GLaWAC Rule Book

On 22 October 2010, the Federal Court recognised that the Gunaikurnai people hold native title over much of Gippsland. On the same day, the State entered into an agreement with the Gunaikurnai people under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic). The agreement between the State and the Gunaikurnai people was the first to be made under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act.

The agreement area extends from West Gippsland, near Warragul, east to the Snowy River and north to the Great Dividing Range. It also extends 200 metres offshore. The determination of native title under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) covers the same area.

Both the agreement and the native title determination only affect Crown land within this area. The Agreement outlines:

  • transfer of Aboriginal title over ten national parks and reserves to the Gunaikurnai people to be jointly managed with the State
  • rights for the Gunaikurnai people to access and use Crown land for traditional purposes, including hunting, fishing, camping and gathering, in accordance with existing laws
  • funding for the Gunaikurnai people to manage their affairs and fulfil their obligations under the settlement
  • an undertaking to develop protocols to recognise the Gunaikurnai people and strengthen the Gunaikurnai culture.

Crown Land Sales, Exploration Licence Applications, and all other notices concerning works on Native Title land.

Native Title

The Gunaikurnai first lodged their native title claim in 1997 and in October 2010, Justice North of the Federal Court granted a native title determination which recognised the Gunaikurnai as the native title holders over approximately 13,390 sq km of Gippsland. GLaWAC was appointed the Prescribed Body Corporate (PBC) holding native title rights and interests on trust for the Gunaikurnai. Alongside the consent determination, the Gunaikurnai were the first Traditional Owner group to negotiate a package with the State under the Settlement Act.

Any native title-determined crown land is subject to the ‘Future Act regime’ under the Native Title Act. The Future Act regime establishes procedures to follow so that actions affecting native title are done properly and are legally valid. The processes vary depending on the type of ‘act’ that is proposed.

Crown Land Sales

The Victorian Government occasionally sells surplus crown land, including land that is subject to native title. The sale of crown land will extinguish native title. There is no explicit right of veto, however, the State of Victoria does not currently compulsorily acquire native title-determined land, which means if agreement is not reached the sale will not proceed. (Note: the State’s position could change). This activity requires GLaWAC to “consult with and obtain the consent of native title holders” and compensation for the sale of crown land is usually negotiated.

Exploration Licence Applications

GLaWAC receives numerous exploration licence applications every year for exploration on Gunaikurnai native title-determined land. Under the Native Title Act, GLaWAC has a right to negotiate agreement terms with a Proponent, but does not have the right to stop the exploration.

A cultural heritage desktop assessment is made on each application, which is in turn reviewed by the Native Title and Cultural Heritage Sub-Committee (NTCHSC). The NTCHSC then makes a recommendation to the GLaWAC Board. If the Board accepts the recommendation, and the Board and the Proponent have agreed on the terms, all details to be made available on the website and mailed out to members with 4 weeks for response. First Nations will mail details to non-member native title holders on its mailing list. If any responses are received, these will be reviewed by the Board who will then decide whether to proceed with the agreement.

All Other Notices Concerning Works On Native Title Lands

There are various activities on native title lands which will trigger different future act processes. Depending on the activity, native title holders have the following procedural rights:
1. The right to be notified
2. The opportunity to comment
3. The right to be consulted
4. The right to negotiate over particular aspects of the future act
5. The right to object to the future act

GLaWAC will put up all notices concerning works on native title lands for native title holders to make comment if they wish. We will highlight where activities extinguish native title rights, although this is rarely the case.

Please see below current notices on land:

There are no current notices to consider at this time

RSA Negotiation

Wilsons Promontory (Yiruk) Native Title Claim

We have finished a report to help guide GLaWAC in our RSA re-negotiations, you can read it here.

The RSA Re-Negotiations give Gunaikurnai Traditional Owners the opportunity to build on the Agreement put in place in 2010 after many years of hard work by our Elders.

It’s not about starting out again– it’s about adding to what we have, making it better and getting improved outcomes as we build our own capacity and capability to manage.

We will be convening meetings both face to face and online, based on Covid-19 rules.

The Gunaikurnai people lodged a native title determination application in the Federal Court on 9 December 2014 under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth). The application included the land and waters west of the Gunaikurnai determination area to the Tarwin West River, including Wilsons Promontory and Cape Liptrap (the claim area).

In September 2019, the Gunaikurnai decided to withdraw from the current claim that was to be heard in the Federal Court in order to focus on discussion and mediation with Bunurong- Boon Wurrung communities to realise a joint vision and aspirations for Wilsons Promontory.

The determination application for Wilsons Promontory is a complex and ongoing matter, and GLaWAC will continue to work with other Traditional Owners to reach an agreement for this area of land.

Key Messages
– The Gunaikurnai hold strong connections to Yiruk (Wilsons Promontory) and have a long history of association with and caring for country.

– The Gunaikurnai name for this area, Yiruk, means rocky place. The Gunaikurnai spiritual deities, Loohern and Loohern Tula, roamed the mountains and valleys in Yiruk and we pay our respects to the deities.

– The Gunaikurnai will continue to assert their rights and interests over this area.

– The Gunaikurnai decided to withdraw the current claim in order to focus on discussion and mediation to realise a joint vision and aspirations for Wilsons Prom.

– The Gunaikurnai do not accept the findings of the second conference of experts.

– These findings have not been tested in court.

– The claim was discontinued with no adjudication as to its merits.

– This does not prevent a future claim being made by the Gunaikurnai over Wilsons Prom.