Historic WA bill recognises Noongar people


A bill recognising the Noongar people as the traditional owners of Western Australia's southwest, including Perth, has been introduced to state parliament.

Premier Colin Barnett says the Recognition Bill 2015 will not create new rights or change any laws, but is another step towards reconciliation.

The bill is part of the South West Native Title Settlement signed in June, which extinguishes all native title claims over a 200,000sq km area in exchange for $1.3 billion in land and other benefits.

Mr Barnett said it was Australia's largest ever native title settlement.

Noongar elder Elizabeth Hayden said generations of Aboriginal people had worked hard to achieve recognition.

"My heart is weeping with joy," she told reporters on Wednesday.

"We live with hope because we've been knocked from pillar to post for generations.

"We've always lived in hope that we would get to a point of being acknowledged as the first people of this nation."

Ms Hayden said it was impossible to fix the past.

"The past is past, but we need to move forward to a better future," she said.

South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council deputy chairman Michael Hayden said he hoped to see young people get involved in the native title process.

"Look at the hardship that our elders have felt, understand their stories and struggles, fill your hearts with pride and strength in the culture, the survival, and embrace the community feeling amongst the Noongar people," he said.

"We have survived so much that has been thrown at us and today we finally get the opportunity through the recognition bill of knowing our place."