South Australia’s biggest native title determination was made in the Flinders Ranges today when Justice Mansfield recognised the rights and interests of the Adnyamathanha People to 41,085sq km of land in and around the ranges.
The consent determination resolved a claim over the 918sq km Flinders Ranges National Park and partially resolved another claim which included the 367sq km Angepena pastoral lease. Generally, the determinations give the Adnyamathanha People non-exclusive rights over most of the land, providing them with access for ceremonial or cultural activities, hunting and camping.
The SA Government and the Adnyamathanha People are now finalising an indigenous land use agreement (ILUA) for the co-management of the Flinders Ranges National Park. This will be similar to their Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park agreement, registered in 2006.
Today’s hearing at Nepabunna was attended by Adnyamathanha People and representatives from the other parties, including the SA Government, SA Native Title Services (SANTS, the native title representative body for SA), the pastoral and mining industries, and the claim mediator, the National Native Title Tribunal.
Tribunal Deputy President Chris Sumner said today’s outcome was the result of many years careful negotiation and perseverance by all the parties, including the resolution by mediation of some overlapping native title claims.
“The resolution of these applications results in the formal recognition of the Adnyamathanha People’s ancient ties to the land,” Mr Sumner said.
“All the parties involved in the process leading to today’s outcome are to be congratulated for their willingness to work together to achieve a fair result. In particular, the negotiators for the Adnyamathanha claimants have worked tirelessly to achieve this result.
“The relationships formed throughout the negotiations provide a solid basis for their future together, sharing the care and management of these lands.”
Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association chairperson Vincent Coulthard said the determination was the best thing that had happened to the Adnyamathanha People for 200 years.
“This is the largest native title claim to be determined in South Australia and to have achieved that without litigation is a real positive for us all,” Mr Coulthard said.
This is the fourth determination in South Australia, following the contested determination of De Rose Hill in 2005 and the consent determinations of Yankunytjatjara/Antakirinja in 2006 and Witjira National Park in 2008.
“This determination is an example of what can be achieved when all agencies involved in the native title process – especially the Federal Court, the Tribunal, SANTS, the SA Government and legal and anthropological advisors – work together in a cooperative way, which is a feature of native title negotiations in South Australia,” Mr Sumner said.
More determinations are expected to be made by consent in the next few years, Mr Sumner said: “All parties agree that this is preferable to costly and lengthy litigation in the court.”