• The Uluru statement from the heart was brought to the conference in Broome (Kimberley Land Council)Source: Kimberley Land Council
This year's national native title conference has wrapped up in Broome. It coincided with a big week for treaty developments around the country.
Rangi Hirini

8 Jun 2018 - 3:33 PM  UPDATED 8 Jun 2018 - 3:40 PM

It was a big week for the 800 delegates who travelled from across the country to the small Kimberley town for this year’s native title conference.

Organised by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) in partnership with the Kimberley Land Council, this year's theme was 'Many Laws, One Land: Legal and Political co-existence'.

“It’s really about how do groups of people find ways to be true to ourselves and live out our identities in the context of a multifaceted, multicultural country,” AIATSIS CEO Craig Ritchie told NITV News.

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There were a variety of open seminars during the week, with talks on water rights, exclusive possession, conflict of laws, and the path to treaty. 

Gail Mabo, the daughter of Uncle Eddie Mabo, gave a speech about the importance of women in native title.

“Behind every strong man is a greater woman,” she told the audience.

Ms Mabo also took the time to acknowledge her mother’s strength in supporting her late father. His legal battle for land rights paved the way for native title. 

A heated session, which the media was excluded from attending, spoke about the Uluru Statement and need for more to be done for Indigenous voices to be heard. 

A treaty discussion took place on the last day of the conference, with some disagreement over what the best approach would be.

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Professor Larissa Behrendt says treaty has never been off the agenda.

“So I think it is possible, I think each time it comes up to the national level we’re close to it," she told NITV News.

"I think what’s happening in Victoria where there’s now a treaty commission, it’s now no longer possible for people to say it can't be done."

West Australian Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt told some attendees that once the Noongar native title settlement is completed there is a possibility WA will enter into their own treaty discussions.

“Some people have described the proposed Noongar Settlement as Australia’s first Treaty with Indigenous peoples,” he said.

The National Native Title Conference will now move to an event which takes place every second year.

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