THE Dunghutti Elders Council (DEC) is investigating the possibility of a ‘blanket land claim’ over all traditional Dunghutti tribal land.
The Dunghutti tribal area extends from the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park at the head of the Macleay River, north to the Nambucca River and south as far as Walcha.
A meeting to inform the local community about the potential land claim was held at the DEC headquarters in South Kempsey on Friday.
The DEC won a landmark native title claim over a 12.4ha parcel of land at Crescent Head in 1997.
They ultimately received $6.1 million in compensation for the land from the NSW government in 2010.
The DEC was placed in special administration by the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations in September 2011 and the directors removed from their positions over concerns the group’s finances were not being appropriately managed.
A new board was appointed and the special administration period lifted in March 2012.
Representatives of the Native Title office attended the meeting to advise the group on how to proceed with a claim.
The claim would potentially be for all vacant crown land in the tribal area.
DEC chairn Bob Mumbler said the plan was at a very early stage.
“Basically we had to look at what we could do which was best for all the Dunghutti people,” Mr Mumbler said.
“We are just looking at the possibility and that is all at the moment, it is a long process, potentially taking years, and could be expensive.
“What we are not going to do is put our financial position here at the DEC in jeopardy spending money on the claim.
“We are looking at how much vacant crown land is in our tribal area that would be able to be claimed, and of course there is genealogy work to be done to establish a claimant that has direct connections to the land.
“As I said it is just at the early stages at the moment and that is about all there is to tell you.”
Fellow board member Heather Ritchie said unity among the Dunghutti people was vital for the DEC and the wider Aboriginal community to move forward.
“It is really important that all the Dunghutti people move forward as one on this,” she said.
“We will be following all the proper procedures and we won’t be doing anything if it puts the DEC at risk, this is just the first step to see where it goes.”
Mr Mumbler confirmed that previous legal representatives of the DEC were not involved in the current potential land claim.