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De Rose Hill marks native title first for SA

A South Australian Indigenous group has successfully proved its continuous spiritual and physical connection to a far north-west pastoral lease today after the Federal Court made its first finding of native title in the state's history.

National Native Title Tribunal Deputy President Chris Sumner said the finding on the De Rose Hill pastoral station marked a seminal point in South Australia's native title progress and would help speed up the resolution of claims in other parts of the state.
'Parties can now negotiate with greater certainty about other South Australian claims,' he said.
'The Tribunal's preference is to resolve disputes over land and waters through mediation - where Indigenous people, industry and governments can talk about the claims and work out a negotiated result.'
The Full Federal Court made the judgment after calling for extra submissions on the issue of connection, following a 2002 decision by Justice O'Loughlin which said the claimants had lost their continuous link to the area.

The Court's decision today found the lead claimant, Peter de Rose, had passed through ceremonial Western Desert law and was bound by the rules of the country. His evidence showed he, and others who regarded themselves Nguraritja (traditional custodians or owners), had non-exclusive native title rights over the area.

The judgment showed native title was extinguished where there were improvements built in accordance with the pastoral leases. These things include houses, sheds, airstrips and constructed dams.

The Yankunytjatjara people first lodged their claim in 1994 and took part in 69 days of hearing including 27 days on country hearings, including site visits to Inyata, Kantja, De Rose Homestead, Wipa and Papa Itari. The claim covers about 1865 square kilometres of land adjacent to the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal freehold lands just 40 kilometres south of the Northern Territory border.

South Australian native title claimants and other parties - including the state government, resources industry, pastoral industry, local government and fishing industry - are engaged in a plan to establish broad sectoral agreements in the form of indigenous land use agreements (ILUAs).
'The De Rose Hill decision will help to ensure that where appropriate native title can also be determined in conjunction with the ILUA process,' Mr Sumner said.
 Background information.

Charlie Wilson-Clark
08 9268 7315