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The Fitzroy River Declaration: Indigenous led catchment management and making native title count

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Publication date
2018 National Native Title Conference
Dr Bill Kruse

In 2016 in Fitzroy Crossing representatives from seven native title groups met to discuss concerns around the cumulative impacts of development along the Fitzroy River.

The meeting concluded with the Fitzroy River Declaration: a historic statement by native title holders pledging to work together to protect and manage the Fitzroy River. The declaration resulted in the Government of Western Australia committing to a catchment management plan for the Fitzroy River and a national park over parts of the Fitzroy and Margaret Rivers.

The Fitzroy River Declaration was a major turning point highlighting that native title holders should be at the forefront of catchment management and regional development planning and they would not be divided in relation to their traditional values underpinning land and water management.

Today the Fitzroy River Declaration is at the heart of negotiations between Traditional Owners, government and other stakeholders. However, it still remains unclear how hard fought native title rights will be recognised and made meaningful in a catchment management plan and in the joint management of the proposed national park.

This panel will include PBC and KLC representatives with discussion focusing on the issues leading to the declaration and the challenges still facing traditional owners.