On Monday, 27 February 2023, Justice Mortimer of the Federal Court of Australia delivered her judgment in the Warral and Ului native title claim. Her Honour decided that:
‘the Badulgal and Mualgal hold joint native title in Warral and Ului, in the same way they hold joint native title over neighbouring islands like Dadalai, Zurath and Tuin and the other islands near them’.
Background to Judgement
- The Warral and Ului native title claim was lodged on behalf of the Badulgal People in 2002.
- In February 2015, representatives for Badulgal, Mualgal and Kaurareg people agreed in court-facilitated mediation that a joint native title claim should be made over Warral and Ului.
- In May 2019, representatives of Badulgal, Mualgal and Kaurareg people met again and agreed to begin steps to implement the agreement. This included the amendment of the native title claim to include Mualgal and Kaurareg people in the claim group.
- In June 2020 Justice Mortimer agreed to join five Badugal as respondents to the native title claim. The respondents opposed the amendment of the claim.
- Following unsuccessful mediation, Justice Mortimer ordered a trial, including on-country hearings.
- Justice Mortimer narrowed the issues for the trial down to two questions (see order and reasons of September 2020): who are the native title holders for Warral and Ului; and what are their native title rights and interests.