The High Court of Australia will have the final word about if the public need permission from Traditional Owners to access popular tourist beaches in WA’s Kimberly region.
The Federal Court has ruled that beaches north of Broome are the exclusive possession of native title holders but that decision is being appealed by the federal and WA governments.
The appeal is expected to be heard in the High Court later this year.
Nolan Hunter, CEO of the Kimberley Land Council, believes that native title trumps the public’s legal right of access.
"This is about how the people should not take it for granted that Aboriginal people are just here to be abused, or taken advantage of, or dispossessed," he told the ABC.
"It doesn't make it right that people's access to beaches are far greater than people's access to be recognised as the people for the land that they've been connected to for thousands of years."
Ben Wyatt, the WA Aboriginal affairs minister, has issued a public statement addressing some of the challenges in managing the coastline.
"The state always seeks to maintain public access rights to beaches and waterways as a part of determinations of native title," he said.
"We also need to ensure that Aboriginal interest holders who are not native title holders also have their rights of access to these public places protected."