Yorta Yorta v Victoria

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Yorta Yorta v Victoria was a native title claim by the Yorta Yorta indigenous people of north central Victoria, Australia which was dismissed by Justice Olney of the Federal Court of Australia in 1998. Appeals to the Full Bench of the Federal Court of Australia in 2001 and the High Court of Australia in 2002 were also dismissed.

The determination by Justice Olney in 1998 ruled that the ‘tide of history’ had ‘washed away’ any real acknowledgement of traditional laws and any real observance of traditional customs by the applicants.[1]

An appeal was made to the full bench of the Federal Court on the grounds that "the trial judge erroneously adopted a ‘frozen in time’ approach" and "failed to give sufficient recognition to the capacity of traditional laws and customs to adapt to changed circumstances". The Appeal was dismissed in a majority 2 to 1 decision.[2]

The case was taken on appeal to the High Court of Australia but also dismissed in a 5 to 2 majority ruling in December 2002.[3][4]

In consequence of the failed native title claim, in May 2004 the Victorian Government led by Premier Steve Bracks signed an historic co-operative management agreement with the Yorta Yorta people covering public land, rivers and lakes in north-central Victoria. The agreement gives the Yorta Yorta people a say in the management of traditional country including the Barmah State Park, Barmah State Forest, Kow Swamp and public land along the Murray and Goulburn rivers. Ultimate decision making responsibility was retained by the Environment Minister[5]


  1. ^ Federal Court of Australia, Members of the Yorta Yorta Aboriginal Community v Victoria & Ors, [1998] FCA 1606 (18 December 1998). Accessed 11 September 2011
  2. ^ Federal Court of Australia, Members of the Yorta Yorta Aboriginal Community v Stateof Victoria (Including Corrigendum dated 21 March 2001), [2001] FCA 45 (8 February 2001) Accessed 11 September 2011
  3. ^ High Court of Australia, Members of the Yorta Yorta Aboriginal Community v Victoria, HCA 58; 214 CLR 422; 194 ALR 538; 77 ALJR 356 (12 December 2002). Accessed 11 September 2011
  4. ^ The World Today, Reporter: Louise Yaxley, Yorta Yorta lose native title case, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 12 December 2002. Accessed 11 September 2011
  5. ^ Fergus Shiel, Yorta Yorta win historic deal, The Age, 1 May 2004. Accessed 11 September 2011