‘No longer on the bottom rung of society’
“We are no longer on the bottom rung of society.”
That is view of the Butchulla community following yesterday’s ruling that they are the cultural and traditional owners of some 100,000 hectares of land on the Fraser Coast.
Gemma Cronin was the lead applicant in the more than a decade-long process, culminating in a Federal Court ruling in a makeshift courtroom at Dayman Park in Urangan.
Ms Cronin said the judgment was a celebration of Butchulla culture and the beginning of their own sovereignty.
“The land in question has always been Butchulla land. It always has been and now always will be,” she said.
“It is a big, big thing for us. It means we finally have self-determination as a community.”
Ms Cronin said the Butchulla people had become key stakeholders in the area.
She said self-governance was now a possibility.
“I am so happy that I get to experience this in my lifetime,” she said.
Ms Cronin described the Native Title determination as being a major boost for preserving Butchulla culture.
She said the community’s children would benefit for the rest of their lives.
When asked about their plans, Ms Cronin said there was still a lot that needed to be done.
“We are only at the beginning,” she said.
“The return of our land means we can begin to think about business opportunities and housing.”