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Porumalgal (Torres Strait Islanders) Corporation

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Overview

The Porumalgal (Torres Strait Islanders) Corporation, located on Poruma Island, administers land on behalf of the Poruma people. The Poruma people’s ownership of Poruma, Uttu and Yarpar Islands in the Torres Strait was recognised in two native title determinations: the Porumalgal Poruma People determination and the Yarpar & Uttu determination. The claim leading to the Porumalgal Poruma People was made over Poruma (Coconut) Island in 1996. It was negotiated between the parties over four years. All parties agreed to recognise the Poruma people’s right to non-exclusive possession, occupation and use of the land.

The Federal Court affirmed this agreement in the Porumalgal Poruma People determination in July 2000. This determination was delivered in conjunction with the Warraber People determination because both groups are closely connected by ‘ties of kinship and common language’ and have traditionally had connections with each other’s land. The second determination administered by the Porumalgal (Torres Strait Islanders) Corporation, Yarpar & Uttu, was made in 2001 on behalf of the Poruma people. This claim was also successfully negotiated by all 22 parties over four years. All parties agreed to recognised the Poruma people’s right to:

Exclusive possession, occupation and use of the land, and

Non-exclusive right to use the water and things within it for personal, domestic and non-commercial communal needs.

The Federal Court approved this agreement in August 2005. Justice Drummond noted that the court does not grant native title to the Poruma People, but rather 'recognises what they have long held.' In addition to the Porumalgal Poruma People determination and the Yarpar & Uttu determination, the Porumalgal (Torres Strait Islanders) Corporation also administers two Indigenous Land Use Agreements between the Poruma people, Ergon Energy and Telstra, respectively.

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).