Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

20th anniversary of Nitmiluk National Park hand-back

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, today joined the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the handing-back of Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge) in the Northern Territory to its traditional owners, the Jawoyn people.

Twenty years ago to the day, an historic agreement was reached between the Jawoyn and the Northern Territory Government to hand back Nitmiluk National Park to the traditional owners under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act.

At the same time, a 99 year lease was signed between the Jawoyn Land Trust and the Northern Territory Conservation Land Corporation to ensure Nitmiluk remained a National Park. The Jawoyn continue to have a key role in the management of the park.

The return of Nitmiluk to the Jawoyn was a landmark event which transformed long-entrenched views of land ownership, held by many non-Aboriginal Australians.

Today we applaud and celebrate the vision and courage of the Jawoyn people and their leaders who campaigned to claim back their land and then committed to sharing it with all Australians.
I acknowledge the contribution of Mr Jatbula, Mr Baruwei, Mrs Winyjorrotj, Mrs Flora, Mr Brown, Mr Lee and Ms Lisa Mumbin.

Over the past two decades, the Jawoyn Association Aboriginal Corporation has continued to make a significant contribution to building an independent future for local people.

Its 20 years of strong governance was recognised recently by the Registrar of the Office of Indigenous Corporations when it was named as one of the leading Aboriginal corporations in the country.

The Corporation generates more the $1.5 million in income and holds over $3 million in assets.

It has built a strong and sustained economic base providing jobs, services and support throughout the Katherine region.

The Jawoyn people have shown all of us how a group of determined, motivated, passionate and hard-working people can succeed in shaping their future in 21st century Australia while retaining their commitment to keeping Jawoyn traditions vibrantly alive and relevant.

During the celebrations, eight of ten new tourist accommodation chalets built by Nitmiluk Tours at the Nitmiluk campgrounds were officially opened.

The chalets are further testament to the Jawoyn community’s ongoing commitment to enhancing the National Park and providing employment opportunities to the people of this region