noongar Committees - a range of committees and structures that provide support, direction and influence over how the Noongar Boodja Trust is managed.

Noongar Land

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A range of Noongar-held land assets, including further arrangements for Noongar peoples’ access to and co-management of Crown land with the WA Government.

Noongar Land Estate

The Noongar Land Estate will provide the Noongar people with a significant asset to be developed in line with Noongar cultural, social and economic aspirations for the benefit of generations to come. 

Read more about the Noongar Land Estate and the allocation of land

Noongar Land Fund

A 10-year fund to support the land, joint management and heritage objectives of the South West Native Title Settlement.

Read more about the Noongar Land Fund.

South West Conservation Estate

The Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions and the six Noongar Regional Corporations will enter into co-operative and joint management agreements for the care and protection of the Estate.

Read more about these agreements

Noongar peoples' access to Crown Land 

Land access licences will be provided to the six Noongar Regional Corporations to enable Noongar peoples' lawful access to certain unallocated Crown Land and unmanaged reserve land for customary activities.

Read more about access to Crown land.

Water by-laws

Amendments to the water by-laws provide Noongar peoples access to Public Drinking Water Source Areas for certain customary purposes.

Read more about the importance of access to water source areas.

Noongar heritage

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Frameworks to improve cooperation, management and preservation of Noongar heritage in compliance with the Aboriginal Heritage Act.

The Noongar peoples’ connection to the land and the desire to improve access and protect places of significance, were key elements in the negotiation of the Settlement. Two separate heritage agreements, the Noongar Standard Heritage Agreement and the Noongar Heritage Partnership Agreement, were negotiated. The Noongar Standard Heritage Agreement came into effect June 2015.

  • Noongar Standard Heritage Agreement (NSHA) ensures compliance with the Aboriginal Heritage Act and Regulations when a planned use activity may adversely impact an Aboriginal site. The NSHA provides:
    • a uniform and efficient approach to the conduct of Aboriginal heritage surveys
    • streamlined land approvals in compliance with the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 and Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 1974
    • consistency with the WA Government's Aboriginal Heritage Due Diligence Guidelines 
    • all parties with a clear, timetabled framework about their various obligations
    • a process to ensure the submission of relevant site or Aboriginal object information for inclusion on the Aboriginal Heritage Inquiry System.

Visit the DPLH website for all NSHA and Aboriginal Heritage Act information, resources or advice.

Community and economic development

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Commitments between the WA Government and Noongar people to increase economic opportunities and improve community development.

Community development

The Community Development Framework is a commitment between the WA Government and the Noongar People to a set of principles and priorities aimed at improving Noongar community development.

Read more about the Community Development Framework.

Economic participation

The Noongar Economic Participation Framework will assist Noongar business capacity and interests towards improving participation in the wider economy.

Read more about the Noongar Economic Participation Framework.

Noongar housing program

The transfer of housing assets to the Noongar Boodja Trust.

Read more about the Noongar housing program.

Capital works program

The WA Government will provide up to $6.5 million to establish offices for the Central Services Corporation and six Noongar Regional Corporations and conditional funds for the development of a Noongar Cultural Centre.

Read more about the Capital works Program.

Resources

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All publications and resources for the Settlement

Indigenous Land Use Agreements 

The full details of the South West Native Title Settlement are recorded in six Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) made in compliance with the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth).

Indigenous Land Use Agreements – schedules and annexures 

The various schedules and annexures within all six Indigenous Land Use Agreements.

Publications

Page reviewed 4 August 2020