One Mile settlement singled out for help

One Mile issue raised in Parliament

THE First parliamentary sitting of the Palaszczuk government this week singled out helping an indigenous settlement at One Mile, near Dunwich, on North Stradbroke Island.

Queensland's first indigenous minister Leeanne Enoch, who is a Quandamooka woman, told Parliament Labor was committed to helping the island and would ensure a $20million pledge for Straddie was kept.

The election promise followed the establishment of a council, by a group of North Stradbroke Island indigenous residents, who want to retain a "sovereign position" at the settlement, one mile outside the township of Dunwich.

Spokesperson for the One Mile Sovereign Resident Council Dale Ruska said some residents wanted to "reclaim" ancestral lands to rectify housing needs and social issues at One Mile.

He said some residents opposed the 2011 Federal Court Native Title ruling, which handed back 98 per cent of Straddie and its waters to the Quandamooka people.

"Our right to reside on our land is not determined or acknowledged by Australian common law. It is entitled to us from ancient customary law," Mr Ruska said.

"The Original First Nations Aboriginals own One Mile and the rest of Stradbroke Island - not the federal or state governments.

"I don't believe Native Title has helped people at One Mile. We were expected to validate all past and future invalid acts committed by Australian governments against us and our land."

The indigenous settlement has no town water, sewers, or kerbing and guttering.

One Mile was a hot election issue in January when former Labor deputy leader Tim Mulherin mistakenly blamed Redland City Council for the lack of infrastructure.

Mayor Karen Williams set the record straight and said the area was part of the 2011 Indigenous Land Use Agreement the former ALP state government signed with the Quandamooka people.

She said One Mile was state government land and responsibility, and Redland ratepayers had never been expected to provide those services.

During the January campaign, Labor committed up to $20million over five years for the North Stradbroke Island Economic Transition Strategy and to support joint management of the island's national parks.

Cr Williams told Fairfax Media said some of the $20 million could be spent on water supply, bushfire and sanitation issues at One Mile, but also urged the government to tackle the "unallocated state land" issue at One Mile.

She said the Quandamooka people had asked for a festival, a "knowledge centre" at Cleveland's Toondah Harbour and a sea cucumber aquaculture industry for Moreton Bay.Mr Ruska said the One Mile council believed some of the economy from natural resource exploitation from the island should be used for infrastructure.

He said the state had consistently denied and blocked requests for services from One Mile residents.

Requests date back to the 1940s when the first residents moved to the area to be closer to work at the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum.

In 1952, the state government unsuccessfully tried to remove indigenous people from One Mile with a proposal to provide 96 allotments at Myora.

Under the Aboriginal Protection Act indigenous people were not allowed to live within one mile of Dunwich.

In 1960, the state used Aboriginal welfare funds, known as Stolen Wages, to build six homes in Dunwich, instead of the planned 96 at Myora.

Since then, the state has added another six Dunwich homes, which are occupied by many of the original tenants' families under tenancy agreements.

"My grandfather's wages were used to build the first lot of these houses and his family is still paying rent to the state government close to 50 years later and we still don't own the house," Mr Ruska said.

"We have asked the state government to accept and recognise our rights of residence to own these houses but to no avail.

"All governments have failed with their responsibility and obligations for the First Nations People. We haven't been consulted and we are entitled to be and we need to be taken seriously especially when planning is being considered for our place of residence."

Mr Ruska said the One Mile council believed the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples protected residents.