Traditional Owners and Native Title holders
The Federal Court of Australia has made Native Title determinations over the entire Beetaloo Exploration Project area. The Federal Court determinations set out the Native Title holders, decision makers and the decision-making process for those areas in accordance with the Native Title Act 1993. Native Title holders are those people referred to in the Federal Court determinations who have both the legal and traditional rights to make decisions for those areas. This is distinct from Traditional Owners, who may have decision making authority under traditional law to their respective country, but not with regards to the project area.
You can learn more about the practices for engagement with the Native Title holders where Origin is undertaking exploration work, how exploration has been guided by the principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and how sacred sites are respected and protected here.
Engaging with Native Title Owners
Since becoming the operator for the Beetaloo exploration permits in 2014, we have worked constructively, transparently and in good faith with those who share access rights to the land, the host Traditional Owners who are the Native Title holders where we are working.
The exploration agreements we hold require ongoing consultation and engagement. The process we follow to maintain support is site specific and activity based. This includes sharing annual work programs in advance and taking part in on-country meetings with the Northern Land Council and the Native Title holders.
Our work program plans are given to the NLC up to a year in advance, allowing time to engage with the Native Title holders and claimants. It also allows time for important activities like sacred site avoidance and clearance surveys to be completed and certified by law.
Each year we work with the NLC and the Native Title holders to complete sacred site clearance and avoidance surveys and participate in on-county meetings. All exploration and activity to date has been certified by the Aboriginal Areas Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA).
The current agreements are for exploration activity. A new agreement would need to be negotiated if the project progressed to production.
Native Title and the Northern Land Council
The Northern Land Council (NLC) is one of four statutory representative bodies in the Northern Territory that helps Aboriginal people with Native Title claims heard and determined by the Federal Court. The NLC undertakes detailed ethnography and anthropological work to support Native Title claimants’ applications.
Native Title doesn’t necessarily align or fit neatly against exploration permit areas. Where there are multiple Native Title determinations and claims within our permit areas the NLC advises us who we need to consult with in relation to our work programs.
Where there are multiple families within a Native Title area, the NLC advises us which family or estate groups speak for the specific country where we are working.
The NLC arranges and facilitates our on-country meetings. You can learn more about the role of the NLC here.