Traditional owners of a reserve in central Western Australia will explore political options to secure land entitlements after a disused oil tenure thwarted their legal battle.
Last week, the traditional owners of the Gibson Desert Nature Reserve withdrew their compensation claim against the state government over the extinguishment of their native title rights.
It followed a Federal Court judgment by Justice Michael Barker in July that found petroleum tenure granted in the 1920s was valid.
Central Desert Native Title Services spokeswoman Jo Lanagan says the group are now exploring their political options, and had already talked to Opposition Aboriginal Affairs spokesman Ben Wyatt.
She said they also hoped to liaise with relevant state government ministers to reach a resolution.
“It’s not about money, it’s about having control of their land,” Ms Lanagan told AAP on Wednesday.
“They live there, they look after it. They want the formal recognition.”
The Federal Court decision was another blow for traditional owners, who almost had a new form of title recognised under the proposed Indigenous Conservation Title.
That passed through both houses of parliament but was set aside due to the 2005 state election.
The bill then lapsed under the Barnett government.
Ms Lanagan said the group had struggled to comprehend how a disused oil license could diminish their rights.
She said it had been difficult for traditional owners to show Justice Barker their connection to their country through stories, ceremonies, dances and paintings.
“There’s a shame factor,” she said.
“Women told their traditional female stories to a male judge.”