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The situation for Aboriginal people and land rights in the Kimberley is a case study on the contradictory nature of Indigenous policy in Australia. The most vulnerable Australians have to fight – sometimes for decades – to be formally recognized under law as traditional landowners; only to come up against a wall of red tape, or in some cases outright discrimination, preventing the full utilization of their land rights. Today Aboriginal people in the Kimberley region are calling for a full and fair realization of their Native Title rights, to enable them to care for their country, to practice their culture and secure their future.
This paper highlights four examples of how the Western Australian government is actively undermining the rights of Aboriginal landowners in the Kimberley. From threatening to force communities off hard-won homelands, to denying Aboriginal people the right to make decisions about their sacred sites and cultural heritage; from conservation projects that go against human rights principles and demand landowners surrender their Native Title rights, to actively campaigning against proven and popular traditional land management programmes that create jobs and help tackle climate change.
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This briefing note is part of the initiative Land Rights Now: The Global Call to Action on Indigenous and Community Land Rights.