3 Dec 2013

Native title recognised on NSW coast

8:29 am on 3 December 2013

The Federal Court in Australia has recognised native title rights for the Bandjalang people over land along the north coast of New South Wales.

Federal Court judge Justice Jane Jagot made the ruling at a special hearing at Evans Head on Monday.

AAP reports it is 17 years since the Bandjalang people asked the courts to recognise their right to hunt, fish, camp and protect cultural sites in the area.

Solicitor Tori Edwards said the decision extends over 2750 square kilometres from the north of Grafton to Casino, and to Evans Head on the coast.

The land includes national parks, state forests, and Crown land.

"It's full legal recognition of the rights and interests that they've always had," she told AAP on Monday.

"It's a very important symbolic day for them and the end of 17 years of hard work.

"But it's also the beginning of opportunities for them to deal with the state of NSW and with other parties ... to negotiate what's called an indigenous land use agreement next year."

The agreement would give traditional owners input on how the country is managed, which could include a say in future major developments or mines.