Native Title & History

Yawuru people have occupied and managed the lands and seas in and around Broome since the Bugarrigarra (the time before time).  In 2006 the Federal Court determined that the Yawuru people are the native title holders of approximately 530,000 hectares of traditional Yawuru country.

The recognition of Yawuru’s Native Title was a significant event and a major milestone for the Yawuru community. It was also a significant moment in Native Title for Australia and Yawuru continues to be seen as a leading native title organisation with strong governance and strategic direction.

The Federal Court judgement recognised that the “source of the Yawuru community’s traditional laws and customs … is the Bugarrigarra”. The court considered evidence about Yawuru traditional laws and customs relating to rai, the Yawuru language, the skin section system, kinship, malinyanu laws and customs, traditional stories, bush names, hunting, bush foods, looking after Country, speaking for Country, increase sites and permission requirements. The Court said that “when considered cumulatively, the evidence in relation to those matters demonstrated that the present Yawuru community still acknowledges and observes the traditional laws and customs which, since sovereignty, have constituted the normative system under which the native title rights and interests in issue are being claimed.” (Rubibi Community v State of Western Australia (No 6) [2006] FCA 82 – Case Summary).

You can read the determination here.

Following the Yawuru native title determinations, Yawuru negotiated the Yawuru Agreements with the Western Australian Government. The Yawuru Agreements include two Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) – The Yawuru Area Agreement and the Yawuru Prescribed Body Corporate Agreement, registered by the National Native Title Tribunal on 6 August 2010. The signatories to the Agreements are the State of Western Australia, the Shire of Broome and the Yawuru Native Title Holders Aboriginal Corporation.

These Agreement provides an opportunity for Yawuru to influence the values-driven development of Broome, where Yawuru have opportunities and can continue to safeguard Yawuru culture, way of life and strengthen our identity. The Yawuru Agreements also established conservation areas (link to page in Country section where these are mentioned) and a jointly managed Nagulagun Roebuck Bay Marine Park. The Agreement package included land for future developments by Yawuru, and some financial benefits to facilitate the Yawuru Corporation and community development programs.

Want to know more?

Visit us at Nyamba Buru Yawuru or contact the office on 08  9192 9600