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Attorney-General of the Northern Territory v Ward [2003] FCAFC 283 (Northern Territory)

Binomial Name: Federal Court of Australia
Date: 9 December 2003
Sub Category:Consent Determination (Native Title Act)
State/Country:Northern Territory, Australia
The Determination Area in Western Australia is described in Schedule 1 of the Determination. The area where native title exists is identified in Schedule 2 of the Determination and the area where native title does not exist is identified in Schedule 3 of the Determination. The area of the Northern Territory determination is described in the Schedule to that Determination.
Legal Status: Registered on the National Native Title Register
Legal Reference: Federal Court File No. WAD6001/95; National Native
Alternative Names:
  • Miriuwung-Gajerrong (Northern Territory)
  • Subject Matter:Native Title | Native Title - Extinguishment | Recognition of Native Title or Traditional Ownership
    Summary Information:
    Attorney-General of the Northern Territory v Ward [2003] FCAFC 283

    This is one of three consent determinations arising out of this case (see under 'Related Agreements' below).


    In the Northern Territory area (on remitter from the High Court in P62 of 2000 and P63 of 2000)

    Attorney-General of The Northern Territory (APPELLANT)
    Ben Ward & Ors on Behalf of the Miriuwung and Gajerrong People; Cecil Ningarmara & Ors; Delores Cheinmora & Ors on Behalf of the Balangarra Peoples (RESPONDENTS)

    Cecil Ningarmara & Ors (APPELLANT)
    Northern Territory of Australia; State of Western Australia (RESPONDENTS)

    Judges: Wilcox, North And Weinberg JJ
    Where made: Kununurra
    Determination: Native title exists in the entire Northern Territory determination area.
    Location: North-west of the Northern Territory, near Kununurra.

    The native title holders are the Damberal, Bindjen and Nyawamnyawam estate groups.

    The determination area is described in the Schedule ('the NT determination area').

    The native title rights found to exist include the non-exclusive right to use and enjoy the land in accordance with their traditional laws and customs. This includes the right to:
  • Hunt, gather and use natural resources, including food, medicinal plants, timber, stone and wild tobacco;
  • Live on the land, camp and erect shelters;
  • Engage in cultural activities on the land and conduct ceremonies; and
  • Access, maintain and protect areas of significance.

    Note: The case deals with land subject to native title claims in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Two agreements were reached and provided to the Federal Court as consent determinations at the time of the decision (9 December 2003). A third consent determination relating to areas where native title was found to exist in Western Australia was registered on the Native Title Register of Consent Determinations on 26 July 2005. This final consent determination was as a result of a court order that the determination in relation to the native title that was found to exist in the Western Australian area was only to "take effect" once a registered native title body corporate was identified as the prescribed body corporate (in line with the requirements of s 57 of the Native Title Act 1993(Cth) (NTA)).

    The three consent determinations are:
  • 'Miriuwung-Gajerrong (Northern Territory') in which native title was found to exist in the entire area;
  • 'Miriuwung-Gajerrong (Western Australia Area 2)' in which native title was found to exist in the entire area; and
  • 'Miriuwung-Gajerrong (Western Australia Area 1)' in which native title was found not to exist.
  • Detailed Information:
    The decision in this case is the final in a number of Federal and High Court decisions relating to the Miriuwung-Gajerrong #1 native title claim (National Native Title Tribunal file no. WC94/2; Federal Court No. WG6001/95). The Statement of the Court preceding this final decision provides a summary of these decisions and appeals. The notes prefacing each of the determinations in the decision also provide information about relevant actions leading to the decision. The Reasons for Judgement provided at the end of the determination in relation to the Northern Territory include a 'History of the Litigation.' (Refer to the URL link to this decision above).

    The determinations set out the terms of the agreements, including: who holds native title; which rights and interests apply in relation to the areas of land where native title was determined to exist; and other (non-native title) rights and interests that exist in the areas. The determinations were made with the Miriuwung-Gajerrong people in relation to the Western Australia area and with the Miriuwung-Gajerrong and Balangarra peoples in relation to the Northern Territory. Each of the parties to the court proceedings became party to the consent determinations, including the Northern Territory of Australia and the State of Western Australia.

    Related Entries

  • Attorney-General of the Northern Territory v Ward [2003] FCAFC 283 (Western Australia Area 1)
  • Attorney-General of the Northern Territory v Ward [2003] FCAFC 283 (Western Australia Area 2)
  • Organisation
  • National Native Title Tribunal
  • Federal Court of Australia
  • Northern Territory of Australia
  • Miriuwung and Gajerrong # 4 (Native Title Prescribed Body Corporate) Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC
  • Legislation
  • Native Title Act 1993 (Cth)
  • Native Title Amendment Act 1998 (Cth)
  • People
  • Miriuwung Gajerrong People
  • Balangarra People
  • Ben Ward and others - Respondent
  • Attorney-General of the Northern Territory
  • Case Law
  • Western Australia v Ward (2002) [2002] HCA 28 (8 August 2002)

  • References

    National Native Title Tribunal Native Title Hot Spots
    National Native Title Tribunal (2003) Miriuwung-Gajerrong determination a monumental achievement


    Attorney-General of the Northern Territory v Ward [2003] FCAFC 283 (9 December 2003) Map - ( PDF | Thumbnail | Image)


    Native Title (Australia) | Consent Determination (Native Title Act 1993 (Cth)) (Australia)

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