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Arabana native title claim resolved in South Australia


Native title rights for the Arabana People in South Australia have today been recognised with a Federal Court hearing, which was delivered on country at Finniss Springs Station, located south of the Oodnadatta Track, around 50km west of Maree.

Justice Finn made a consent determination over the claim for the Arabana People, to recognise their non-exclusive native title rights and interests over an area located central north of South Australia, covering approximately 68, 823 square kilometres.

The claimed area includes two significant geographical features of South Australia, namely, Lake Eyre and the Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park.

Lake Eyre is a popular tourist destination, including for overseas visitors, and is the lowest point in Australia at approximately 15 metres below sea level. The Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park is well known for its natural springs that rise from the Great Artesian Basin.

The Arabana claim has been the subject of extensive mediation by the National Native Title Tribunal, who has facilitated the claim settlement negotiations since June 2010.   Prior to that the Tribunal also conducted overlap mediations over a number of years between the Arabana and neighbouring claim groups including the Adnyamathanha, Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara, Kokatha and Barngarla groups.

A number of significant agreements have also been reached by negotiation as a result of the settlement of this claim, including:

  • an Indigenous Land Use Agreement for a long term lease be granted to the Arabana Aboriginal Corporation over Finniss Springs. Funding has been allocated to enable important restoration and conservation works at the site.
  • a National Parks Indigenous Land Use Agreement and Co-management Agreement which provide for the rights of the Arabana People recognised today to be exercised in a way that is consistent with and enhances the management of the Parks in the region.  As National Parks are under the State's reserve system, this agreement provides for the input of the Arabana People into the management of the Parks.

The finalisation of all of these agreements together represents a significant milestone in the often difficult process of reconciling different land uses in this area.

Tribunal Member Dan O’Dea said that the claim group have been negotiating with the South Australian Government to reach a beneficial agreement for all involved.

“The parties are to be congratulated for their willingness to work together co-operatively to resolve native title by agreement,” said Mr O’Dea.

“While it has been a lengthy negotiation, the agreement-making process establishes positive relationships into the future. This is the best approach to settling native title.”

The consent determination finalises the Arabana People’s claim that was originally lodged in 1998 and recognises the non-exclusive native title rights to access, hunt, fish, camp, gather and use the natural resources within the relevant area. In addition, these rights also recognise the claimant’s ability to undertake cultural activities, conduct ceremonies and meetings and protect places of cultural and religious significance.

Media contact
Petra Vanessie
08 9425 1075