Native title in practice has come a long way since the introduction of the Native Title Act back in 1993. Many working in the native title sphere have seen the various ramifications that the legislation has had – we have gone from the acrimonious reaction of governments, the mining industry and the broader community to the environment we now find ourselves in of a more cooperative and collaborative relationship with those that we negotiate with.
Through the hard work and efforts of claimants, traditional owners and Native Title Representative Bodies and Service Providers, native title has become the impetus for realising the economic aspirations of traditional owners for their families as well as achieving the economic and political empowerment of communities across the country.
It is now time to ensure that native title is used for economic wealth sharing and participation. This paper will argue that it is time for our collective leadership to become more aggressive about the aspirations of traditional owners for greater economic and political participation across Australia. It is time to address the need for strategic leadership to take us forward, and most critically, we need to encourage our young people to take up the native title mantle into the future.