Country, Culture, People, Future

Southern Yamatji

Claim Background

The Southern Yamatji native title claim is the southernmost coastal claim in the Yamatji region. Its external boundaries enclose an area of approximately 27,837 square kilometres within the local government areas of the City of Greater Geraldton and the Shires of Carnamah, Chapman Valley, Coorow, Irwin, Mingenew, Morawa, Murchison, Northampton, Perenjori, Three Springs, and Yalgoo. This includes the towns of Carnamah, Dongara, Eneabba, Geraldton, Mingenew, Morawa, Mullewa, Nabawa, and Three Springs.

Due to the particularly high level of historical native title extinguishment surrounding Geraldton, Traditional Owners of this area have long sought to negotiate an alternative settlement of their claims. For this reason, YMAC refers to the area currently covered by the Southern Yamatji and Hutt River claims as the “Geraldton Settlement Area” (GSA).

The Southern Yamatji claim was formed as a result of recent efforts by Traditional Owners from different claims to resolve native title overlaps and engage with the State of Western Australia about alternative settlement. Through the course of 2016, the Mullewa Wadjari claim and the Widi Mob claim withdrew from the Amangu claim area, and the Amangu claim was amended to become the authorised Wilunyu claim. On 5 March 2017, the Wilunyu claim combined with the Naaguja claim to form the Southern Yamatji claim. On 3 April 2017, the combined Southern Yamatji claim was filed with the Federal Court of Australia.

The Southern Yamatji claim covers the combined areas of the former Wilunyu and Naaguja claims, and includes all Aboriginal people who assert a traditional connection to any part of this area. It includes most members of the former Amangu/Wilunyu claim, all members of the former Naaguja claim, most members of the Mullewa Wadjari claim, and all members of the Widi Mob claim.

The Southern Yamatji claim group has authorised an elected Working Group to provide YMAC with instructions on an ongoing basis. This Working Group has representatives of each of the eleven descendant groups that make up the Southern Yamatji claim.