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Yorke Peninsula Native Title Settlement

3 December 2004

Four Yorke Peninsula Councils, the Narrunga Nation and the SA Government have signed an agreement to settle Native Title issues.

Note: this release was issued jointly by the SA Attorney-General, Mr Michael Atkinson, the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement and the Local Government Association.

The South Australian Government, Narungga Nation and four Yorke Peninsula Councils have reached an historic agreement over native title.

Negotiations over 18 months have led to today's signing of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) that settles the way native title interacts with local government in the Yorke Peninsula region.

The ILUA signing ceremony at Maitland includes Attorney-General Michael Atkinson, the Narungga Nation Aboriginal Corporation and the Yorke Peninsula Region of Councils comprised of the District Council of Yorke Peninsula, Barunga West and Copper Coast and Wakefield Regional Council. The peak bodies in the Narungga ILUA negotiations include the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement and the Local Government Association of South Australia.

"This is a big day for the people of South Australia, but particularly for the people of the Yorke Peninsula. They have set a fine example of what negotiations can achieve," says the Attorney-General.

"I'd much rather see outcomes like this as a result of the ILUA negotiation process than have parties involved in lengthy and costly litigation to sort out matters of native title. There are no winners there.

"These land use agreements are a far better alternative to litigation because they help establish strong relationships between people," says Mr Atkinson.

Yorke Peninsula Mayor, Robert Schulze, says the agreement is just the start of improved relationships with Aboriginal people.

"All of the Councils want some certainty on native title and heritage matters and also recognise the need to establish better relationships with the Narungga Nation about the protection of their interests. We have achieved that. This is a good result for everyone," he says.

ALRM Native Title Unit executive officer, Mr Parry Agius, says the Narungga ILUA was another signal of the willingness of Aboriginal people to enter into agreements.

"This agreement is the result of goodwill by all parties and a willingness to establish strong relationships," says Mr Agius.

President of the LGA, Cr John Legoe, says he hoped this ILUA was the first of many agreements to be made between councils and Aboriginal people.

"This agreement shows what can happen when people are willing to sit down with one another and work through issues," he says.

The agreement includes a regime for doing things that may affect native title, an Aboriginal heritage protection protocol and a development notification process to ensure that Narungga are informed of developments proposed on the Peninsula. It also establishes a committee made up of representatives of all parties to work on issues at a local level, such as employment opportunities for Narungga people. In return, the Councils and the State receive certainty of process and an established mechanism for building a better region for all its constituents.

It is hoped the Narungga Local Government ILUA will pave the way for other councils and native title groups to enter into negotiations. Today's agreement will also form the basis of future agreements in local government areas, effectively dealing with all matters relevant to councils and native title claimants, without resorting to litigation.

This is the sixth South Australian ILUA to be signed, with five completed in the last 12 months.

For more information about Local Government and Native Title click here .

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