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Goemulgaw (Torres Strait Islanders) Corporation

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Overview

The Goemulgaw (Torres Strait Islanders) Corporation administers the native title rights and interests recognised over Mabuiag island. The Mabuiag People determination of June 2000 approved the draft determination negotiated by the parties. The parties agreed that the Gumulgal were the common law holders of native title rights and interests in the claim area. Their native title rights and interests include possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of the land subject to traditional laws and customs.

This agreement also recognised the other Indigenous peoples in the area: Papua New Guinean Indigenous people are also entitled to access to the determination area for traditional purposes.

In approving this draft determination of native title, Justice Drummond of the Federal Court explicitly considered historical and contemporary evidence that made an acknowledgement of native title appropriate for the Gumulgal. For example, Justice Drummond mentioned a 1886 report by a government official on Thursday Island that ‘there is no doubt that every acre has a reputed owner, that every grove or single tree of any value has its proper and legitimate hereditary owner’. In giving his judgment, Justice Drummond acknowledged that the court cannot confer title, but rather recognises what has long existed.

Managed by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)
AIATSIS acknowledges the funding support of the Native Title Branch of
the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C).