Native title victory in Victoria

After a 15-year legal saga, native title rights have been granted to two Aboriginal groups in a moving Federal Court session on Victoria's coast.

After a 15-year legal saga, native title rights have been granted to two Aboriginal groups in a moving Federal Court session on Victoria's coast.

The ruling covers about 4000 hectares of land in the state's south-west, including country shared by the Gunditjmara and Eastern Maar people.

Ceremonial possum skin cloaks covered the makeshift bench as Justice Tony North delivered the court's findings, and documents were handed to elders - completing a draining 15-year legal process.

Gunditjmara elder Uncle Johnny told SBS that the decision was "the final recognition that we do belong and we are here and have been for so long and to be recognised at the top level of this country."

In 2007 a separate court ruling formally recognised 133 000 hectares of adjacent land including the Mount Eccles National Park, but an objection delayed today's decision.

"Many people had been looking for justice for decades, we were keen to cut through the red tape that were just to all concerned and could be implemented quickly," said Attourney General Robert Clark.

Today the communities celebrated, symbolically on the 150th anniversary of the opening of Aboriginal Missions in Victoria's south-west.

Source SBS

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