Aboriginal Lands report

Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee: Report 2017-18

Mr ELLIS (Narungga) (11:02): I move:

That the 2017-18 annual report of the committee be noted.

Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (11:28): I rise not as a member of the committee but as a member of this place who has Aboriginal communities within my electorate of Flinders. I follow the doings and the undertakings of the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee very closely, and I compliment them on their work and on the report tabled in the parliament today. Members have spoken with great passion about the work they do on that committee.

I would like to acknowledge the Hon. John Dawkins MLC from the other place, who has taken on the chairmanship of this particular committee, for his work, as well other committee members, three of whom have spoken in this place this morning already, including the member for Giles, who has the APY lands sitting within his electorate. Often when we talk about the APY lands in here we talk about what a beautiful landscape and what a magnificent part of our state it is, and how we should take the time to visit. I have not yet had the opportunity to visit the APY lands, but I am looking forward to having that opportunity and making that visit sometime in the near future. I am not sure whether I am able to muscle in on an Aboriginal lands committee visit to the APY lands, but I know the plan is to visit soon, hopefully in the new year. It would be very nice to be part of that tour if possible.

As has been mentioned, there have been significant changes to this committee, as there have been to all committees in this place following the election. It is a tripartisan committee that undertakes its duties very diligently. In the midst of all these changes, the committee still met and, despite limitations placed on travel for this reporting period (the 2017-18 reporting year), the committee saw this as an opportunity to attend to a number of outstanding matters from the APY lands trip in the previous reporting period in June 2017.

From this trip, the committee called a number of witnesses who provided much-needed attention to areas such as police presence in remote areas, funeral services and coronial services to remote areas, access to dialysis services on country, and a better understanding of the issues faced by community members in the Community Development Program (otherwise known as ‘work for the dole’) across the APY lands.

In October 2017, the committee commenced its review into the operation of the Aboriginal Lands Trust Act 2013, as per its requirements under section 68 of the same act. This review remains ongoing and we look forward to hearing from more community leaders and members in the coming year. I sat in on a couple of the presentations to the current committee. There was a delegation from Yalata, which included CEO, Desley Culpin; Pastor Russell Bryant, who is Chair of Yalata Community Inc.; and of course the ubiquitous Mima Smart, who is known to everybody and has strongly advocated for the Yalata community over the years. I met with them and the Premier during their visit to Parliament House, so that was quite a thrill for them, for me and, I am sure, for the Premier.

The committee has a statutory obligation to review the operation of three pieces of legislation, all of which have administrative bodies and authorities that manage the day-to-day operation of their acts. The committee discharges this function in part by visiting Aboriginal lands and communities, and by maintaining strong relationships with the Aboriginal landholding statutory authorities by inviting representatives from those statutory authorities to appear before the committee to give evidence.

As I have already mentioned, a review of the Aboriginal Lands Trust Act is underway. There are many diverse views, and I picked up on that when I sat in on one day of presentations. It will be interesting to see the outcome of that particular review. The committee continues to be accessible to Aboriginal statutory landholding authorities and will continue to visit Aboriginal communities with links to these statutory authorities throughout the state. I look forward to welcoming the committee to the Far West of the state, and to Yalata in particular. There are other Aboriginal communities and homelands in the state’s west as well.

I understand there was an attempt to visit Oak Valley and Yalata, which are both homes to the Anangu people, who are in fact displaced desert people. The Anangu were displaced after the British bombed Maralinga in the early 1950s. The local Aboriginal population, who were part of the Pitjantjatjara mob, were initially relocated to Yalata in 1952. All probably felt the urge to return home, and some managed to make a new home further north at Oak Valley, which was closer to their lands, some time later. The intention was to visit that part of the state; however, only a few weeks prior to that visit, the committee was informed that cultural business was occurring and that it would not be appropriate for the committee to visit at the time identified.

I am sure the committee is very conscious of the cultural sensibilities around cultural business out of respect for the community’s wishes that the committee cancel its scheduled trip. This trip to Yalata and Oak Valley will be a priority trip in the next reporting period. I do not think I will have to muscle in on that one. I will be quite welcome, I am sure, to join the Aboriginal lands committee to visit the electorate of Flinders. We are looking forward to that. Congratulations to the committee. Shona Reid has been mentioned in glowing terms today. None of our committees could do the work we do without appropriate administrative support. Shona is the person who provides that support to the Aboriginal lands committee.

Moving on to some interesting things that are going on in relation to the Aboriginal communities in my district in the west of the state, I have mentioned the Anangu people. Of course, the Mirning people lived out on the Nullarbor and were very involved in trading spearheads, right up through the centre of Australia, and we are only just discovering now how extensive that trading effort was. The Wirangu live on the West Coast. Their focus now is around Ceduna. The Barngarla people and the Nauo people shared the south and the east of the peninsula. Of course, the Kokotha people lived in the Gawler Ranges, most of which is in the electorate of Giles. All have a place on Eyre Peninsula, absolutely.

Interestingly, both the Wirangu people and the Barngarla people are working very hard to record their language before these languages are lost. Much work has been done, particularly in the last half a dozen years or so, to capture the language of both the Wirangu and the Barngarla people. In fact, the Barngarla people even have a phone app now which can be used to determine the local words in the language for those people. Important work continues in preserving the culture, what is left of it, and language is such an important part of that culture—language and land. My congratulations to all those people. Well done to the committee. I look forward with interest to the work we might do in the coming 12 months.


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