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Working Together

Aboriginal peoples in South Australia are involved in looking after Country in a variety of ways. They may be looking after Country where they hold tenure over their Lands or where they have access to their Lands via Native Title rights, or they may be working with other organisations to look after Country.

Aboriginal peoples are part of Country and have continuing cultural responsibilities and activities aimed at looking after Country. Access to Country was considered a key challenge to Aboriginal people in their ability to meet their cultural obligations of looking after Country.

The South Australian Voice to Parliament will provide Aboriginal peoples with a say about legislation, policies and programs that impact them, including those that link to looking after Country in accordance with the First Nations Voice Act 2023. The First Nations Voice will consist of community members elected by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in South Australia to represent their communities. The election was held on 16 March 2024.

SA Government Agencies

A number of government agencies are working closely with Aboriginal peoples on matters relating to Caring for Country.

Landscape Boards

  • In December 2021, the Chairs of the 9 South Australian Landscape SA Boards signed the Statement of Commitment, which makes 12 commitments. This statement will be reviewed in September 2024. The introductory information includes the following:
Through respectful cross-cultural knowledge sharing, learning together and long-term conversations, the Landscape SA Boards commit to implementing actions that will see board members, staff and Aboriginal people partner to manage, protect and restore Country.
  • All the Landscape Boards work with Aboriginal peoples and are forming partnerships to help care for Country.

Alinytjara Wilurara

Eyre Peninsula

  • Aboriginal partnerships are fostered by the Board to support Aboriginal participation and leadership in managing the region’s natural resources.
  • A successful Grassroots Grants 2023–24 application for Creating Coastal Connections aims to connect local people with experts and First Nations groups.
  • References to other information can be found on the Board’s website at Aboriginal people and First Nations.

Green Adelaide 

Hills and Fleurieu

  • The First Nations Partnerships program has been established to meaningfully involve Traditional Owners and Aboriginal people in natural resource planning, management and project delivery to create lasting two-way benefits.
  • Other information can be found by searching the Board’s website at Aboriginal people and First Nations.

Kangaroo Island

Limestone Coast

Murraylands and Riverland

Northern and Yorke

South Australia Arid Lands 

Department for Environment and Water

  • The National Parks and Wildlife Service of South Australia, which is part of DEW, is in partnership with Aboriginal groups to collectively manage certain parks, combining contemporary park management with traditional knowledge.
    • Co-management seeks to protect the environment, continue cultural use of the parks by the Traditional Owners, preserve and protect Aboriginal sites and continue public use and enjoyment of the parks.
    • Aboriginal perspectives about these co-management arrangements are expressed in the book ‘Strong People, Strong Country’.
    • There are currently nine co-management boards (where the board is the management authority for the park) and four co-management advisory committees (where the committee advises the Director of National Parks and Wildlife, who is the management authority).

South Australian Native Title Service

  • South Australian Native Title Service Ltd (SANTS) assists Aboriginal people in South Australia to gain recognition and to protect their Native Title rights and interests according to the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993. Under this Act, when Native Title is legally granted over certain areas of land, the rights may include using the land for hunting and ceremonial purposes, camping and living on the land, receiving financial benefits from any development and having a say in land management and development. As such, Native Title is one of the avenues to enable Aboriginal peoples to access their Lands, assist in them meeting their cultural obligations to look after Country while developing and maintaining their culture, educate next generations and obtain the health and wellbeing benefits that connection to Country brings. There are 19 registered Native Title Bodies Corporate that are listed on the SANTS website.

Aboriginal Lands Trust

  • The Aboriginal Lands Trust was established under the Aboriginal Lands Trust Act 1966 for the transfer of land by the Crown to the Trust, to be held and managed for the ongoing benefit of Aboriginal South Australians. Aboriginal communities on Aboriginal Land Trust lands include those located at:
    • Davenport (near Port Augusta)
    • Gerard (Riverland)
    • Koonibba (NW of Ceduna)
    • Nipapanha (near Copley)
    • Point Pearce (Yorke Peninsula)
    • Raukkan (near Narrung)
    • Umoona (Coober Pedy)
    • Yalata (west of Ceduna)
    • Homelands at Ceduna, Yarilena and Warevilla (Ceduna), Dunjiba (Oodnadatta) and Poonindie (Port Lincoln).

Other Agencies

Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara

The Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights Act 1981 acknowledged Anangu ownership of more than 103,000 km2 of arid lands in the northwest of South Australia. The Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara and Ngaanyatjarra Traditional Owners are all members of Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY).

A land management program was established to protect natural and cultural values, and the program carries out various biodiversity conservation and cultural protection projects, including:

  • the protection of the Warru (Black-footed Rock-wallaby Petrogale lateralis), which is an endangered mammal
  • the Women’s Project (Minymaku Warka) to increase women’s involvement in land management
  • work of the Warru Kaninytjaku APY Rangers
  • looking after Country across the APY Lands, including in their five Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs).

There is a developing pastoral industry on parts of the Lands, which includes the management of environmental challenges such as grazing management and feral animal control.

Indigenous Protected Areas and Indigenous Ranger Programs

IPAs consist of land and sea areas managed by First Nations communities for biodiversity conservation and are a very important part of Australia’s National Reserve System. They deliver environmental benefits by implementing management plans, help communities protect cultural values and provide health, education, economic and social benefits.

Across Australia, IPAs and Indigenous Ranger Programs are administered jointly by:

The ‘Stories from Country 2022’ book provides information about the success of IPAs and Ranger Programs.

South Australia was home to Australia’s first IPA. The Nipapanha Community created the IPA on an old pastoral station known as Nantawarrina. The land located on the station was degraded from overgrazing and successive droughts. Progress has been made in restoring the land and biodiversity.

Currently in South Australia, there are 10 IPAs, which cover 6,192,361 hectares, with another 2 currently being negotiated via IPA consultation projects. There are 9 Aboriginal Ranger Programs in South Australia. An interactive map shows IPAs & Ranger Program locations as well as the local administrative organisation for each of the projects, which include:

Landscape SA provides comments from Aboriginal rangers about the importance of working on Country.

Other Organisations