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Native title was not recognised in Australia until 1992 when the High Court in the Mabo decision overturned the doctrine of terra nullius. This led to the legislation of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) and the establishment of the National Native Title Tribunal. Now Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders had the right to make native title claims but this was a very expensive, slow and time-consuming process making it ineffective for Indigenous people to regain ownership of their traditional land. The Native Title Amendment Act 1998 (Cth) also restricted the rights of Indigenous Australians. Since 1993, there have been 180 registered determinations of native title covering approximately 15 per cent of Australia’s land mass. Of those, 139 recognise the status of native title. An example of this is the Lovett (on behalf of the Gunditjmara People) v State of Victoria (2007) case which granted the Gunditjmara people native title ownership of over 4000 hectares of Crown land on the coast of Victoria and Deen Maar Island. Additionally, the National Native Title Tribunal shows the effectiveness of the government in attempting to aid the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth). It was established to mediate native title claims under the direction of the Federal Court of Australia and resolve native title issues. The National Native Title Tribunal can also act as an arbitrator and help negotiate land use agreements. However, the process of claiming native title is relatively slow. The Yorta Yorta people made two appeals to the Federal Court but their appeal was dismissed. Their third appeal to the High Court was successful but after 8 years of court cases the Yorta Yorta people were denied native title due to insufficient evidence of recent history of traditional ownership of the land. This was a problem faced by many other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. As well as that the High Court had ruled that the Yorta Yorta were required to pay for the legal costs of the...
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