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Residents who live in dugouts in the outback community of White Cliffs will be granted permanent leases, following an agreement between the NSW Government and Barkandji people who are native title holders over the land.

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said the Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) was a significant outcome for the small opal mining community, located 255 km northeast of Broken Hill.

“Many residents of White Cliffs live in underground dugouts that provide shelter from heat,” Mrs Pavey said.

“This agreement is a ‘win-win’ that provides permanent security for White Cliffs dugout residents, and due recognition of the Barkandji Aboriginal community and their traditional and enduring links to the land.”

The Federal Court endorsed a native title claim over the White Cliffs area by the Barkandji Registered Native Title Body Corporation in 2015.

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Crown Lands and the Barkandji Registered Native Title Body Corporation have negotiated an agreement for permanent Crown land leases, to be provided to residents of the White Cliffs dugouts.

The agreement will also allow for ongoing licences to be granted for other land use purposes, including grazing across the broader Barkandji area.

Barkandji Registered Native Title Body Corporation CEO Derek Hardman said the agreement is another example of Barkandji working side by side with Crown Lands to achieve outcomes for community.

“White Cliffs is part of our song line and is such a significant site for our people,” Mr Hardman said.

“I’m glad we could reach an outcome that recognises native title and also gives security over the homes of the White Cliffs residents.”