The Gnulli Application
The Gnulli Application was lodged with with the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) on 14 April 1997 . It was amended four times in order, among other things, to change the scope of the determination area [9-11]. Some members of the Gnulli applicant were also replaced during the process of the claim under s 66B of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (NTA). The most recent amendment was made (and accepted) on 21 February 2019 .
The Gnulli #2 Application
The Gnulli #2 Application was filed in the Court on 7 August 2018 and covers an area adjacent to the south eastern boundary of the Gnulli Application . It was made on behalf of the same claim group as the Gnulli Application, although described in a different form [30-31]. The Native Title Registrar was satisfied that the Gnulli #2 Application addressed all necessary criteria required for registration, and the application was entered on the Register of Native Title Claims on 14 December 2018 .
The Gnulli #3 Application
The Gnulli #3 Application was filed in the Court on 1 May 2019 and covers an area within the Gnulli Application . The Gnulli #3 Application was made on behalf of the same persons as both the Gnulli #2 and the Gnulli Applications so was not able to satisfy s 190C(3) of the NTA in order to be registered -. The Registrar of the NNTT subsequently provided public notification of the Gnulli #3 Application under s 66 of the NTA .
Details of Judgment
Connection to country
The native title holders have religious and spiritual connections to the lands and waters specified in the determination area .
Under traditional law and custom, rights to land in the Gnulli claim areas are held at the level of extended families. The current families who hold these rights are the descendants of the members of the original groups that held land within the Yinggarda, Baiyungu and Thalanyji language area . They are linked with other families across generations through a shared language identity. Therefore, while the rights and responsibilities for country are held by the claimants, identity and belonging in relation to law and custom also operates at the broader level of language labels .
Rights to the Yinggarda Area (and membership of the Yinggarda native title holders) are acquired through having a Yinggarda parent or grandparent. Being born in, living in, or having knowledge of the Yinggarda Area alone (without the requisite element of descent from an Yinggarda forebear) does not provide for rights and interest in land. On the other hand, while filiation is an essential prerequisite, it does not automatically confer rights and interests unless a person has a connection to the Yinggarda Area, and their connection is recognised by the Yinggarda native title holding group . The case is the same for rights to the Baiyungu and/or Thalanyji Area .
Ongoing connection to the Determination Area
The native title holders have maintained their connection to their respective countries since the assertion of European sovereignty. It is evident from the archaeological and historical record that Aboriginal people have occupied and used the resources of the land in the determination area since well before first contact .
An order of determination is appropriate
The Court found it appropriate to make the determination sought by the parties in respect of the Gnulli, Gnulli #2 and Gnulli #3 Applications .