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Yilka Native Title claim a long time coming

Harvey Murray in his well-worn jacket.

The year he started a 24-year legal bid on behalf of the Yilka people for Native Title over their traditional lands, Harvey Murray brought a new jacket.

When his goal was finally realised, Mr Murray donned the same jacket to clearly show the passing of time.

The Yilka and Sullivan Edwards people were recently granted joint Native Title over more than 12,000 square kilometres of land north-east of Laverton in Western Australia, including the Cosmo Newberry community.

Federal Court judge Justice Neil McKerracher officially presented them with the Native Title certification at a ceremony at a remote waterhole, Yilurn, in the Western Desert.

Mr Murray said it was fitting the determination was held at the site, where granite rocks have been worn smooth over the years from thousands of children sliding down them.

He said Native Title would mean the communities could “go forward together and benefit all the little children again”.

Mervyn Sullivan, spokesman for the Sullivan Edwards Native Title holders, said they looked forward to setting up a strong corporation for future generations.

Central Desert Native Title Services chief executive officer Ian Rawlings said the claim had succeeded despite the WA government bringing an abuse-of-process argument to the court.

A scene from the Native Title ceremony held at Yilurn in the Western Desert.

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