Celebrating Vernon Islands handover

  • Aboriginal land has today been granted to the traditional owners of the Vernon Islands resolving the second oldest current land claim application in the Northern Territory.
  • The delivery of this land is part of the Coalition Government’s commitment to progress outstanding claims to ensure that traditional owners are recognised as the owners of their land and can start to use their land for their own benefit

Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion, has today recognised that the Vernon Islands are Aboriginal land by delivering a deed of grant to traditional owners at a ceremony on the Tiwi Islands.

Delivering the deed of grant to the Tiwi Aboriginal Land Trust, Minister Scullion today brought to a close the second oldest outstanding land claim application, recognising the enduring connection of the Mantiyupwi Tiwi people to the Vernon Islands.

“Today we mark an end of a long journey of recognition for the Vernon Islands land claim and celebrate a start of an exciting new chapter in the lives of the Mantiyupwi Tiwi people,” Minister Scullion said.

As part of a negotiated settlement between the Tiwi Land Council, the Tiwi Aboriginal Land Trust and the Northern Territory Government it was agreed to maintain public and commercial access to the intertidal area. The TLC has also entered an agreement with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to enable the ongoing operation and maintenance of navigation facilities on the islands.

“I congratulate all parties for negotiating these agreements and successfully balancing the cultural significance of the islands for the Mantiyupwi Tiwi people, with the public interest to maintain controlled access to the islands for economic and recreational purposes.”

“The Coalition Government recognises the importance of resolving outstanding land claims in the Northern Territory as soon as possible to recognise the traditional owners of the land and provide certainty and opportunity to all.

“That is why I provided an extra $1 million to the Aboriginal Land Commissioner to support the resolution of outstanding claims and I am pleased to see another claim resolved.”

The Minister also highlighted the important role the Tiwi Rangers will continue to play in conservation management of the Vernon Islands.

“The Tiwi Rangers are crucial for protecting the rich biodiversity of the islands. It is because of the work of Indigenous ranger groups such as the Tiwi Rangers that we continue to support the Working on Country program, providing $550 million in funding over 7 years to 2020.”

The grant of land was provided under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.