Department of State Development

03 Oct 2014 Aboriginal affairs

Native Title granted over section of Simpson Desert

The State Government today welcomed the Federal Court’s decision to recognise the native title rights of the Wangkangurru/Yarluyandi people over a large area that includes the Simpson Desert in the far north of South Australia, extending into Queensland.

The State Government and the Wangkangurru/Yarluyandi people also signed two significant agreements - a Settlement Indigenous Land Use Agreement and Parks Indigenous Land Use Agreement - that recognise the rights of the traditional owners over land, including parks within the South Australian part of the claim area.

At a special hearing in Birdsville today the Federal Court, with the agreement of all parties, made orders over the 60,600 square kilometre area, which includes the Simpson Desert Conservation Park and the Simpson Desert Regional Reserve.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ian Hunter said it was a historic day for the Wangkangurru/Yarluyandi people.

“Today’s decision is an acknowledgement of an important part of our nation’s history.

“The native title determination recognises that the Wangkangurru/Yarluyandi people have had an ongoing connection with this land, which has been their spiritual and physical home long before European settlement in Australia. Important customs and knowledge in relation to the land have been passed down through generations and are retained by people today.

“They also resolve compensation for the past extinguishment of native title,” Mr Hunter said.

The Simpson Desert is an area rich in Aboriginal history, consisting of sand dunes that stretch over hundreds of kilometres. The Simpson Desert Regional Reserve features a wide variety of desert wildlife, extensive playa lakes, spinifex grasslands and acacia woodlands.

Six Pastoral Indigenous Land Use Agreements will also be entered into, which agree how the native title holders and the pastoralists will exercise their respective rights, while respecting the rights and interests of each other.

Mr Hunter said the Court hearing to finalise this native title claim is also a significant step for South Australia being the 22nd native title claim to be settled by agreement rather than litigation.

“It is the tenth South Australian claim to be comprehensively resolved, meaning all other issues, including compensation, will be finally settled at the same time that native title is recognised.

“By working together in this way, we have taken real steps towards reconciliation and strengthened mutual respect and understanding. It is a great outcome that will preserve and enhance the natural environment, while at the same time recognise and protect areas of cultural significance,” Mr Hunter said.