Central Highlands Regional Council

Aug 6, 2022

Marrawah Law represents Central Highlands Regional Council (“CHRC”) in seven (7) active native title claims including the Western Kangoulu claim and has also successfully represented CHRC in a number of now determined native title claims.

Key Issues and Challenges

As part of this project we were approached to negotiate a separate Aboriginal cultural heritage compliance agreement with the Western Kangoulu People for a large flood mitigation protection project aimed at reducing the impact of flooding on the residents of the Emerald township.

Approach we took:

Following the 2016 floods pressure was mounting on CHRC to take action and put in place mechanisms to manage the flood and excess water flow on the Nogoa River and consequently mitigate its impact on the township of Emerald and surrounding areas. Actions it wanted to undertake included flood modelling, clearing sections of land and excavating to install levee’s, and lobbying the state government to raise the Vince Lester Bridge and rail bridge and remove old timber structures. All these proposed activities were aimed at significantly reducing the impact of increased flow in the river and reduce the number of properties affected by flooding.

As Marrawah Law was representing CHRC in native title matters, and had strong established relationships with relevant Aboriginal parties, we were approached to negotiate a separate Aboriginal cultural heritage compliance agreement with the Western Kangoulu People to clear the way for a number of the above activities to take place.

Despite sensitivities relating to the protection of cultural heritage in the project area and intra-indigenous disputes, the relationship we had with all parties at the negotiating table ensured we were able to move past hurdles as they arose in a culturally sensitive manner to see a positive outcome for all concerned.

Outcomes and benefits for client / achievements:

The cultural heritage compliance agreement was negotiated and concluded against a tight funding timeframe and despite intra-indigenous tension between the groups involved. As such, Council met its statutory duty of care under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 (Qld) within the time frame necessary to secure funding and to proceed with an important community infrastructure project.

Marrawah Law was able to achieve these strong outcomes in short timeframes because of the solid and trusting relationships we have been able to build with all parties involved in the negotiations over many years. Although the negotiations between CHRC and the Aboriginal parties were difficult as they involved compromises on all fronts – Marrawah Law was able to find the middle ground that satisfied all legal, social and environmental requirements and enabled Council to move forward with this important project.

Innovation / innovative thinking:

Local government interests continue to be represented in the Western Kangoulu claim to ensure these are protected, Council receives assistance with various issues that arise during the claim proceedings and is kept informed about and provides instructions regarding the claim proceedings. We also provide ongoing compliance assistance to Council as required.

If you have a Native Title enquiry or would like to find out more information about our Indigenous legal services, then please give us a call on (07) 4041 3088 for a no obligation discussion. ☎️