We need a voice to close the widening gap in the Northern Territory New Productivity Commission data shows that the Northern Territory is going backwards on eight out of the 17 socio-economic Closing the Gap targets.

“Business as usual is failing our people,” said Dr John Paterson, APO NT Convenor and Acting CEO of NAAJA. “We need a Voice to Parliament so our solutions can be heard.”

While states such as Western Australia and Victoria are making real progress on Closing the Gap, the Northern Territory is getting worse from an already low baseline.

“The NT has the highest proportion of Aboriginal people, but it lacks a real whole of government commitment to implementing our solutions.

“The Closing the Gap partnership depends on the recognition of our expertise,” Donna Ah Chee, APO NT Governing Group member, and Acting CEO of AMSANT.

Most concerning is the adult imprisonment numbers, which are increasing at the highest rate in the country. The Northern Territory Government has walked away from its commitment to implementing the recommendations from the Don Dale Royal Commission, and instead has reinforced and fortified punitive aspects of the justice system that we know do not work.

The NT is the only jurisdiction where the employment gap is widening.

“We have long presented alternatives to the failed and costly Community Development Program (CDP) that will create real jobs in our communities,” Dr John Paterson said. “It is wasteful and a missed opportunity not to formally partner with us on solutions.”

The gap in the life expectancy for Aboriginal women in the Northern Territory is also getting wider. Aboriginal women die 12.8 years younger than non-Aboriginal women here. Many of the Safe Houses in the Northern Territory are in a state of disrepair and neglect, if they are present in communities at all.

We call on governments to invest in Aboriginal owned and led programs to support women’s safety.

Housing in the NT remains almost twice as crowded as in all other States and Territories. The new National Partnership Agreement on Housing and Homelands is an opportunity for the NT to ensure the investment we need to close this gap.

While Aboriginal youth everywhere else are increasingly getting educated, trained and employed, our young Territorians are experiencing the worst outcomes in the country. Current, mainstream education systems are failing our children.

We call on the NTG to speed up delivering on its commitment to reform school funding so remote schools are not missing out on needs-based resourcing.

“We welcome the opportunity for a new way of working with government. At the moment, there is an inconsistency between the rhetoric and the reality. It’s one thing to be at the table and another to be heard and listened to” said Jerome Cubillo, CEO of NTIBN.

Download the Annual data report | Closing the Gap Information Repository – Productivity Commission (pc.gov.au)

Download the Media Release

For Media enquiries please contact: APO NT Manager, email: secretariat@apont.org.au | Phone: 0473 423 806

Recording of the multilingual PBCmob app.

The largest gathering of native title holder corporation members in Central Australia will this week launch a new phone app in six local languages.

The Prescribed Bodies Corporate Regional Forum, better known as PBC Camp, is a biennial event aimed at strengthening the capacity of members and directors to run more than 30 corporations in the Central Land Council’s region.

Between 100 and 150 participants will today kick off the camp at the Yipirinya School in Alice Springs, where it had to be relocated due to rain.

Tomorrow morning at 10:45am CLC chief executive Les Turner will launch the multilingual PBCmob app, a new tool tackling the literacy and language barriers to understanding one of Australia’s most complex pieces of legislation, the Native Title Act.

“Knowledge is power, and the app promises to return power where it belongs – with the native title holders,” Mr Turner said.

“It will help them cut through the legalese when they negotiate about developments such as mining and horticulture on cattle stations and manage land use agreements.”

“Native title holders in remote communities have poor access to computers and the internet and often limited digital literacy, but many use mobile phones,” said Mr Turner.

“Our highly visual app is simple and easy to navigate and, most importantly, it speaks their languages.”

It explains native title concepts in Arrernte, Alyawarr, Kaytetye, Pitjantjatjara, Warlpiri and Warumungu, and compares them with land rights.
“Native title rights and land rights are very different, yet people often confuse them,” the CLC’s manager of native title, Francine McCarthy, said. “The PBCmob app aims to clear up that confusion.”

“It will also be useful for all the agencies the members and directors of native title corporations deal with, from the National Indigenous Australians Agency to Indigenous Business Australia.”

The app was funded by the Aboriginals Benefit Account and is based on the CLC’s publication Native Title Story.

Ms McCarthy is sourcing additional funding so the CLC can add more languages to the app and also make it available on PC and Mac computers.

The three-day PBC Camp program also includes an information session and discussion about the voice to parliament.

Download the Media Release

Media Contact : Elke Wiesmann | 0417 877 579| media@clc.org.au

 The four NT land council chairs at Barunga

The chairs of the four Northern Territory Aboriginal land councils will visit Parliament House in Canberra tomorrow to deliver the 2023 Barunga Declaration urging Australians to support a Voice to Parliament.

The chairs and members of the land councils are elected representatives of tens of thousands of traditional owners and Aboriginal residents of remote communities, homelands, town camps and towns across the NT.

The four chairs will present the Barunga Declaration to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

On 9 June, members of the Northern, Central, Tiwi and Anindilyakwa land councils signed the Declaration at Barunga on the anniversary of the 1988 Barunga Statement that was presented to then Prime Minister Bob Hawke.

Thirty-five years ago the Central and Northern land council chairs Wenten Rubuntja and Yunupingu addressed the leader of the Federal Government and called for Aboriginal recognition and rights.

The Barunga Declaration

Today, the 2023 Barunga Declaration speaks directly to the people of Australia and calls for “the recognition of our peoples in our still young constitution by enshrining our voice to the parliament and executive government, never to be rendered silent with the stroke of a pen again”.

It invites all Australians to “right the wrongs of the past and deal with the serious issues impacting First Nations peoples…and unite our country”.

Northern Land Council chair, Dr Samuel Bush-Blanasi, said: “This Declaration comes from our people. It is the voice from the bush calling on all Australians to recognise us, support us, and help us make the changes so urgently needed for a better future, together.”

Tiwi Land Council chair, Gibson Farmer Illortaminni, said: “Through the establishment of a Voice to Parliament, we, the Tiwi people, want to be at the table when decisions are made that affect our land, culture, and future. We urge all Australians to join us to ensure our voices are heard and respected when important decisions are being made that affect us”.

“The Barunga Declaration deserves to hang alongside the Barunga Statement on the walls of the people’s house for all times and make future generations of Australians proud,” Central Land Council chair Matthew Palmer said.

Anindilyakwa Land Council chair, Tony Wurramarrba, said: “We want our voices to always be heard in the parliament and by the government before decisions are made about us. Business as usual has failed us. We are here to ask all Australians to help us open the door to a better way of working together and vote yes in the referendum.”

Watch grass-roots members of the land councils signing the agreement

Time and venue of the media event to be confirmed by Prime Minister’s Office.

Watch the video without subtitles

Download the Media Release

Media contacts (at Parliament House): CLC Elke Wiesmann 0417 877 579, NLC Francine Chinn 0427 031 382

The chair of the Central Land Council warmly welcomes the Northern Territory Government’s efforts to shut the revolving prison door on Aboriginal children and adults.
“Lifting the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years of age means that the cruel practice of jailing 10-year-old children ceases,” CLC chair Robert Hoosan said.

“It’s a long-overdue and welcome step on the way to raising the age to 14 years, in line with more enlightened and civilised societies.”
“I hope the next NT budget will back this important reform with the resources for prevention, therapy and diversion needed to make it a success.”

The legislation introduced today delivers on a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT.
“We should all be proud to become the first jurisdiction in Australia to not just pay lip service to, but actually legislate, raising the age of criminal responsibility,” said Mr Hoosan.
The CLC also applauds the repeal of mandatory sentencing for some offences.
“Our members have opposed this unfair, wasteful and ineffective legislation for a quarter of a century,” he said.

“A smart justice system takes individual circumstances into account and offers alternatives to jail to offenders who can be rehabilitated.
“This reform will make the Territory a fairer and safer place if it is backed by effective and well-funded behavioural change programs.”
Among the legal changes introduced into in the NT Legislative Assembly are anti-vilification measures and a positive duty to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation.
“These anti-discrimination reforms will avert harm from all Territorians and benefit Aboriginal people in particular,” said Mr Hoosan.
“I commend Attorney-General Chansey Paech for listening to our members and pushing these reforms through against strong opposition.”

13 October 2022

The Chair of the Central Land Council, Robert Hoosan, today welcomed the passage of legislation to abolish the cashless debit card (CDC) as an important step in the transition to end compulsory income management.

The cashless debit card will end in the Northern Territory next year, but a system of compulsory income quarantining will continue for at least a further 12 months after that.

“We at CLC strongly welcome abolishing the cashless debit card,” Mr Hoosan said. “On top of that, we want to see an end to all forms of compulsory quarantining of welfare money, but this has to be done carefully, making sure that people get good information and support so they understand the changes.

“The Government needs to consult properly with the community controlled Aboriginal organisations and with communities to co-design a new system with us so people can choose what is best for themselves.”

Mr Hoosan said this could allow for voluntary approaches to income management and should include investment in culturally appropriate financial counselling in languages people understand.

Compulsory income management was first introduced in the NT in 2007 as part of the Howard Government Northern Territory Intervention and was exclusively imposed on Aboriginal people. Mr Hoosan said that 15 years of income management had hurt Aboriginal people and caused a lot of harm.

“The Intervention and income quarantining really hurt Aboriginal people. It was racially-based and it stigmatised and shamed people. All the research done over the years has not produced any evidence to show that income management gave any benefit to solve social problems. It’s time to get rid of it.

“We want to see the money that has been spent on controlling people put into positive investments, and strategies that have good evidence to help people get treatment for alcohol and drug problems.

“And we want a new approach for remote employment and getting people off welfare and into local jobs that are good for communities, like the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT proposal for a Remote Development and Employment Scheme to replace the failed CDP,” Mr Hoosan said. “That’s the future we want.”

The four NT Land Councils held a historic meeting on Gurindji country, on Thursday, 25 August 2022.

Executive Council Members discussed a range of topics including Uluru Statement from the Heart, Voice to Parliament, Northern Territory Treaty, how to address the poor turnout in remote Aboriginal communities at the last election, remote housing and homelands and imminent rent increases for remote communities planned by the Northern Territory Government, and township leasing arrangements on Aboriginal land under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.

Chair of the Central Land Council, Mr Robert Hoosan, said he was proud to host Executive Council Members from Tiwi Land Council, Anindilyakwa Land Council and Northern Land Council at Kalkaringi.

“Gurindji Country is the birthplace of Land Rights and this week the anniversary of the Wave Hill Walk Off. History was made 56 years ago this week and history was made again today,” Mr Hoosan said.

Senator Patrick Dodson, Special Envoy for Reconciliation and the Implementation of the Uluru Statement, and Member for Lingiari, Marion Scrymgour, spoke about a range of matters including the Voice to Parliament. The combined Executives passed a resolution supporting implementation of the Uluṟu Statment from the Heart in full and changing the Australian Constitution to enshrine a Voice to Parliament within this term of Government.

Chairman of the Northern Land Council, Mr Samuel Bush-Blanasi said he was proud to support this historic resolution. “We have been waiting too long for the Voice. I heard Prime Minister Albanese speak at Garma about changing the Constitution to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. I’m glad to see things are moving forward again.”

Representatives from the Australian Electoral Commission were also invited to attend to address Executives Members on how to ‘close the gap’ in voter enrolment and participation rates between urban and remote areas of the NT and other states. 

Mr Gibson Farmer-Illortaminni said this is an important issue. “I heard today as many as 25,000 Territorians are not enrolled to vote. We need to do better. This is about getting our young men and women involved and educating our people about having a say in elections for the Territory and Commonwealth governments,” Mr Farmer-Illortaminni said. “Things are not much better for older people, the system often fails them too.”

The Executive Council Members also discussed funding for remote housing and the Northern Territory Government’s plans to impose a large increase in rent in remote Aboriginal communities commencing in September. Members passed a resolution calling on the NT Government to implement a moratorium on the rent increase until further consultations have occurred on the rent framework, a permanent subsidy is put in place and rates per room are brought into line with levels proposed in consultations in 2018.  

Council Members also welcomed the Government’s $100 million election commitment for NT homelands. Members passed a resolution seeking a commitment from the Commonwealth Government to ongoing funding for homelands and to co-design a process for the distribution of homelands funding. 

“This is important for all Aboriginal people on homelands and for Aboriginal people in the Anindilyakwa region,” Mr Thomas Amagula, Deputy Chair of Anindilyakwa Land Council, said. 

The combined Executives also discussed township leasing arrangements on Aboriginal land. Chairman of the Northern Land Council noted that funding for townships leases and the cost of administering these leases comes from the Aboriginals Benefits Account.

“The Government should pay for this somewhere else. It should not come from ABA – that is Aboriginal money,” said Mr Bush-Blanasi. Executive members agreed to send a delegation to Canberra to discuss these issues with Minister Burney, Minister McCarthy, Senator Dodson and Member for Lingiari, Marion Scrymgour. 

ENDS

An independent study of the Singleton Horticulture Project has found that it is dependent on a massive public subsidy, promised economic benefits that are overstated, and has significant ecological, cultural and social costs that have not been properly considered.

The report team, led by University of South Australia water economics professor Jeff Connor, analysed the business case put forward for Singleton by Fortune Agribusiness.

Fortune Agribusiness says Singleton will create 110 permanent and 1350 seasonal jobs, but the report finds it delivers little for the Northern Territory. The experts conclude Singleton is likely to generate only 26-36 fulltime equivalent jobs for Territorians, with just 5-8 of those jobs going to Aboriginal communities in the Barkly.

The report says a realistic estimate of economic benefit to Territorians was between $13 million and $28 million a year, rather than the $110 million claimed by Fortune Agribusiness.

By analysing prices paid for water on other Australian projects, the experts estimated the value of the free water subsidy being given to Fortune by the NT Government at between $70 million and $300 million plus.

Professor Connor said Singleton was one of a long line of irrigation proposals that promised more than they delivered.

“The Singleton water project is no exception,” he said. “It seeks the allocation of a large volume of water free of charge in return for employment benefits which are largely illusory, especially as regards the creation of full-time jobs for local indigenous workers.”

The Central Land Council-commissioned report was peer reviewed pro bono by Professor Quentin Grafton of the Australian National University who backed its conclusions.

Professor Grafton found the free water subsidy meant the NT is giving away “in the order of $250m” which “is not justified from either a public interest or a cost-benefit perspective”.

Releasing the report today, Central Land Council chief executive Les Turner said it poses serious questions about the project’s social, cultural and environmental costs.

“Not only has the project failed the economic benefits test, it has also neglected to account for the damage it would do to Aboriginal communities and country”.

Mr Turner said the CLC would continue to stand with traditional owners who oppose the government’s decision to give Fortune 40 gigalitres of finite ground water every year for 30 years.

“We are talking about emptying Sydney Harbour twice, about giving away water worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The report finds the NT Government’s lack of proper consultation with Aboriginal communities contradicts the Government’s own policies on Closing the Gap and the Everyone Together 2019-2029 Strategy, and the Government’s obligations under the National Water Initiative.

Review of the Singleton Horticulture Project                                                                    Peer Review by Prof Q. Gratton

Central Land Council chief executive Les Turner has paid tribute to the High Court judge who wrote the lead judgement in the landmark Mabo case.

Sir Gerard Brennan’s judgement recognised for the first time under Australian law that the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to their land according to their own laws and customs not only predated, but survived, settlement and continue to this day.

Mr Turner said Sir Gerard, who died on Wednesday, on the eve of the 30th Mabo anniversary, would be always remembered for the historic decision.

“We will never forget that Sir Gerard exposed the lie of Terra Nullius at the heart of Australia’s legal system,” he said.

“By the time he handed down the Mabo decision in 1992, he had heard many appeals brought by the enemies of land rights in the Northern Territory.”

Sir Gerard is being remembered as a brilliant and compassionate man who in retirement campaigned for social justice and advocated for a national integrity commission.

In his Mabo judgement he wrote “It is imperative in today’s world that the common law should neither be, nor be seen to be, frozen in an age of racial discrimination”.

“The fiction by which the rights and interests of Indigenous (people) in land were treated as non-existent was justified by a policy which has no place in the contemporary law of this country.”

Mr Turner paid his respects to the family of Sir Gerard on behalf of the CLC. “I hope his children take comfort in the knowledge that thirty years on, their father’s judgment continues to set precedence in our continuing fights for our land.”

The chair of the Central Land Council, Robert Hoosan, has congratulated the Northern Territory’s four federal representatives on their election success. Mr Hoosan said he is particularly proud of the trio of female Aboriginal politicians.

“Marion, Malarndirri and Jacinta have campaigned hard for their victories and made history,” he said. “Each made their case strongly during our recent council meetings. I wish them all well. “It’s so good to have three Aboriginal women represent us in Canberra, and our elected members look forward to meeting with them again as soon as possible.”

Mr Hoosan plans to work closely with the new member for Lingiari, Marion Scrymgour, and NT senators Malarndirri McCarthy and Jacinta Price to improve the lives of people in remote communities and town camps. “I want to work with them on creating real jobs and building decent houses in our remote communities, and making our communities safe and healthy places for all residents,” he said.

“From climate change to water security, the previous government has left us with a lot of challenges that we must now tackle together if we want to have a future on our country. There is no time to lose.”

Mr Hoosan, an elder and youth worker who teaches bush skills to young men at risk, believes that implementing the Uluru Statement for the Heart will change lives. “I would not be interested if it was about symbolism,” he said. “We need a voice to the parliament so we can let Canberra know which practical solutions we think will work for our people and which are doomed to fail.” Mr Hoosan said he wants elected representatives to leave the old politics of division behind.

“I hope we call all work together and make the voice a reality – for all Australians,” he said.

Central Land Council Chair Robert Hoosan

The Central Land Council has pledged to work closely with the new Australian Government to progress overdue policy reforms.

“I congratulate Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and incoming Aboriginal Affairs Minister Linda Burney, and look forward to help fast-track decent housing and jobs in our remote communities,” CLC chair Robert Hoosan said.

“Aboriginal peak organisations have developed a strong model for the creation of real jobs with which we want the new government to replace the Coalition government’s failed work-for-the-dole scheme.”

“We would also like to talk with Mr Albanese and Ms Burney about working with us to keep our young people out of trouble,” he said.

Mr Hoosan is an elder and youth worker who teaches bush skills to young men at risk.

As one of the delegates who endorsed the Uluru Statement for the Heart in 2017, he welcomed Ms Burney’s plan to consult with those who delivered the statement to the nation.

“Let’s all work together to finally get the Uluru Statement implemented in full,” Mr Hoosan said.

“We have been ready for a long time, and now the country is ready too.”

He was heartened to hear the Prime Minister make this promise at the start of his victory speech on Saturday night.

“I trust it means something that this was the first thing Mr Albanese said to the country. “It gives me real hope that, unlike Bob Hawke’s treaty promise, this promise will be kept,” he said.

Custodian Terrence Abbott and Australian Wildlife Conservancy CEO Tim Allard

An exciting new partnership in Central Australia between the traditional owners of the Ngalurrtju Aboriginal Land Trust, Central Land Council and Australian Wildlife Conservancy sees more than 300,000 hectares brought under conservation management

Alice Springs, NT, Thursday 12 May 2022 – The traditional owners, the Central Land Council (CLC) and Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) have signed an agreement to collaboratively promote the conservation of the unique cultural and ecological values of the land trust in the Northern Territory.

Building on long-standing and productive relationships between the Warlpiri, Anmatyerr and Luritja -speaking traditional owners, the CLC and AWC, this new collaboration – the Ngalurrtju partnership – will provide exciting opportunities for mutual learning through the sharing of Aboriginal cultural and ecological knowledge, conservation land management practices and scientific research methods.

“We look forward to working on our country with the CLC and AWC, to protect our sacred sites and look after all the plants and animals,” said Nigel Andy, from the Karrinyarra traditional owner group.

The land trust features many sites of great cultural and spiritual importance. A major ngapa (water) songline travels right through the middle.

CLC chief executive Les Turner said the agreement between the CLC and AWC would provide for strong protection of these sites and included an employment package of approximately $170,000 per year.

“The package will create employment and training opportunities for the members of four estate groups and their communities,” he said. “All these groups will be represented on the partnership’s steering committee, ensuring the area will be managed in line with the traditional owners’ cultural knowledge and obligations.”

The 323,000 hectare land trust in the Great Sandy Desert bioregion at the edge of the Tanami Desert straddles the transition zone at the junction of three arid zone bioregions. It adjoins AWC’s 262,000-hectare Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary.

Together these two properties will protect almost 600,000-hectares of exceptional conservation value.

Central Australia’s biodiversity is under threat from feral cats and foxes, altered fire regimes, feral camels, cattle, horses and weeds. Tim Allard, the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s CEO, anticipates that the partnership will see these threats controlled and biodiversity restored on a landscape scale.

“AWC is working to extend its innovative Indigenous Partnership model by forming a new partnership with the Ngalurrtju traditional owners and the CLC. Together we will be establishing a template for collaborative conservation in Central Australia.”

The adjacent Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary has been effectively managed for conservation for more than two decades.

At Newhaven, AWC has worked with Luritja and Warlpiri-speaking rangers and native title holders for more than 15 years on conservation programs ranging from biodiversity and targeted threatened species monitoring to active land management programs such as fire management and feral animal control.  

Science informs all of AWC’s on-ground conservation actions and an extensive science program will be implemented at Ngalurrtju, including monitoring of threatened and culturally important species and ecosystems.

The partnership will complement and extend the work on Newhaven in collaboration with the CLC’s Warlpiri and Anangu Luritjiku rangers and AWC’s Ngalurrtju and Newhaven Warlpiri rangers.

Recording and mapping threatened and culturally important species and ecosystems and building an inventory of extant plant and animal species will be early priorities. This important process helps to identify threatening processes and informs the development of a culturally-based conservation land management program and ‘healthy country’ planning.

The partnership will help to secure populations of some of Australia’s most threatened species, deliver positive cultural and socio-economic outcomes for traditional owners and provide a best-practice template for collaborative conservation in Central Australia.

Follow links for more information on the Central Land Council’s and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s work.  

Barbara Shaw and Derek Walker will represent the Central Land Council on the 12-member board of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Investment Corporation.

Ms Shaw, from Alice Springs, and Mr Walker, from Alekarenge, were chosen at the CLC meeting in Tennant Creek, in a secret ballot run by the NT Electoral Commission.

In a significant step towards greater Aboriginal control over the 1.3 billion dollar Aboriginals Benefit Account, the new corporation will manage the payments to Aboriginal Territorians and their organisations known as ABA grants.

The corporation, a commonwealth corporate entity established under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, will also make investments and provide financial assistance “to or for the benefit of” NT Aboriginal people.

Its board has a majority of Aboriginal members, including two from each of the four NT land councils.

“For the first time, an Aboriginal-controlled body will make decisions about ABA funds and I look forward to our members shaping the corporation that brings the ABA home to the NT, where it belongs,” said CLC chief executive Les Turner.

The ABA distributes the equivalents of royalties generated by mining on Aboriginal land in the NT, and the CLC has advocated for Aboriginal control over this income for more than three decades.

The council also elected a new leadership team that represents the CLC regions.

The new CLC chair, Robert Hoosan, and deputy chair, Warren Williams, will be joined on the executive committee by Barbara Shaw (Alice Springs region), Charles Gibson (South West region), Valerie Martin (Tanami region), Martin Jugadai (Western region), Sandra Jones Morrison (Tennant Creek region), Jackie Mahoney (Eastern Sandover region), Neville Petrick (Eastern Plenty region) and Kim Brown (Central region).

The North West region delegates will chose an executive member at a later date.

7 April 2022

The Central Land Council has elected Anangu youth worker Robert Hoosan as CLC chair and Warlpiri youth organisation leader Warren Williams as deputy chair at its meeting at Tennant Creek today.

Mr Hoosan is a former CLC field officer, police officer, health worker and Uniting Church chair from Aputula (Finke).

He and other elders take young men out bush for weeks at a time where they teach spear and boomerang-making at cultural healing camps “to fix our spirit up”.

He is proud of the many young people communities in the southern half of the NT have chosen over the past six weeks to represent them on the land council for the next three years.

“It makes me really proud that the community had the good idea to put young people on. One of them is only 20 years old – our youngest delegate ever. That’s good, but we still need to learn from the old people,” he said.

“We’ve got good delegates and staff, both men and women, and we’ve got to work together. The land council’s future looks bright.”

Mr Hoosan has been a member of the CLC’s 11-member executive committee since 2019 and was a delegate when he was younger. He is also a board member of the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority.

“I love to listen to people and try to guide them, and I need them to guide me too. We delegates, the remote communities, are the land council.”

Mr Williams, a former assistant school principal who is the deputy president of the Central Desert Shire Council and chairs Yuendumu’s Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation, plans to advocate for young people.

“We get them out to Mount Theo [outstation] where they learn their culture,” he said.

“We’ve been asking for a school there for a very long time because they also need to learn to read and write.”

Mr Williams also wants to focus on the repatriation of sacred objects and the protection of sites and act as a peace maker.

“I want to help people in our communities live in harmony.”

The election was carried out by the NT Electoral Commission.

This afternoon the CLC delegates will chose the remaining nine members of the executive committee and two members of the board of the new NT Aboriginal Investment Corporation.

6 April 2022

The Central Land Council welcomes a report about empowering traditional owners in the management and operation of Commonwealth national parks by a senior advisory group on joint management arrangements.

CLC chair Sammy Wilson called on all political parties to commit to the implementation of the SAG’s recommendations.

He also commended Environment Minister Sussan Ley for announcing new investments across three parks, including the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

“It’s good that the minister has promised to fund more Anangu jobs and to help us fight threats to our land,” Mr Wilson said.

“We want to protect our threatened sites, plants and animals, burn our country the right way and share its stories.”

The tourism operator and former chair of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park’s board of management wants to see the 24 recommendations of the report followed up with real action.

“We’ve been asking for these reforms for a very long time and have taken part in too many reports already, for example the Joint Management Futures report of 2015.”

“There is an election coming and Anangu want to know what the parties will do to help us become equal partners on our land at last,” he said.

CLC chief executive Lesley Turner is hoping for a clear commitment to creating many more meaningful jobs for Anangu on the park, including casual employment.

“The recommended new cultural co-ordinator and engagement officer positions would be a good first step towards putting the intergenerational transfer of Anangu knowledge front and centre,” he said.

“Supporting these workers means accommodating cultural and kinship obligations and requires greater flexibility than the federal public service has been able to muster to date.”

Mr Turner welcomed the SAG’s focus on better resourcing for culturally sustainable tourism by and with Anangu.

“For too long this massive task has been pursued in a token manner,” he said.

“Supporting traditional owners to work in tourism and realise their business ideas takes dedicated and stable resources, such as staffing and access to real business development expertise and mentoring.

“There is a gulf to bridge, from education and training to work readiness, and we look forward to sharing what we’ve learned from our successful ranger and community development programs,” he said.

11 March 2022

The failure to fix overcrowding in remote community houses calls for urgent reform measures, according to the Central Land Council’s executive committee.

The call comes in the wake of another critical report about the lack of progress on national remote housing targets, this time from the Australian National Audit Office.

The report shows that the Closing the Gap target of 88% of Aboriginal people living in houses that are not overcrowded by 2031 is far from on track.

“The audit report found that more than half of our houses are still overcrowded,” CLC chair Sammy Wilson said.

“Overcrowding kills, as this pandemic has shown once again, because our growing families can’t safely isolate from the virus.

“How many more reports do governments need until they admit that they are not reducing overcrowding fast enough?”

Meeting in Alice Springs today, the council’s executive said the ANAO report is another reminder that the remote housing system is broken.

The CLC wants the major parties to commit to increasing their investment in remote housing if they win government and to rebuilding the Aboriginal community-controlled housing sector.

In 2018, a $550 million federal government funding commitment, the National Partnership Agreement for Remote Indigenous Housing, was expected to provide 650 three-bedroom houses in remote communities by 2023.

The ANAO report found that only 19 per cent of targeted new home builds, the equivalent of 121 three-bedroom houses, had been completed by last September.

 “To save lives and improve the life chances of our people, we need the federal and NT governments between them to spend at least two billion over the next five years,” CLC chief executive Les Turner said.

”This will build 2,000 new houses and make another 4,000 houses more liveable in communities and homelands across the CLC region.”

The audit report found that the National Indigenous Australians Agency “has not gained assurance that the NT Government is meeting its commitment to contribute $550 million to remote housing over the life of the National Partnership”.

Mr Turner said the governments need to stop pointing the finger at each other and work with the NT’s Aboriginal representative organisations to build a sustainable Aboriginal housing sector.

”The governments need to support remote community housing trials that will reveal the true cost of shifting to Aboriginal-controlled housing and invest in re-building the sector that was decimated by the Intervention,” he said.

“Bush voters want to know what the major parties will do if they win government in May.”

The corporation of the native title holders for Singleton Station, south of Tennant Creek, will today serve a claim against the Northern Territory Government.


The Mpwerempwer [pronounced emPUrra-empurra] Aboriginal Corporation is asking the NT Supreme Court to set aside NT Families Minister Kate Worden’s decision to grant Fortune Agribusiness a 30-year groundwater extraction licence for Singleton Station for up to 40 giga litres per year.


The controversial decision concerns the largest amount of groundwater the NT has ever given away – free of charge.


Fortune Agribusiness plans to grow thirsty crops in the desert, largely for export, and is a co-defendant in the claim in which the Central Land Council is acting on behalf of Mpwerempwer.


“We’re asking the court to declare parts of the extraction licence invalid or to quash it altogether,” CLC chief executive Les Turner said.


“We will show that the minister didn’t comply with the NT Water Act, failed to consider Aboriginal cultural values and other important matters, and that her decision was seriously irrational,” he said.


“We will argue that her decision is uncertain – not even a proper decision – because she left so many significant matters to be decided later.


“This uncertainty means that what Fortune Agribusiness is eventually allowed to do might be very different from what it proposed in its licence application.


“The water licence decision is unconscionable considering the impacts of climate change on highly vulnerable desert communities.”


Mr Turner said Minister Worden, acting as the delegate of NT Water Security Minister Eva Lawler, also failed to give Mpwerempwer procedural fairness.


In December the CLC asked the government not to grant any more licences in the water control district which includes Singleton Station until the Wester Davenport water allocation plan has been reviewed.


It called for the freeze due to its grave concerns about the over-allocation of groundwater.


Earlier this month Jo Townsend, the water controller and chief executive of the Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security, told the CLC that she would defer her decisions on new or bigger water licences in the region until a new Western Davenport water allocation plan is declared.


Mr Turner commended that result, saying, “This buys more time to review the science of our aquifers so all the water isn’t given away. This includes Singleton”.


The CLC encourages the NT Government to incorporate scientific best practices in the new water allocation plan and ensure there is enough data to make robust licence decisions.


“More facts, more knowledge, more understanding of our aquifers is needed. Only then can Aboriginal cultural values and the environment be fully protected.”


16 February 2022

The Central Land Council strongly supports the biosecurity determination in the Northern Territory and is appealing to remote community residents to stay safe in their communities and local government areas.

“We called for this circuit breaker, among other measures, to slow down the out-of-control spread of the virus in our remote communities,” CLC chief executive Les Turner said.

He said the measures will help hospitals cope, the NT Government to get on top of the underreporting of positive cases and buy time to lift vaccination rates in the Barkly and Central Australia.

“In remote communities such as in Wilora, two hours north of Alice Springs, only half of the people aged five years and over have received their second vaccination while in Alpurrurulam, near the Queensland border, only 38 per cent are fully vaccinated.”

Mr Turner said the circuit breaker will save lives if everyone pulls together and shares resources.

“The CLC asked for rapid response teams to test and trace and to set up isolation facilities in our communities for the many people who can’t isolate in their overcrowded houses.”

From today, remote community residents in Alice Springs will need a negative rapid antigen test and a permission letter from the CLC before they will be allowed to return home.

Remote community residents will also need a negative test and a CLC permission letter before they can leave their respective areas.

Mr Turner again called for the Australian Defence Force to help the NT Government staff road blocks to enforce the biosecurity restrictions and assist with evacuations.

“This must not become another missed opportunity to call on the army to help manage the pandemic,” he said.

“Governments, Aboriginal organisations and communities must now work together to save lives.”

Essential service providers will be free to move around but the biosecurity declaration affects other CLC permits that have already been granted.

“All CLC permits, except for essential workers and transit, are no longer valid while the biosecurity determination is in force,” Mr Turner said.

3 February 2022

Dear Chief Minister,


As Aboriginal organisations representing our communities across the Northern Territory, we are writing to you about the rapidly escalating COVID-19 outbreak in Central Australia.


We have been advocating continuously for firm action to slow the outbreak since it began in the early days of 2022. However, our requests have been ignored, or action taken too late or on too small a scale to make a real difference.


There has been a significant failure by government agencies in Central Australia to put into practice the plans agreed with your government before the outbreak.


This has directly led to COVID spreading out of control in the Aboriginal communities of Central Australia and beyond.


Because there is a lag between infections and hospitalisations, it is too early to become complacent and suggest that the rising case numbers will not lead to severe disease and deaths.


We don’t think we should have been put in the situation where it is primarily Aboriginal people who are being asked to take the risk that Omicron is only a mild virus, when public health measures properly implemented could have prevented many of the cases we are now seeing.


We are now left with no alternative but to call upon you to intervene and impose an immediate lockdown across Central Australia.


This is our last chance to flatten the curve of new infections and hospitalisations and save lives that will otherwise be lost.


Emergency Response – Implementation failures


The spread of COVID now appears to be out of control in the Aboriginal community in Alice Springs and Central Australia. Many of the issues we are facing were foreseen, and plans made to address them.

But there has been a catastrophic failure by government to discharge its responsibility to all Northern Territory residents by implementing these plans in Central Australia.


The failures include:
• late introduction of a vaccine pass system, which should have been introduced in the second half of 2021 to encourage people to get vaccinated


• late introduction of a mask mandate for high risk events, leading to low compliance at New Year’s Eve events, at least one of which was a ‘super-spreader’ incident


• slow and inadequate follow up of those who had attended the critical New Year’s Eve event, including some who became infected and returned to overcrowded households in Alice Springs houses, town camps and remote communities including Yuendumu. There was an inadequate Test, Trace, Isolate and Quarantine (TTIQ) response even though the initial outbreak was in Alice Springs


• failure to promptly list the New Years Eve party as a public exposure site so that people who had attended could be aware of their additional risk


• when positive cases were located in crowded households, they were left at home for more than 48 hours by which time the virus had spread within and between households and then to other town camps and houses. This was in contravention of all agreed plans to remove positive cases immediately from households where they were unable to safely self-isolate


• failure to stand up adequate supervised isolation facilities, despite numerous urgent requests to do so. This led to long delays in removing positive cases from crowded households, with many of these people leaving their houses in the meantime. While the NT Police have done a great job in finding people who were supposed to be self-isolating at home, it was often not until many others had been exposed to the virus


• lack of adequate resources for testing and contact tracing, with the burden for much of this work transferred from the responsible government agencies to Aboriginal organisations who were already overburdened with providing health and community services


• failure to seek additional health and logistical support from Australian Government agencies, including the Australian Defence Force which could for example have been used to stand up an additional isolation facility in Alice Springs and/or provide immediate transport of positive cases to the Centre for National Resilience


• failure to set up and share adequate data systems to keep track of cases by locality over time on a daily basis so the trend of what is happening is clear.


Immediate steps required


We are now calling upon your Government to impose an immediate lockdown in Central Australia to stop the movement of people and flatten the curve of new infections and hospitalisations.


It is vital to act now because we know that if allowed to continue to spread, this virus will seek out the vulnerable and the unvaccinated, whether Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal, across Central Australia and beyond.


A lockdown will allow time for:
• primary contacts to be tested, identified and where appropriate removed to supervised isolation in the Centre for National Resilience or regional isolation facilities as soon as these can be developed


• effective new oral treatments for COVID to be distributed across Central Australia and especially to remote communities


• a Rapid Response Team to be stood up for Alice Springs and remote communities in Central Australia with a particular focus on testing and reactive vaccination


• adequate numbers of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) and N95 masks to be distributed


• effective data systems to be established (and shared) so new cases and trends can be monitored in real time


• more people over the age of 18 to receive their crucial third or booster dose of a COVID vaccine and for children to be vaccinated


• further consultation with Land Councils and other organisations about how best to reduce movement into and between remote communities


• urgent consultation and planning with the Australian Government including the Australian Defence Force to ensure their support.


Chief Minister, despite the failures so far in Central Australia, it is not too late to act.


We urge you to ignore those who say it is too difficult, too late, or too expensive, or that the Omicron variant of COVID is a mild disease and that we need not worry about it.


There is a way forward, and we are counting on you to act urgently to protect the residents of Central Australia.


Josie Douglas A/g CEO, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress
Les Turner CEO, Central Land Council


John Paterson CEO, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory


Graeme Smith CEO, Lhere Artepe

The Central Land Council has called for an urgent lockdown of remote communities to save lives in the face of government inaction, complacency and underreporting of positive COVID cases out bush.

“We need a circuit breaker to slow down the out-of-control spread of the virus in our communities,” CLC chief executive Les Turner said.

“When our overworked health services which have been left to carry the can on the ground are telling us that the positive cases they are picking up are not reflected in the official figures we should all be very alarmed.”

“We all use the same hospitals and will be very much in it together when they become overwhelmed.”

“The Territory and Australian governments must now collaborate on enforcing a lockdown until the situation out bush is under control because lives are at stake,” Mr Turner said.

“We need the police and the Australian Defence Force to staff road blocks to restrict movement between communities and into regional centres, to provide residents with remote isolation facilities and a surge workforce to help test, trace, isolate, quarantine and vaccinate them.”

Mr Turner said a number of super spreader events have contributed to the explosion of positive cases, but Aboriginal people are taking action.

“Many of our constituents are now delaying funerals to slow the spread of COVID and we are supporting them by deferring the allocation of funeral funding assistance through the Aboriginals Benefit Account until the outbreak is under control.”

“Our people and their organisations are doing their bit. They now need both governments to stop burying their heads in the sand, face facts and back them,” Mr Turner said.

26 January 2022

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT) today called for urgent action from the Commonwealth Government in the face of a growing emergency in the COVID-19 response in the Northern Territory.

“Despite a lot of hard work and good collaboration on the part of government and Aboriginal community sector organisations, the haste towards living with COVID is pushing the health system, Aboriginal community service organisations and the communities they serve to the brink”, APO NT spokesperson, John Paterson said.

“We need urgent direct support from the Commonwealth Government”.

“The multiple outbreaks we are now seeing in remote communities and in our towns have been fuelled by a critical shortage of workforce, testing and logistical capacity that is overwhelming local health services and exhausted staff, leading to rapid, avoidable spread of the virus”.

“Critical shortages in availability of Rapid Antigen Tests is leaving Aboriginal health and community service organisations with insufficient capacity to test their own staff, let alone the needs of the community members they serve. The result is that infected individuals are not being identified and are spreading the virus undetected.

“The dispute between the NT Government and the Commonwealth over who is responsible for providing RAT tests must be resolved and sufficient stocks made available to communities free of charge without delay”.

“Without access to RAT tests, free of charge, vulnerable communities and community members remain exposed and unprotected”.

“The health system response is also facing critical transport, logistical and isolation capacity shortfalls, meaning that infected people are not removed into isolation rapidly or are being left to isolate in overcrowded and inadequate accommodation”.

“We need to see infected people rapidly moved into adequate, supported isolation accommodation”.

“Recent outbreaks across different custodial and other centres serving vulnerable populations such as dialysis accommodation and aged care, is further cause for concern and requires urgent action to improve access to testing, isolation and treatment”.

“A critical health workforce shortage is also slowing efforts to improve vaccination rates, with primary doses ongoing and the urgent need to provide boosters and the commencement of vaccinations of 5-11 year olds stretching vaccination teams”.

“A surge workforce is urgently needed to deal with the current crisis”.

“Concern is also being raised at the local level about a looming food security crisis”.

“The Commonwealth Government, including through the specialised capacities of the Australian Defence Force, must be requested to bolster the overstretched capacities of the NT Government and Aboriginal community controlled organisations”.

“This is the time, when the essential elements of the COVID response are faltering, to enlist the direct support of the Commonwealth and Defence Force to assist in critical areas of the response”.

“This can include transport and logistics, emergency isolation accommodation, and clinical support teams, including doctors and nurses etc. – that can make the difference between success or failure”.

“APO NT is only too aware that the high price to be paid for failing will fall heavily on our communities and those most at risk”, Mr Paterson concluded.

Media comment: John Paterson, 0418 904 727

The CLC has asked the NT water controller not to grant any more water licences in the Western Davenport water control district, south of Tennant Creek, until the district’s water allocation plan has been reviewed.

“We are very concerned about the risk of over-allocation of groundwater,” CLC chief executive Lesley Turner said.

Already granted licences in the district’s central plains management zone, including the controversial 40,000 mega litres-per-year licence for Singleton Station, take up a massive 51,104 mega litres of water per year.

“Two new licence applications from Neutral Junction Station, southwest of Singleton Station, and Murray Downs Station, southeast of Singleton, add up to 9,475 mega litres per year,” he said.

“If they are also granted, the 60,879 mega litres that are currently estimated to be available would be almost completely used up. This is an unacceptable risk.”

“We urge the water controller to decline the new water licence applications in the interest of the region’s traditional owners, native title holders and Aboriginal residents until a new plan based on a conservative estimate of water availability is in place.

“Their cultural connections and responsibilities for the plants, animals and sacred sites sustained by this groundwater are very much at stake, as are emerging small Aboriginal horticulture businesses.”

The district’s water allocation plan rates the risk of over-allocation as extreme and states that even if water allocation is staged and adaptive management plans are used the risk will remain high.

The expert panel that recently reviewed the water controller’s decision to grant the unprecedented Singleton Station water licence echoed these concerns.

It recommended a review of water availability estimates and said such a review “may result in a reduction in the ESY [estimated sustainable yield]”.

A week ago the water controller declared a new water allocation plan that extends the previous plan for 12 months, pending a water planning review.

“The water controller must also review water availability and certainty as part of this review and not kick the can down the road and leave the job to developers,” Mr Turner said.

The CLC represents traditional owners and native title holders on the water advisory committee which is expected to contribute to the next water allocation plan.

“This process will have no legitimacy without a full review of estimates of water availability backed by rigorous testing and data, rather than the guesswork on which the current plan is based,” Mr Turner said.

“Until further research into groundwater availability has been carried out no further licences must be granted.”

14 December 2021

Central Land Council chief executive officer Lesley Turner welcomes the appointment of Tony McAvoy SC, Australia’s first Aboriginal senior counsel, as the Territory’s treaty commissioner.

“Mr McAvoy is an inspired choice to progress an NT treaty,” he said.

“His work as co-senior counsel with the Royal Commission into Youth Detention in the NT has given him an excellent insight into the barriers that are stacked against Aboriginal Territorians from a very young age.

“He understands the need for a fundamentally different approach to child protection as it relates to our children, who are still being imprisoned at record rates,” Mr Turner said.

“A lifetime of working in the legal and government sectors as a Wirdi man have prepared him for settling the unfinished business between our peoples and the NT Government.”

Appointed senior counsel in 2015, Mr McAvoy has developed a strong native title practice and has successfully appeared for claimants in several land claims.

He has significant experience in the areas of administrative law, human rights and discrimination law, coronial inquests, criminal law and environmental law, having acted as Commissioner of the NSW Land and Environment Court.

Mr McAvoy also co-chairs the Indigenous Legal Issues Committee of the Law Council.

“I can think of no-one better to take the treaty forward and wish him every success,” Mr Turner said.

8 December 2021

The Australian Parliament has taken a big first step towards greater Aboriginal control over the 1.3 billion dollar Aboriginals Benefit Account, following a decades-long campaign by Aboriginal Territorians and their elected representatives.

The passing of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment (Economic Empowerment) Bill 2021 means that, for the first time, an Aboriginal-controlled body will make decisions about the ABA, which distributes the equivalents of royalties generated by mining on Aboriginal land in the NT.

“The ABA funds were always intended to benefit our people and it’s high time that they get to decide how they want to drive their own development with this income,” Central Land Council chief executive Lesley Turner said.

Since the inception of the land rights act in 1976, federal Aboriginal affairs ministers have been free to take or leave the advice of an ABA advisory committee made up of elected members from the four NT land councils.

Many of them did just that, with former ministers Mal Brough and Nigel Scullion two notable examples.

“I commend the current Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, for breaking with this tradition and for also supporting the removal of Howard era amendments of the land rights act that were designed undermine the land councils,” Mr Turner said.

“We strongly opposed the devolution of land council functions following the NT Emergency Response, and while the provision has proven ineffective we’re glad to see the back of it.”

A new NT-based commonwealth corporate entity, the NT Aboriginal Investment Corporation, will make decisions about ABA grants and investments when it has been established.

Between now and next June, the corporation’s interim board will meet, hire an acting chief executive, form an investment committee and set up the corporation.

It will have a 12-member board comprising two elected representatives from each of the NT’s land councils, two independent directors appointed by the board and two independent directors appointed by the Australian Government.

It will receive $500 million, roughly half of the current balance of the ABA, plus $60 million annually for the first three years of its operation.

 “We look forward to the corporation getting off to a strong start and, in time, assuming control over the remaining funds in the ABA, which can now be invested strategically,” Mr Turner said.

1 December 2021

The Central Land Council is exploring all legal avenues to challenge the Northern Territory Government’s decision to uphold the largest allocation of groundwater ever gifted to a private company in the NT.


“We are alarmed and appalled at the lack of procedural fairness it has afforded the traditional landowners and have no confidence in its decision,” CLC chief executive Les Turner said.


“The government can only rebuild trust if it scraps the licence and starts from scratch, doing a full public assessment of the potential impacts, as its own review panel proposed.”


“We are getting legal advice about our options. The licence is simply too big, too risky and threatens our sacred sites – and the review panel agrees.”
Mr Turner said the decision shows that the government only pays lip service to Aboriginal cultural values.


“The government leaves the company to identify how much water there is, to assess and monitor the impact of the licence on our water sites, such as soakages, trees and dreaming tracks.


“It has abrogated its responsibility to protect our sites and country and handballed it to Fortune Agribusiness.
“As one of our council members reminded no fewer than three NT ministers at our recent council meeting in Tennant Creek: this is not terra nullius – empty land.
“It is rich in important sites that are at risk if the company takes the water it has been so irresponsibly gifted – and again, the review panel agrees.”


The Northern Territory Government tailored guidelines for Fortune Agribusiness, allowing the company to destroy almost a third of groundwater-dependent ecosystems, many of them home to important sites.


“These guidelines only apply to the Western Davenport water control district and fly in the face of the protections for groundwater-dependent ecosystems in the district’s water allocation plan,” Mr Turner said.


“These guidelines were developed to meet the needs of Fortune Agribusiness,” Mr Turner said.


“The government’s decision to uphold the full licence reflects a development-at-any-cost approach that bush voters simply won’t tolerate.”


The CLC submitted expert anthropological and hydrogeological advice to the Singleton licence review panel.
It demonstrated, and the review panel agreed, that the water controller failed to take into account both the flimsiness of the data on which the Western Davenport water allocation plan is based and the existential threat the water licence poses to more than forty sacred sites in the region.
16 November 2021

The Central Land Council supports the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT’s demand to be consulted by the NT Government and for accurate COVID vaccination statistics.


“We call on the NT Government to use the Commonwealth’s reliable vaccination numbers so we can have a bit more confidence that the NT’s opening-up plans don’t put the lives of remote community residents at risk,” CLC chief executive Les Turner said.


“The NT’s vaccination statistics are inflated and lack credibility.


“The real vaccination numbers are at least 10 per cent lower than the NT Government claims. It must stop the spin and get with the program.”


Mr Turner said the government must stop making announcements about the pandemic without first consulting with Aboriginal medical services.


“This is not just policy on the run – it’s policy about us, but without us.


“We will no longer tolerate this pattern of the NT Government ignoring the views of Aboriginal people and their representatives as soon as it gets pressure from industry – in this case tourism and hospitality – or not even seeking their views in the first place.”

In Harold Furber the Central Land Council has lost a former assistant director and Alice Springs has lost a leader of great passion and strong convictions.

Mr Furber was born in Alice Springs in 1952 and in 1957 was taken from his mother Emily to the Croker Island Methodist Mission, along with his younger sister Trish, when he was still only four years old. During his early years on Croker, Trish was adopted by a couple from Queensland. Other future leaders such as the late Tracker Tilmouth became his surrogate family.

He first left the island to attend Darwin High School, returning to Croker for the school holidays until he was sixteen years old. Later, he did an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker in Adelaide. He went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma in Social Work, the latter at what is now the University of South Australia.

A talented footy player, he rubbed shoulders with the great players of his day at the North Adelaide Football Club in the early 1970s. During the off season he also played for the Buffaloes in Darwin. After he found his way back to his Arrernte family in Central Australia, he made a name for himself at the Pioneers and Souths football clubs in Alice Springs.  

Determined to find his sister Trish, he signed up with a Queensland footy team, which gave him the opportunity to search for her. He eventually succeeded and was best man at her wedding in 1974.  

In the late 1970s he became one of the early employees of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress in Alice Springs. In 1991, when he was the director of the Yipirinya School, he decided to broaden his   education. With the help of an ATSIC scholarship he studied at the University of Canberra, graduating with a Batchelor of Arts (Public Administration).

Mr Furber became the CLC’s assistant director in 1994 and worked there in a variety of senior positions until 2005. He was very invested in the repatriation of cultural objects to their rightful owners and is one of the authors of the CLC’s oral history collection Every Hill Got A Story. His recollections about his experiences as a member of the land rights movement, the Stolen Generations and as a driving force behind many Aboriginal-controlled organisations around Alice Springs in the 1970s and 1980s make for compelling reading.

Organisations that have benefited from his energy and passion for more than three decades include the Tangentyere Council and Desert Knowledge Australia, where he was a deputy chair and board member. He was part of the committee that planned the Desert Knowledge Precinct and until recently served there as elder-in-residence. He also chaired the Desert People’s Centre (a joint venture of the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education and the Centre for Appropriate Technology) and was on the board of the Desert Knowledge Co-operative Research Centre.

Mr Furber also ran (unsuccessfully) as a Labor candidate for the  NT Legislative Assembly twice – first in 1990 in Greatorex, and then MacDonnell in 2001.   

Most recently, he advocated strongly for the establishment of a National Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Gallery at the Desert Knowledge Precinct. He was implacably opposed to the NT Government’s plans for a National Aboriginal Gallery at the ANZAC Oval.

Mr Furber passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family in Alice Springs on Friday. He is survived by his three children, Melanie and Patricia Marron and Declan Furber Gillick, and his sisters, Margaret Furber, Toni Arundel and Trish Kiessler. He will be deeply missed.

Grace Kemarre Robinya of Tangentyere Artists has won the $10,000 Vincent Lingiari Art Award for her painting Raining at Laramba.

Chosen by this year’s judge Hetti Perkins, Ms Robinya’s painting was one of 26 finalists responding powerfully to the award’s theme Ngawa, Ngapa, Kapi, Kwatja, Water.

Raining at Laramba depicts country around Napperby Station, where Ms Robinya and her husband worked and raised their family.

Ms Perkins said the work “stood out as an unequivocal, elegant and profound statement about kwatye. It captures the dramatic vistas of rain in desert country and conveys the transformative and life-giving power of water”.

Ms Robinya used to live in the Laramba community, on Napperby, where residents are still forced to drink water that contains three times the level of uranium considered safe.

Born in Ntaria in 1942, she is an accomplished figurative painter whose works frequently feature her signature clouds with sheets of rain.

Her vibrant works for Tangentyere Artists powerfully evoke important life events, locations and contemporary life in the Alice Springs Town camps, where she lives today.

Of her winning work, she said simply, “It’s always raining, summertime, when stockmen mustering. Makes those hills look blue in the north. Raining, raining, all the time raining. Clouds are coming.”

Her work has been included in 55 exhibitions, and she has been a finalist in five significant awards, including the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award.

The exhibition opening at the Tangentyere Artists Gallery in Alice Springs last night is the third collaboration between Desart, the Central Land Council and Tangentyere Artists since they launched inaugural Vincent Lingiari Art Award in 2016.

This year’s theme asked artists from across Central Australia to reflect on the significance of water for their collective survival on their country.

“The scandalous situation in Ms Robinya’s home community of Laramba illustrates perfectly why we have seen such a strong response to this year’s theme,” CLC chief executive Les Turner said.

Hetti Kemerre Perkins, curator, writer and daughter of the CLC’s first director Charlie Perkins, shortlisted 26 of a record number of 47 entries.

The award was co-curated by Ms Perkins and Marisa Maher, curator and assistant manager at the Iltja Ntjarra Many Hands Art Centre in Mparntwe/Alice Springs.

Ms Perkins said the artists’ response to the theme ranged from works that were overtly political, with their calls to stop fracking and memories of now destroyed landscapes and important sites and send an urgent message about the importance of water.

“The water underground and overhead, in soaks, rockholes and creeks is our lifeblood, an essential part of the ancient ecology that we are part of.

“This delicate balance cannot be tampered with and the NT and Australian governments need to sit up and take notice of the truth our people are telling them, and nowhere more clearly than in our art,” she said.

Congratulating the winner, Desart CEO Philip Watkins said “Grace’s work is evocative of all that brings joy with rain, its life giving force, and its cultural significance.

“Safe, clean water is a fundamental right, yet many communities continue to struggle for this.”

“All the artists’ works in this exhibition respond to the emergency and fight for water rights”, he said.

The members of the CLC voted for their favourite award entry during their August council meeting near Vincent Lingiari’s home community of Daguragu.

On Wednesday night, Timothea Palmer accepted the CLC Delegates’ Choice Award on behalf of her mother, Leah Leaman, from Vincent Lingiari’s granddaughter Rosie Smiler.

The painting of Ms Leaman, who works out of the community’s Karungkarni Art and Culture Centre, celebrates her love of fishing in rivers and waterholes, of wetland brolgas and bush flowers.

Her work Following the Waterways tells the story of a couple, “the last of their kind”, who “followed the waterways by foot all the way from here to the coast … with their beloved dogs, billycan, hook spear and rolled-up little calico swag, never getting lost.”

Desart member art centres and artists with strong links to the CLC region were eligible to enter in the Vincent Lingiari Art Award.

The exhibition runs until the 13 October and features a walk through gallery developed with Agency Projects at https://desart.com.au/vincent-lingiari-art-award/.

The award is supported by the Peter Kittle Motor Company and Newmont Australia.

It kicks off a festival of Aboriginal art and culture this week in Alice Springs, including Desart’s Photography Prize which opens this Thursday and celebrates its 10th anniversary.

9 September 2021

Media contacts: Elke Wiesmann, media@clc.org.au, 0417 877 579 and Carmel    Young, programmanager@desart.com.au, 0411 534 913

Desart, the Central Land Council and Tangentyere Artists are proud to present the third Vincent Lingiari Art Award on Wednesday, September 8.

The winner of this year’s $10,000 prize, chosen by art curator and writer Hetti Kemerre Perkins, will be announced at 5:30pm at the Tangentyere Artists Gallery in Alice Springs. 

The exhibition features paintings and sculptures by 26 finalists who have responded to the theme Ngawa, Ngapa, Kapi, Kwatja, Water, which reflects just some of the many languages of Central Australia.

As CLC chair Sammy Wilson has said, “water rights are the new land rights”, and with a record 47 entries this year’s theme has certainly resonated. 

“We chose the theme because without safe, secure and adequate sources of water the spiritual, cultural and physical survival of our constituents on their own land is under threat,” CLC chief executive Les Turner said.

“This year’s Vincent Lingiari Art Award highlights the campaign for Aboriginal water rights the Northern Territory land councils kicked off last year with their call for a safe drinking water act,” Desart chief executive Philip Watkins said.

The chair of Tangentyere and inaugural winner of the Vincent Lingiari Art Award, Marlene Rubuntja, said the award “gives Aboriginal artists the opportunity to work to themes that are important not only to us but to everyone. Water is life”.

Ms Perkins said the artists’ response to the theme covered a range of viewpoints, from overtly political works with their calls to stop fracking to the beauty of cultural stories as old as water itself. 

She co-curated the exhibition with curator and assistant manager of the Iltja Ntjarra Many Hands art centre, Marisa Maher.

“It’s great that despite the Sydney lockdown we are still able to work collaboratively on this important exhibition,” Ms Maher said.

The winner of the CLC delegates choice award, selected by the council members on Vincent Lingiari’s country, will also be presented by Mr Lingiari’s granddaughters on the night.

Tangentyere Artists’ COVID plan is in place, and those wishing to attend must register via https://vlaa2021.eventbrite.com.au.

The event will be live screened on Desart socials https://www.facebook.com/desart.inc, Insta: @desartinc.

Contacts:

Elke Wiesmann – Central Land Council  Elke.Wiesmann@clc.org.au 0417 877 579

Carmel Young – Desart Inc programmanager@desart.com.au   0411 534 913

Traditional owner representatives will only get 45 minutes to make their case against the massive Singleton Station water licence during a secretive review panel hearing and have been barred from listening to the other opponents and the proponents of the licence.

The public and the media are excluded from the hearing on Friday, 3 September, in Darwin which will review the controversial 40,000 megalitre-a-year, 30 year licence decision.

Fortune Agribusiness, the company that wants to use the water to grow export crops in the desert, and the government department that supported the grant of the licence will appear before the panel in secret, without any interested parties present.

“The public and the landowners are being kept in the dark about the most audacious attempt to give away a public resource to big business in the Territory’s history,” Central Land Council chief executive Lesley Turner said.

To make matters worse, the licence review is being rushed through before a review of the region’s water allocation plan that must conclude at the end of this year.

The existing plan rates the risk of changes to future estimates of water availability as ”extreme” and the new plan could include a much lower estimate of the amount of water available for Fortune Agribusiness’ and other development projects.

 “This hasty process illustrates everything that’s rotten about NT water policy,” Mr Turner said.

“We provided hundreds of pages of expert evidence about sacred sites threatened by the NT’s largest-ever water licence and about very concerning hydrogeological problems, but our lawyer gets less than an hour to present on highly complex issues and answer questions.”

The CLC’s request to listen to the presentations from other applicants has also been declined.

“This is even though a recent four-hour review hearing about two water licences at Larrimah allowed applicants to be present for the entire hearing. What are they trying to hide about Singleton?”

The other applicants to the Singleton licence review panel hearing, the Centrefarm Aboriginal Horticulture, the Environment Centre NT and the Arid Land Environment Centre, also have just 45 minutes each to present new information and respond to questions.

In the case of the Larrimah water licence decisions the report from the review panel to the Environment Minister Eva Lawler was kept secret.

“We fully expect that the panel’s report about Singleton will meet the same fate but we appeal to her to do the right thing and make the report publicly available,” said Mr Turner.

One of the most prominent workers who walked off Wave Hill Station in 1966 and helped spark the land rights movement has passed away – two days after the 55th anniversary of the historic strike.

“Cullum Wave Hill was a young man when he joined the strike,” Central Land Council chair Sammy Wilson said.

“He was one of the heroes of the land rights struggle and his sudden death at 85 years of age has left us all heartbroken.”

The CLC delegates, meeting at Mr Wave Hill’s home town of Kalkaringi, observed a minute’s silence at the news of his passing.

“He represented his community on our council for decades and came to greet us all at our meeting only yesterday,” Mr Wilson said.

“We all looked up to him and were hoping he would join us again this afternoon.”

CLC chief executive Lesley Turner said Mr Wave Hill will be missed deeply.

“As a CLC delegate, he was there for all the big milestones of our history. He was passionate about protecting his country and losing him is too sad for words,” Mr Turner said.

“Only last September, he and the other families of striking Wave Hill Station workers celebrated the recognition of their native title rights at Jinbarak, the old station homestead.”

The station was the site of the Wave Hill Walk Off, the strike led by Gurindji stockman Vincent Lingiari that marks the beginning of the land rights movement.

An anthropological survey commissioned by the Central Land Council has revealed that the drawdown area of the Northern Territory’s largest water licence is home to dozens of groundwater-dependent sacred sites that the licence puts at great risk.

The country around Singleton Station, where the NT Government plans to gift Fortune Agriculture 40,000 mega litres of water per year for 30 years to grow export crops, is rich in songlines and Aboriginal cultural sites that depend on underground water for their very survival.

More than 80 traditional owners, native title holders and affected remote community residents spent much of June visiting the region south of Tennant Creek with independent anthropologist Susan Dale Donaldson and identified 29 different groundwater-dependent sacred sites and related dreaming tracks that would be threatened by the massive water licence. 

The named sites include waterholes, soakages, springs, and sacred trees across the Singleton and Neutral Junction stations and the Warrabri and Iliyarne Aboriginal land trusts.

“Our people are responsible for the protection of the places that embody the Dreaming. Damaging these sites that represent their deceased ancestors threatens their spiritual wellbeing and their vital cultural connection to their country,” CLC chief executive Les Turner said.

“That’s why we urge the NT water security minister to take the findings of the survey very seriously as she reviews the controversial water licence decision.”

The survey participants worry desperately about how the sheer scale of the planned water extraction will affect their rights to hunt and collect bush foods and medicine, develop their country and teach their next generations.

“There is a lot of Ngappa Wirnkarna (Rain Dreaming) around the Singleton area. Karlu Karlu (the Devils Marbles), Wakurlpu, Warlaparnpa – all these places were made by Nappa Wirnkarra, all these places will be affected if there is no water,” traditional owner Michael Jones said.

“The story will be there, still alive, the song will be there and still be sung, but we will be sad when we go to that place all dead. The story will be weaker for younger people because the places will be ruined.

“We take them to soakages that are gone and to country that is sick. We have lost other soakages when they put in bores.”

Although the region’s water allocation plan highlights the lack of knowledge about Aboriginal cultural values in the drawdown area as an “extreme” risk, the licence conditions the NT imposed on the company don’t include the need to protect Aboriginal cultural sites.

Sacred site clearance work has only been carried out around the 3,500 hectare area on the cattle station that would be cleared for export crops, but the drawdown area that would be impacted by the unprecedented volume of the water extraction is five times that size.

Mr Turner said the CLC commissioned the survey of the drawdown area because the NT failed to carry out a baseline assessment of cultural values on which the company would base its so-called adaptive management plan.

“We had absolutely no confidence that this critically important survey work would be done in time and to a rigorous standard because the government is clearly only paying lip service to the rights and interests of remote community residents and traditional owners,” he said.

“Remember, the decision to grant the licence is not based on solid scientific data but on mere guesswork and if the modelling turns out to be even slightly wrong, those sites are in mortal danger.

“If there is even a small drop in the water table, our soakages will disappear for good, our springs will dry up and our animals will die along with our trees.”

“By the time we see any warning signs, by the time stands of sacred trees that are part of a songline begin to look sick, it is already be too late because the changes are irreversible,” said Mr Turner.

Survey participants also reported feeling disempowered by the water licence decision, with David Curtis saying that extracting water from the desert “makes no sense. We can’t be certain it can be recharged and rain is not as reliable as it used to be”.

“I can’t believe the government did this. Aboriginal people should have control over water, it is part of our country. We thought we had land rights but what good is land without water?” Mr Curtis said.

Maureen O’Keefe, who grew up in the drawdown area, told Ms Dale Donaldson: “We know what’s about to happen, there is about to be a water crisis. We have to stop it before it happens.”

12 August 2021

For a summary of the survey report please go to https://www.clc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Singleton-Station-Water-Licence-Aboriginal-Cultural-Values-Assessment.pdf and contact us for images.

The Central Land Council executive insists that the NT Government withdraw amendments scheduled for debate today which threaten traditional owner rights in jointly managed NT parks and lower the bar for the NT’s already poor water regulations even further.

Meeting in Alice Springs today, the executive intervened after the government repeatedly ignored calls to scrap the controversial amendments.

“They are clearly not listening to us, they are being very sneaky and they are only paying lip service to our land and water rights,” said CLC chair Sammy Wilson.

“This government is a threat to joint management and the water reforms we have been crying out for.”

CLC chief executive Lesley Turner said the amendments to the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act are so badly written that they threaten joint management of 20 national parks, such as Watarrka/Kings Canyon and the Iytwelepenty/Davenport Ranges National Park that the traditional owners have leased to the government for 99 years.

“We are very concerned that the amendments, which give the government a new power to authorise development on parks without needing the consent of traditional owners, could breach the leases for jointly managed parks and allow the owners to start a process of terminating them.”

“It’s scandalous that the government admitted to us that there are problems with its controversial amendments but said that they’ll pass them regardless and talk to us later about how to fix them,” he said.

“That’s what you get when you try to pass complicated legislation quickly and don’t have a scrutiny committee or any process of public consultation, accountability and transparency.”

Mr Turner also deplored the tabling of amendments to the Water Act designed to further reduce the already weak protections of our most precious resource.

“The government pretends it is merely tidying up the legislation but its real aim is to give more power to the water controller who is part of the department that is talking to developers about how they can get water licences.

“The amendments will allow the water controller to grant licences that bypass the strict conditions to protect water and cultural values we desperately need.

“We want to reform the Water Act first to remove clear conflicts of interest, for example by making the office of the water controller an independent body,” he said.

MEDIA CONTACT: Sasha Pavey | 0488 984 885| media@clc.org.au

The Central Land Council today welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of more than $1 billion in new measures committed over the next five years towards Closing the Gap outcomes.

CLC chief executive Lesley Turner said that the new funding is a good start.

“This is a welcome step forward to improve the lives of Aboriginal people and communities through a whole-of-government approach in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled partners,” Mr Turner said. 

The first implementation plan outlines how the governments will meet 17 new targets under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap after the previous scheme failed.

“We need these updates to keep everyone accountable. We can’t afford another fail on the governments’ report card.” 

The funding injection includes a new redress scheme for Stolen Generations survivors in the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay Territory.

“We’re pleased to see the Commonwealth take responsibility for the historic injustices that continue to reverberate through families and communities today. This is an important and long overdue step towards meaningful reconciliation,” Mr Turner said.

“We also welcome the additional funds for Aboriginal community controlled health organisations. Aboriginal health services have demonstrated their critical role throughout this pandemic. Further investment is the best way to ensure improved health outcomes for our people.”

The CLC will continue to work with governments and the Coalition of Peaks to ensure that Australia delivers all its targets under the Closing the Gap agreement.

MEDIA CONTACT: Sasha Pavey | 0488 984 885| media@clc.org.au


The Central Land Council has urged the NT Government to withdraw a raft of controversial legislative amendments designed to further undermine the already weak protections of the Territory’s water.


The council is seeking the withdrawal of the proposed Territory Economic Reconstruction Committee (TERC) Omnibus Bill and the Environmental Law Bills which are due to be tabled at the August sittings of the Legislative Assembly and would significantly amend the NT Water Act 1992.


“The government must withdraw all water-related amendments until it has released a comprehensive water reform strategy for public scrutiny,” CLC chief executive Lesley Turner said.


The CLC is concerned the proposed changes fast track development but neglect urgently needed reforms to protect remote community drinking water, create a genuinely independent water regulator and overhaul water planning processes to make them more transparent.


“We are very concerned that the proposed amendments will further lower the bar for water licence approvals and shift ministerial oversight to unelected public servants,” Mr Turner said.


“The changes will make it easier for developers and speculators to get 30-year groundwater licences for free and for the responsible minister to shift accountability for decisions to the unelected water controller.”


The CLC has written to the Chief Minister to protest about the lack of public consultation about the proposed changes and the inadequate information about the bills it has received since it met with senior government staffers and the water controller in early June.


“Staff of the Department of Environment assured us that no further legislative reform would proceed without consultation,” Mr Turner said.
“We are appalled to find more substantive amendments to the Water Act published on the department’s website, without notice, just weeks later.


“Having failed to properly inform traditional landowners and invite public comment the government now seems intent on preventing us all from considering the wide-ranging implications of the proposed legislation,” Mr Turner said.


“What happened to the chief minister’s commitment to transparent government?”


Under the current Water Act the water minister must identify special circumstances, for example that the scientific understanding of a water resource is well established and certain, before granting licences for more than 10 years.


MEDIA CONTACT: Sasha Pavey | 0488 984 885| media@clc.org.au

Traditional owners of the Yeperenye/Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature Park near Alice Springs will celebrate the official opening of their new public walking and cycling trail between Anthwerrke (Emily Gap) and Atherrke (Jessie Gap) on Wednesday, 28th July.

Grant Wallace on his first day on the job during the construction of the trail. Photo: Chloe Erlich.

A smoking ceremony and dance at Anthwerrke [UN-door-kwa] at 10.30 am will be followed by an opportunity to experience the trail to Atherke [[ah-TER-ka] with families from the Amoonguna and Santa Teresa communities and lunch.

The $364,000 trail is the biggest investment in public infrastructure by any Aboriginal group in Central Australia.

The traditional owners used the rent income they get for the jointly managed park to pay for the trail because they want to raise awareness of the cultural significance of the area and create employment in trail design, construction and tourism.

More than 30 Aboriginal workers built the 7.2 kilometre trail by hand, receiving one-the-job training by local company Tricky Tracks.

Cultural supervisors were on site during the construction to ensure important sites were respected and protected.

Traditional owners also helped to design the trail which follows the contours of the East MacDonnell Ranges and will feature interpretive signage at the trail heads.

“I’m feeling really proud of this trail launch. We waited six years to do it and now it’s finally here. The families are really excited,” traditional owner Lynette Ellis said.

“Tourists should experience the East MacDonnell Ranges as well as the West Macs,” Grant Wallace, from Amoonguna, said.

Mr Wallace is a member of the traditional owner group that planned and funded the project with the help of the CLC’s community development program.

He was one of the workers who built the trail using hand tools, which minimises erosion.

“It has been good learning new skills and being able to work hard and share this sacred place with everyone,” said Mr Wallace.

“I’m looking forward to using these skills for future trail work around here.”

Wheelchair users can access the dual usage trail at both the Emily Gap and Jessie Gap ends and there is seating at rest stops.

“It’s so the old people and those who aren’t mobile can also come to the site,” Ms Ellis said.

The park is home to significant dreamings, the place where the three caterpillar songlines Yeperenye [Yep-ah-RIN-ya], Ntyarlke [n-CHAYL-ka] and Utnerrengatye [OOT-ner-ung-utch] intersect.

“The trail is an act of generosity by the traditional owners that will not only benefit local tourism, but also create employment on country,” said Central Land Council chief executive Lesley Turner.

“They have so much more to teach us all about their country and visitors are crying out for those experiences.

“We will continue to support traditional owners who wish to invest their collective income in sustainable projects,” he said.

The NT Parks and Wildlife Services will provide the interpretive signage and repair and maintain the trail.

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
CENTRAL LAND COUNCIL and EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF TOWNSHIP LEASING
TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS FOR MUTITJULU

Due to the current Covid-19 outbreak in the Northern Territory, a number of travel restrictions are in place for those wishing to enter or travel through communities in Central Australia, including Mutitjulu.

Anyone located within the Alice Springs lockdown area, as designated by the Northern Territory Government’s Chief Health Officer (CHO), is prohibited from leaving this area until 1pm on 3 July 2021 unless advised otherwise by the CHO. Travelling to Mutitjulu from this area is therefore prohibited.

Travel to Mutitjulu is also prohibited for anyone located within other lockdown areas or Covid-19 hotspots as designated by the CHO until such a time as that declaration is removed.

Any essential workers (as defined by the Northern Territory Government) wishing to travel to Mutitjulu from a designated lockdown area or hotspot are advised to contact the Northern Territory Government’s Coronavirus Lockdown Advice Hotline at 1800 193 111 to ensure they meet the essential worker requirements and have obtained the relevant paper work prior to travelling.

Mutitjulu residents who are currently in the designated lockdown area and unable to return home during this period are advised to contact the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress on (08) 8951 4400 or Tangentyere Council on 08 8951 4222.

To protect the Central Australian communities, the Central Land Council (CLC) has also suspended all permits for Aboriginal Land outside of the current lockdown area with the exception of essential workers. Essential workers wishing to travel to Mutitjulu should contact the Northern Territory Government’s Northern Territory Government’s Coronavirus Lockdown Advice Hotline at 1800 193 111 prior to travelling.

Anyone currently in, or planning to travel to, Kata Tjuta National Park must check the latest Northern Territory Government travel restrictions and follow the advice provided by the CHO. Parks Australia will be checking the movements of everyone entering the Park. You will not be allowed to enter if you have travelled through an identified lockdown area or hotspot.

Any visitors to Kata Tjuta National Park who have been in a lockdown area or hotspot within the identified periods and are staying at the Ayers Rock Resort should contact the Resort on 08 8957 7417 to arrange appropriate isolation and testing as required by the CHO.

Please re-consider your need to travel to Aboriginal Land during this time. Protecting our community remains the responsibility of everyone, and we ask that you respect the wishes of our Aboriginal communities during this difficult period.

For further information on the current travel restrictions in place for Mutitjulu please contact the:

For the most up to date information and frequently asked questions about the Alice Springs lockdown and current Covid-19 exposure sites, visit https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/

For current information about COVID-19 Coronavirus:
Coronavirus Health Information Line
1800 020 080
Call for information on Coronavirus COVID-19. Operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


NT COVID-19 Hotline
1800 490 484
Coronavirus (COVID-19) (nt.gov.au)
For information on COVID-19 in the Territory call the hotline.


NT Coronavirus Lockdown Advice Hotline
1800 193 111
For information on lockdown arrangements call the hotline.


Australian Government Department of Health
https://www.health.gov.au/
Latest news, alerts and situation status within Australia. Protection advice and fact sheets.


SecureNT
https://securent.nt.gov.au/
Latest news, alerts, situation status and advice relevant to the Northern Territory. Health message recordings in Aboriginal languages.


World Health Organisation (WHO)
https://www.who.int/
Public advice for personal and organisational protection, global situation updates.

Office of Township Leasing
Pennie Weedon
1800 152 259
https://www.otl.gov.au

NIAA Media Contact
0418 158 629
niaa.gov.au/news-centre
https://www.indigenous.gov.au/news-and-media

The Central Land Council is hosting the largest gathering of directors of native title holder corporations in Central Australia this week.

The Prescribed Bodies Corporate Regional Forum at the Ross River Resort near Alice Springs, better known as PBC Camp, aims to strengthen the capacity of around 100 directors to run more than 30 corporations.

The event will kick off tomorrow with the launch and trial of six local Aboriginal language recordings of the CLC’s Native Title Story booklet.

The audio versions of the educational resource aim to overcome literacy and language barriers to understanding one of the most complex pieces of legislation in Australia, the Native Title Act.

“This is the first time something like this has been done in our region,” CLC chief executive Lesley Turner said.

“Having information in local languages on USB sticks will help native title holders when they negotiate about developments such as mining and horticulture on cattle stations and manage land use agreements,” he said.

The booklet on which the translations are based was presented at the first PBC Camp in 2019.

Jackie Mahoney with the Native Title Story booklet at PBC Camp 2019

It explains key native title concepts and compares them with land rights, two very different laws people frequently confuse.

It has attracted praise around the nation and was adapted by organisations such as the Kimberley Land Council.

The CLC is seeking funding to develop a phone app with language translations to help more native title holders to find out about their legal rights and obligations in their languages.

“It’s about empowering Aboriginal people to take part in decisions about their country and cutting through the legalese,” the CLC’s manager of native title, Francine McCarthy, said.

CLC staff and consultants will be supported by staff of the National Native Title Council, the National Indigenous Australians Agency and the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations.

A prescribed body corporate is an Aboriginal corporation that manages the native title rights and interests on behalf of native title holders.

MEDIA CONTACT: Elke Wiesmann | mobile: 0417 877 579 media@clc.org.au

The members and staff of the Central Land Council farewell land rights leader John ‘Christo’ Christopherson, who was laid to rest in Darwin today.  

“Christo was much loved and admired by so many, for his intellect and clear-sighted and unceasing advocacy for our land and water rights on the national and international stage,” CLC chief executive Lesley Turner said.  

“His career, from apprentice electrician to regional manager of the Aboriginal Development Commission and first manager of the first men’s health clinic at the Danila Dilba health service, continue to inspire, and so does his commitment to a healthy environment and climate.”  

Mr Christopherson was the longest-serving member of the Northern Land Council, where he worked for many years as executive member and twice served as deputy chair.  

“He was a passionate advocate for our water rights and sustainable development, targeting commercial fishing and fracking alike,” said Mr Turner.  

“We owe him a debt of gratitude for the role he played in the lead-up to the High Court Blue Mud Bay decision which recognised that Aboriginal rights extend between the high and low water mark adjoining Aboriginal land.”    

On his ancestral lands, the Cobourg Peninsula, he provided leadership on the board of the region’s sanctuary and marine park.  

He served on the Cobourg Fisheries Management Advisory Committee and was instrumental in the development of the Cobourg Marine Park Plan of Management.  

He was also a member of the National Federation of Land Councils, Indigenous Protected Areas National Working Group, as well as serving as Vice President of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples.  

In 1988, Mr Christopherson joined CLC members and staff as they embarked on a 11,000 kilometre journey to the anti-Bicentenary march in Sydney.  

His heart-felt account of the growing convoy in Land Rights News describes how buses carried an estimated 1,000 people from the Kimberley, Darwin, Katherine, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs to Sydney’s La Perouse.  

“Our thoughts are with his mother and siblings, his nine children and many nephews, nieces and grandchildren,” Mr Turner said. 

Desart and the Central Land Council are inviting Aboriginal artists to submit works for the third Vincent Lingiari Art Award that speak to the theme Ngawa, Ngapa, Kapi, Kwatja, Water.

The $10,000 award celebrates the 55th anniversary of the Wave Hill Walk Off, when Vincent Lingiari led striking station workers to camp near Wattie Creek in the Northern Territory, by accepting works that respond to the critical importance of water for the continued survival of Aboriginal peoples.

“We have chosen this year’s theme to spread the word that water rights are land rights,” CLC chair Sammy Wilson said.

 “The government gave us some of our land back but not the water. Water is the new land rights.”

“This year’s Vincent Lingiari Art Award highlights the campaign for Aboriginal water rights the NT land councils kicked off last year with their call for a safe drinking water act,” Desart chief executive Philip Watkins said.

“The award has always been unashamedly political and this year it will raise awareness of our struggle against massive water theft that threatens the survival of desert plants, animals and people and for safe drinking water for our remote communities,” he said.

Water is critical to the social, cultural, economic and political identity of Aboriginal people in the CLC region.

“Over almost half a century the CLC has won back significant areas of land on behalf of traditional Aboriginal land owners, but without safe, secure and adequate sources of water their very survival on this land is under threat,” CLC chief executive Lesley Turner said.

“Poor water quality, water shortages, water use in fracking and agribusiness have a detrimental impact on the health and well-being of our people, their country and cultures.”

 He said the award exhibition from 8 September 2021 at the Tangentyere Artists Gallery in Alice Springs will send an urgent message not to take water for granted in a world where water rights are shaping up as a new frontier.

Artists from the CLC region (the southern half of the NT) and art centres affiliated with Desart have until 30 June to submit works that explore their connection with their land and water.

In addition to the main award, CLC members will choose the winner of the Delegates Choice Award when they meet from 24 to 26 August at Mr Lingiari’s home of Kalkaringi, ahead of the 55th Freedom Day celebration at the community.

The CLC and Desart established the Vincent Lingiari Art Award in 2016 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic Wave Hill Walk Off and the 40th anniversary of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (NT) 1976.

In 2019 the award theme Our Country – True Story reflected on the call of the Uluru Statement from the Heart for truth-telling.

The Aboriginal land rights and contemporary Aboriginal art movements share the same roots. They evolved in the NT at the same time, drew strength from the same sources and have significantly contributed to Australia’s modern national identity.

The award is made possible through the generous support from the Peter Kittle Motor Company and Newmont Goldcorp.10 May 2021Media contacts:

Elke Wiesmann, media@clc.org.au, 0417 877 579 and

Carmel Young, programmanager@desart.com.au, 0411 534 913

The traditional owners of the Jinka and Jervois cattle stations, 340 kilometres northeast of Alice Springs near the Queensland border, will celebrate the recognition of their native title rights tomorrow.

Justice Charlesworth will hand down a non-exclusive native title consent determination over an area of almost 5,000 square kilometres during a Federal Court sitting in the Bonya community at 11 am.

The determination area covers the two pastoral leases, a disused stock route that cuts them in half and a stock reserve, and was home to copper and silver mining from the 1920s onwards.

The stock route crosses many cultural and historical places of significance to Aboriginal people, including sacred hills which form part of the Two Eaglehawks Dreaming.

The native title holders belong to nine land holding groups and their families have worked on the stations and mines.

Native title holder Henry Oliver said the determination means he will be able to go hunting on the land like he used to with his mother.

“She was born on that country, and my stepfather was a stockman for the station,” Mr Oliver said.

The native title claim, which the Central Land Council lodged in 2018 in response to renewed mining interest on the stations, was the first claim concerning the grant of a stock route to a pastoralist that the current Northern Territory Government chose to contest in court.

The government argued that only extinguishing or regulating native title should trigger the protections of the Native Title Act, and that therefore it did not need native title holder consent before it granted the Jervois pastoral lease over the stock route in February 2017.

Its legal argument applied equally to the grant of mineral titles as it did to stock routes.

However, on the eve of the Federal Court hearing, the government withdrew its argument and the court ruled in March 2020 that the pastoral lease over the stock route is invalid.

This means the pastoralist cannot interfere with any legal activities the native title holders undertake on the 60 kilometre-long stock route.

“The court ruled in the native title holders’ favour, but if the government had succeeded with its argument there would have been no more right to negotiate about mining on pastoral leases,” CLC chief executive Lesley Turner said.

“It goes to show that it is in the best interests of all parties for development on pastoral leases to only occur with the support and consent of native title holders.

“An Indigenous Land Use Agreement is the gold standard for any development on pastoral leases and the government should have required the pastoralist to negotiate an ILUA with the native title holders,” he said.

KGL Resources, which in 2011 acquired the Jervois Base Metal Project, a proposed open-cut copper and silver mine in the Jervois Range, negotiated an ILUA with the native title holders in 2016, two years before the CLC lodged the native title claim.

The government approved the proposed $200 million mine in January.

Francine McCarthy, the CLC’s manager of native title, said the determination recognises the rights of the native title holders from the Ankerente [Ung-GRR-een-ta], Arntinarre [Un-DEEN-are-a]]; Arraperre [ARR-a-ba-ra], Artwele [ART-tool-a], Atnwarle [AT-nwar-la], Ilparle [ILL-par-la], Immarkwe [IMM-ark-wa], Ltye [ILL-tcha] and Thipatherre [DIP-a-durra] estate groups to hunt, gather and teach and to conduct cultural activities and ceremonies in the area.

“It gives them the right to negotiate exploration and mining agreements, but unlike on Aboriginal land, they have no veto right,” she said.

The native title holders will exercise their rights through their prescribed body corporate, the Ingkekure [Ingk-A-koor,] Aboriginal Corporation, which takes its name from the Eastern Arrernte word for eagle claw.

The Central Land Council is applying for a review of the unprecedented decision to gift a private company 40,000 megalitres of finite water reserves each year for three decades to grow fruit and vegetables in the desert, largely for export.

In addition to a review under the Northern Territory’s Water Act, the CLC is also seeking an independent peer review of the ‘adaptive management’ plan the Northern Territory Government has asked the company, Fortune Agribusiness, to complete.

The CLC has asked the government to halt all activity in the meantime to ensure the integrity of the the review process.

“We call on the government to immediately stop the native vegetation clearance and non-pastoral use permits for the company, as well as the environmental impact assessment,” CLC chief executive Lesley Turner said.

Meeting in Tennant Creek, an hour’s drive north of Singleton Station, the CLC delegates considered independent hydrogeological advice which confirmed that neither the government’s water license decision nor its approach to managing it come close to addressing the concerns of the area’s native title holders and affected community residents.

“We have received independent expert advice that the license decision does nothing to assuage the grave concerns these groups have raised,” said Mr Turner.

“Our constituents now want us to pursue all avenues for objection because too little is known about how the decision will affect community drinking water for decades to come, including the impact on native plants, animals and sacred sites.”

“There is not enough data to address concerns of constituents or independent scientists” said Mr Turner.

“Frankly, they have no faith in the government’s capacity to manage the license in the public interest and are concerned that its decision is based on little more than guesswork.”

Independent hydrogeologist Dr Ryan Vogwill said the government’s water resource and impact assessment were “simplistic, based on inadequate investigations and very little site-specific data”.

Dr Vogwill said the “rushed approval process” for the Singleton allocation fell “well short of” what would be required for far smaller water allocation decisions in his home state of Western Australia, a world leader in groundwater management.

He found a major flaw of the allocation planning and impact assessment is that it ignores the most culturally and ecologically important places, such as numerous wetlands, springs and soaks.

He questioned whether the NT Government’s ‘adaptive management’ approach will be able to deal with its “insufficient understanding of impact risk”.

“It is fraught with problems and there have been serious issues in this context in other jurisdictions,” he warned.

“Adaptive management needs a really strong understanding of the water resource, biodiversity/cultural values and ground water dependent ecosystems impact potential to be successful, particularly in the long term.“This project does not currently have this.” 

Dr Vogwill said the government lacks the five to 10 years of data that would be required to “understand groundwater-environment-cultural linkages in sufficient detail to develop strong management criteria”.

Negative environmental impacts may not show up for a decade or more, “but by then it will be difficult to restrict/reduce the project’s water allocation as approval for the full licence will occur in a similar timeframe”.

Mr Turner said the only credible response to this devastating advice is to seek an independent peer review of Fortune Agribusiness’ ‘adaptive management’ plan. “This government has promised to be transparent, so we expect it to publish all the information independent scientists need to do their job,” he said.

Mr Turner said that without an independent review, the government would be putting the company in charge of managing a precious and finite public resource without scrutiny and transparency.

“We will not let them put the fox in charge of the hen house,” he said. 

Read a summary of Dr Vogwill’s advice

Former New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council CEO Lesley Turner will lead the Central Land Council for the next six months, while it embarks on a national recruitment campaign for a new chief executive officer.

Mr Turner, an Arrernte man from Alice Springs, will join the CLC after Easter for a handover with current CEO Joe Martin-Jard.

Mr Turner was a senior executive in the Commonwealth public service for many years before joining the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council in 2007.

He was appointed CEO of the land council in 2013.   During his term as NSW Aboriginal Land Council CEO he restructured the organisation with a focus on economic development and strengthening relationships with constituents and governments.

Mr Turner led the NSW Aboriginal Legal Service between 2017 and 2019.   His role as acting CEO of the CLC will begin on 23 April and the recruitment of a permanent CEO will start in May.

The executive of the CLC has formed a subcommittee to manage the process.  

“Too precious to rush this”: NT Government’s water controller urged to delay huge horticulture water license decision until impacts are known

The Central Land Council has called on the Northern Territory’s water controller not to approve a 40,000 megalitre-a-year water license application for Singleton Station, south of Tennant Creek, until more is known about the impacts of the proposal on more than 1000 affected residents.

“We are very concerned about the lack of scientific data about groundwater availability and how such a massive and unprecedented proposal would affect the water our people, animals and plants are relying on for their long-term survival,” said CLC executive member Michael Liddle.

Fortune Agribusiness last year applied for 40,000 megalitres of publicly owned water to be set aside each year for 30 years, for free.

This is more than eight times the amount of water Alice Springs uses in a year and would become the biggest groundwater licence in the history of the Territory.

“It would be extraordinary if the government made such a far reaching decision based on assumptions and guesswork,” said CLC chief executive Joe Martin-Jard.

“There are big gaps in our knowledge about the region’s groundwater and how it moves between the network of aquifers.”

“We’re mining a very precious, finite resource that is likely to dwindle even further due to climate change and more frequent droughts,” he said.

“That’s why we want the government to collect data to verify its assumptions and modelling about how much water is really underground and test the impact of irrigation on groundwater dependent ecosystems and cultural sites before allowing this proposal to go ahead.”

The CLC is also concerned that the controversial application, if granted, will set a dangerous precedent that may jeopardise proposed small and sustainable Aboriginal-controlled water horticulture projects in the region.

Its constituents want to know a lot more about the potential impacts of the proposal, including on their drinking water, before a careful and evidence-based decision on the application is made.

In November, following a community meeting in Alekarenge, the CLC asked Water Minister Eva Lawler to delay a decision until after the ceremony season to allow a meeting of affected remote community residents, traditional owners and native title holders to go ahead in Tennant Creek on 24 February.

However, it has learned the water controller plans to make a decision about the allocation next week.

Any allocation could be followed by what the government calls ‘adaptive management’, where the allocation would be varied over time, in line with how much water will be found to be actually available.

“Does anyone really believe that if their guesswork turns out to be wrong they will ask the company to pull out fruit trees and irrigation lines later on?” Mr Liddle asked.

“No future government will have the political will to cut back the water allocations of companies that have already invested millions of dollars.

“Our water is too precious to rush this or get it wrong. Our communities deserve to know the facts before a decision is made.”

Download the CLC Fact Sheet on the Singleton Station water allocation decision.

Members and staff of the Central Land Council are mourning the passing of executive member and long-term delegate Jakamarra Nelson and send their deepest condolences to his family and friends.

“Jakamarra was a land rights champion of the first hour and commanded enormous respect,” CLC chief executive Joe Martin-Jard said.

“He worked as a Warlpiri interpreter during the early land council meetings and represented his community of Yuendumu on the council since 1988.

“He was a thorough gentleman who walked with ease in two worlds. We will all miss his wisdom and his humour.”

Born on Mount Doreen Station, Mr Nelson was six years old when his family was moved to Yuendumu, a welfare ration depot, around 1946.

He was the fifth of nine siblings and his father had four wives.

Even though he only attended the community’s school until grade five, he benefited from additional tuition by Baptist missionary Tom Fleming.

“I was lucky,” he recalled in the CLC’s oral history collection Every Hill Got A Story.

“The whitefella missionary used to teach me after hours … to give me extra education. That’s where I managed to pick up my command of English.”

He considered himself blessed to have received a two-way education, with regular breaks from settlement life.

“You’d go to church every Sunday, practice our culture every night if possible”, he said.

On regular trips to his family’s country “we had explained to us how far, how long it would take from A to B to get there – walking that is, cross-country with no map recorded, except in your mind. I think I could still do that – but I can’t walk!”

After a mechanic apprenticeship Mr Nelson attended teachers college in Darwin and returned to the Yuendumu school to teach, becoming one of the first Aboriginal teachers in Central Australia.

After five years teaching he joined the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to support the outstation movement as an assistant community advisor.

“He was a champion of Aboriginal-led economic development, serving on the advisory committee of the Aboriginal Benefits Account and as a director of Yuendumu’s Yapa-Kurlangu Ngurrara Aboriginal Corporation,” Mr Martin-Jard said.

A lifelong advocate for truth-telling, one of Mr Nelson’s last public appearances was as MC at the 90th anniversary Coniston Massacre commemoration at Yurkurru in 2018.

Following the last CLC elections, in 2019, he told the many new young delegates why he was not yet ready to retire.

“We are still very strong and still battling with the government and others who are damaging our country. I’m talking about the mining companies. That’s why I joined the land council,” he said.

Our thoughts are with Mr Nelson’s wife Lynette, his children and families.

MEDIA CONTACT: Elke Wiesmann | 0417 877 579 | media@clc.org.au

Cashless Debit Card: Vote NO

The Central Land Council, as a member of the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT) alliance, has made an eleventh hour appeal to Senator Rex Patrick to vote against the Cashless Debit Card rollout in the Northern Territory. The bill, if passed in the Senate later today, will impose the scheme on 23,000 people in the Northern Territory – 82% of people whom are Aboriginal and living in very remote communities. The CLC’s opposition to the Cashless Debit Card is unequivocal and unchanged. The bill is discriminatory and will perpetuate compulsory income management in the NT without evidence or adequate review. It is a punitive hangover from the 2007 NT Intervention, which was and continues to be fiercely opposed by Aboriginal residents of the NT.

The CLC supports income management as a voluntary measure for those experiencing hardship who may value the structure it can provide during difficult times, or as a measure for individuals considered to be at high risk and vulnerable by Aboriginal controlled health organisations. What Aboriginal people want is a pathway out of poverty and into real training and employment, not an endless cycle of punitive government interventions that are not proven to be effective. Closing the Gap will only be achieved through positive programs and resources that assist people to improve their lives and emphasise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination.

We have urged Senator Patrick today to consider APO NT’s Remote Jobs Package that, if implemented, will go a long way to creating employment pathways in the NT – a more enduring, positive legacy than the one presented by the CDC expansion.

Inquiry into remote food security and pricing report

The Central Land Council welcomes the release of the final report of the House of Representatives inquiry into food security and pricing in remote Indigenous communities. The report is clear in its findings that Aboriginal people living remotely pay more for most types of goods than urban and regional Australians and suffer the consequences of significantly higher prices for fresh food and vegetables.

We are pleased that the Committee backs the CLC’s recommendation to establish a real-time price monitoring and point of sale data system across all remote community stores. To be effective, solutions to the remote food security crisis must be backed by reliable data to make price comparisons and empower consumers. We look forward to seeing greater transparency in store pricing and know this will help stores who are already working with communities and have strong pricing policies and community leadership.

We welcome the recommendation for an ACCC investigation to ensure adequate regulation of pricing moving forward. We urge the federal government to act quickly to implement the food inquiry report’s recommendations. This is the third report into remote food security issues in the past decade. And it is critically important that real change and improvement follows this most recent report to Aboriginal people closer to closing the gap on health outcomes.

Traditional owners of the Yeperenye/Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature Park are using the rent they get for the park to fund a new public walking and cycling trail between Anthwerrke (Emily Gap) and Atherrke (Jessie Gap) in the East MacDonnell Ranges.

The early Christmas present, which will create employment for Aboriginal workers, is the biggest investment by an Aboriginal group in public infrastructure.

“We want to share the place with everyone, and let them know that the community planned and funded it with our rent money,” traditional owner Lynette Ellis said.

The trail will create employment in trail construction, interpretive signage and repair and maintenance, as well as attract tourists to the sacred site 10 kilometres east of Alice Springs.

“Tourists should experience the East MacDonnell Ranges as well as the West Macs,” Ms Ellis said.

Traditional owners will spend more than $330,000 of their NT parks rent to construct the 7.2 kilometre dual usage trail. It will feature wheelchair access sections at both the Emily Gap and Jessie Gap ends, as well as seating at rest points.

“It’s so the old people and those who aren’t mobile can also come to the site,” Ms Ellis said.

The park is home to significant dreamings, the place where the three caterpillar songlines Yeperenye [Yep-ah-RIN-ya], Ntyarlke [N-CHAYL-ka] and Utnerrengatye [OOT-ner-ung-utch] intersect.

“The trail is an act of generosity by the traditional owners that will provide a welcome boost to the tourism industry at a time it needs it most,” Central Land Council chief executive Joe Martin-Jard said.

The CLC engaged Alice Springs company Tricky Tracks to manage the construction. The company plans to hire four workers from the community to build the trail by following the natural contours of the landscape and causing minimal disturbance to the environment.

They will train them in trail alignment and gradient selection, use of hand tools, erosion management and construction techniques.

“I’m looking forward to learning new skills for my future, so I can work in construction,” said Grant Alice from Amoonguna.

Mr Alice is also a member of the traditional owner group that allocated the funds and planned the project with the CLC’s community development program. The NT Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security’s Parks and Wildlife division is partnering with the CLC on the project.

Parks and Wildlife will provide interpretive signage at the trail heads along with trail marking and will repair and maintain the trail, providing ongoing employment opportunities for those acquiring the skills during construction.

This is the third substantial investment the Yeperenye traditional owners have made to enhance the visitor experience at the park.

Two years after installing seats and picnic tables worth $23,000 at Anthwerrke in 2015, the group spent $34,000 of their rent income to develop the Territory’s first interactive visitor app by traditional owners.

The Anthwerrke Experience app walks visitors and tourists through the area’s most significant dreaming sites, ecology and cultural history.

Ms Ellis has many more enterprising ideas for her community to build on the momentum of the trail.

“We would like to run guided tours and have Aboriginal rangers caring for country here too, and an art centre visitors can enjoy at Amoonguna.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Sasha Pavey | 0488 984 885| media@clc.org.au

Why we are calling on all MPs to oppose the Cashless Debit Card Expansion Bill

We call on all members of parliament to strongly oppose the bill that would expand compulsory income management in the Northern Territory through the Cashless Debit Card (CDC).

APO NT spokesperson John Paterson said, “Support for the bill would directly contradict the recent National Agreement on Closing the Gap that was supported by all levels of government including the Commonwealth. It is not in keeping with the spirit of the agreement and its emphasis on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination.”

Mr Paterson added, ”We did not ask for the card, yet 22 000 of us will be affected if the card is imposed on NT income recipients.”

There is still no proof that compulsory income management works. In February this year the University of Queensland released a report on their review of four CDC trial sites. The overwhelming finding was “that compulsory income management is having a disabling rather than enabling effect on the lives of many social security recipients.”

The Cashless Debit Card relies on regular and reliable access to the internet and mobile phone coverage. This is not the case for many remote communities in the NT. What works in other CDC trial sites will not work for the NT. 82% of people who will be transferred to the CDC are Aboriginal and most live on remote communities.

Mr Paterson said, “Face to face Centrelink support has been stripped back out bush and will be replaced by a 1800 number or an internet site. This is grossly inadequate for a population who lack digital literacy and where English is a second language”.

“The bill is a new Intervention. It will perpetuate the torment of our powerlessness. It denies our basic freedom to control our lives. It locks the many of us who live below the poverty line out of the cash economy and undermines our small businesses that rely on cash payments.”

“The millions of dollars supporting the transition of NT communities into a CDC “trial site”. would be better invested in holistic wrap around services helping our people to overcome drug and alcohol dependence and trauma. They and their families deserve support, not punishment.

“To the government this is just a law change, but to us it is about our everyday lives becoming even more of a struggle. We are sick of governments doing things to us, rather than with us.”

Mr Paterson concluded, “This bill disregards our views and lived experience and fundamentally undermines the collaborative spirit of the next phase of Closing the Gap. It symbolises why so many policies have failed our people and why things aren’t getting better in our communities.”

“We call on every MP to oppose this bill.”

Limbunya Station native title holder Becky Peters with Justice Richard White.

Native title holders are getting ready to celebrate the long awaited determination of native title over the childhood home of land rights leader Vincent Lingiari, Limbunya Station, on 10 September.

The Nawurlala [NA – were – la – la], Parayi-Kakaru [PA – rye KA – ka – ru], Tjutamalin [TJU – ta – ma – lin] and Central Limbunya land holding groups will gather at the Karungkarni Arts and Culture Centre in Kalkaringi at 11:30 to witness the Federal Court’s Justice White hand down the determination.

“It means that the traditional laws and customs of native title holders are recognised in Australia law, and they can use the area in accordance with them,” said the CLC’s manager of native title, Francine McCarthy.

“They will be able to access the pastoral lease land to hunt, gather, teach and perform ceremonies and to negotiate exploration and mining agreements, but unlike on Aboriginal land, they have no veto right.”

“The determination also recognises that their cultural connection to their land dates back to time immemorial.”

The 5,218 square kilometre determination area, northwest of Kalkaringi, belonged to Lord Vestey’s cattle empire and was run as part of Waterloo Station until the 1980s.

As on all Vestey’s stations, conditions were extraordinarily difficult for Aboriginal workers and their families who were paid in rations and shifted around from station to station and across state and territory borders.

However, despite these hardships, the traditional owners of this country maintained a very rich cultural life against the odds.

They kept their songlines alive as they travelled around, and as relatively distinct cultures intermingled, the Vestey stations became a crossroads of many song traditions.

It was not uncommon for station workers from the region to walk hundreds of kilometres to Limbunya during the wet season to attend ceremonies.

Quoting a custodian named Daelngari, anthropologist Catherine Berndt wrote in 1950 that the station was a major ceremonial centre in the continuation of law and customs:

“It was her contention that sacred and secular ceremonies from all the surrounding country met at this centre from the north-west coast, and Ord River; from Tanami and the Granites north through Inverway; from Newcastle Waters and the main north road, through Mudbara [sic] territory and Wave Hill; from the mouth of the Victoria and Timber Creek, through Waterloo, and through Victoria River Downs; and from Darwin and Katherine down through Willaroo.”

After Mr Lingiari led striking Aboriginal workers off Wave Hill Station in 1966, families working on Limbunya and other Vestey-owned stations also walked-off.

Many of their families today live in Kalkaringi and Daguragu and native holders continue to access their country for cultural and ceremonial purposes.

The CLC lodged the native title application in January 2017, following the successful native title claim over Kalkaringi, in part because there is mining interest in the pastoral lease area.

The native title holders will exercise their rights through their prescribed body corporate, the Malapa Aboriginal Corporation, while Limbunya Station will continue to operate as a cattle station.

The Central Land Council welcomes a landmark Northern Territory Supreme Court ruling that lifts the bar for housing standards in remote Aboriginal communities.

CLC chief executive Joe Martin-Jard said the ruling has profound implications for the housing quality, condition and maintenance standards to which remote community tenants are entitled.

“The court acknowledged that it is not enough for houses to be ‘safe’ – they must also meet contemporary standards of ‘humaneness, suitability and reasonable comfort’,” Mr Martin-Jard said.

“The ruling echoes the concerns our delegates and constituents have voiced for decades and challenges dated assumptions about what constitutes acceptable housing standards for Aboriginal people.”

“It sets an important precedent and belatedly establishes new standards for all NT remote Aboriginal communities.”

He said the ruling, which relates to litigants from the Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa) community, validates the complaints about grossly inadequate repair and maintenance regimes the CLC has heard from its constituents for too long.

“Our constituents want a thorough overhaul of the remote housing system – one in which they have a major say about what is provided and how it is provided, and in which the government invests enough to maintain their houses,” said Mr Martin-Jard.

In July, the four NT land councils endorsed a detailed proposal to return housing services to community control over the next decade.

“The Northern Territory Supreme Court ruling adds impetus to our call,” said Mr Martin-Jard.

“We look forward to working closely with the Australian and NT governments and the NT Minister for Remote Housing, Chansey Paech, in his new role.”

“We congratulate Minister Paech on his appointment to this critical role and look forward to working with him on improving all aspects of remote Aboriginal housing.”

The families of striking Wave Hill Station workers will celebrate the recognition of their native title rights at Jinbarak, the old homestead of the famous pastoral property tomorrow.

The station near Kalkaringi was the site of the 1966 Wave Hill Walk Off, the strike led by Gurindji stockmen Vincent Lingiari, Billy Bunter and others that marks the beginning of the land rights movement.

Justice White will hand down a non-exclusive native title consent determination over an area of approximately 5,492 square kilometres during a Federal Court sitting at Jinbarak at 11:30 am.

Many of the older native title holders from the Jamangku [ja – MUN – ku], Japuwuny [ja – PU – wun], Parlakuna-Palkinykarni [parla – KU – na PAL – kin – karni] and Yilyilyimawu [il-yi-yi-MA-wu] land holding groups and their families worked on Wave Hill Station, formerly part of the Vestey cattle empire.

“I was born on Wave Hill Station. It means everything to me and my family,” said native title holder Pauline Ryan.

“I was in the walk off in 1966. I remember that day. My stepfather, mother and grandpa were there too.”

“My uncle and grandpa and grandma passed away here. We bring our young kids here to talk about their memory. I was working here when I was 10 or 11. I was a cleaner. I never went to school.”

The station workers were exploited and shifted around from station to station and across state and territory borders but maintained a strong history of songlines, and connection to their traditional lands.

The composition of new songs is a living cultural tradition, and the native title holders share law and customs, as well as the Gurindji, Mudburra and Warlpiri languages.

Francine McCarthy, the CLC’s manager of native title, said the determination recognises their rights to hunt, gather and teach on the land and waters and to conduct cultural activities and ceremonies.

“It gives them the right to negotiate exploration and mining agreements, but unlike on Aboriginal land, they have no veto right,” she said.

Native title holder Matthew Algy said he and his family were happy about the determination.

“It’s important to the legacy of the old people who worked here. I’m carrying on in my father’s footsteps, he was a stockman and I am a stockman. I was born on New Wave Hill Station, I’ve worked here [Wave Hill Station] like my father did.”

The CLC lodged the native title application in November 2016, in response to mining interests in the pastoral lease area.

The native title holders will exercise their rights through their prescribed body corporate, the Jinparrak Aboriginal Corporation, while Wave Hill Station will continue to operate as a cattle station.

Aboriginal Peak Organisations (APO NT) has welcomed the Australian Capital Territory’s recent decision to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 years to 14 years.

This decision is consistent with the recommendations made by the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory in 2017 and acknowledges concerns raised by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child that the minimum age for criminal responsibility in Australia is too young. Australia has failed to uphold this standard across all states and territories, including the Northern Territory.

“We are concerned about the discriminatory application of the current age of criminal responsibility and the disproportionate impact that this has on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people, their families and our broader community,” said APO NT spokesperson John Paterson.

Based on data from 2019, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people are 24 times more likely to end up in detention than their non-Aboriginal peers. In the Northern Territory, it is estimated that 96% of the youth detention population are Aboriginal and that more than 70% of young people in youth detention are on remand.

“The evidence shows that early involvement in the criminal justice system creates a vicious cycle of disadvantage and reoffending. We believe the youth justice system needs further reform. Treating children so punitively is a fundamentally flawed approach. We should be providing appropriate support to children and their families, not locking them up.”

APO NT was disappointed at the recent decision of the Council of Attorneys-General to delay a decision to raise the age of criminal responsibility, despite the clear recommendations of professional legal and health experts and public advocates.

“There is an opportunity here for our new Government in the Northern Territory to really make a difference and follow the lead of the Australian Capital Territory to raise the age of criminal responsibility. Such a decision will change children’s life outcomes in the future.”

“APO NT calls on the newly elected NT Government to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years as a first 100 days commitment, and match the principled stand taken by the Australian Capital Territory.

“We also call on the government to work with Aboriginal people and communities to implement sound policies and effective programs to ensure young children and their families have an opportunity to deal with any underlying social issues.

“A greater investment and commitment in our young people today will enrich their lives and create a better future for them and the whole community”, John Paterson concluded.

For media comment:

Brionee Noonan, APO NT Coordinator – ph. (08) 8944 66 72 & 0488 066 680

Researchofficer.apont@amsant.org.au

More than 50 business, Indigenous, health and community organisations have come together urging parties to commit to legislate for climate action ahead of the Northern Territory election.

They will deliver an open letter to party leaders today that calls for a Climate Change Act setting a legally binding pathway for the Territory to meet the Paris Agreement target of net zero emissions by 2050.

The act would compel future NT governments to consider climate risks in all portfolios and make decisions in the best interests of current and future generations of Territorians.

The NT faces some of the most extreme impacts from climate change, yet lags behind other jurisdictions that are already implementing a clean energy future.

Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania all have laws to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as do countries such as New Zealand, the UK, Mexico, and many states in the US and Europe.

“The Territory finally has bipartisan support for reaching net zero emissions by 2050, but unless that becomes law, we can’t be confident that the target will be reached,” says Shar Molloy, Director of the environment Centre NT.

“The NT’s recent climate change response is a strong policy foundation, but we have seen good policy thrown out before when governments change. A Climate Change Act will make sure future governments are held accountable for protecting our futures.”

Unprecedented heat waves, reduced rainfall, species loss and ecosystem damage are already threatening NT lives and livelihoods.

Climate change is threatening the very survival of Aboriginal communities because its impacts compounds inequalities in housing, health, food and energy security.

“Our people are on the frontline of climate change,” said Central Land Council executive member Michael Liddle. “Our overcrowded hotbox houses are becoming less habitable every year and a falling water table and reduced rainfall are threatening our drinking water and the plants and animals we depend on.

A climate change law would help us to fight those risks and make a faster transition to affordable, clean energy that creates jobs in our communities.”

The open letter calls for Aboriginal knowledge to inform the Territory’s climate change response and for Aboriginal representation in an independent expert NT Climate Advisory Council overseeing the delivery of a Climate Change Act.

“We have a lot to contribute because we have cared sustainably for country for tens of thousands of years and we want and need to be part of the solution,” said Mr Liddle.“We need to educate ourselves about the causes of climate change, how it impacts on the bush foods that are becoming harder and harder to gather and how that in turn affects our cultures and identities.”

As the Territory moves into another hot summer, the need to prepare the community for a heating world is increasingly urgent.

“The rise in extreme heat days is already making more and more people sick and killing them, and if we don’t take action we’ll see even more heat-related deaths,” says doctor and ANU Senior Lecturer Simon Quilty.

“Strong climate legislation would help us create more liveable and resilient communities, for example by investing in environmental health – shade, green spaces and cool spots in our urban spaces and remote communities.”

A Climate Change Act will send a clear signal to industry and investors that the NT will recover from this pandemic by creating jobs in industries that are good for jobs, the environment and regional economies.

It is also an opportunity to make sure the response to climate change is fair and equitable.

“Responding to the challenges of climate change is a chance to make the Territory a better and more equal place for everyone. We can tackle disadvantage at the same time as providing climate solutions – byinvesting in social housing, cleaner, clean affordable energy, and supporting local jobs in sustainable industries,” says John Adams, Jesuit Social Services General Manager NT.

“As we’ve seen with COVID-19, we know that climate change will hit some groups in our community harder than others – because of their income, where they live, where they work, age or disability. Working withthe community sector will be critical to ensure needs of the most vulnerable groups are prioritised.”

Community members can support the call for a Climate Change Act by signing the petition launched today by the Environment Centre NT:

https://www.ecnt.org.au/2020_climatechangeact_petition

Media Enquiries – Kate Davies, 0419 723 196 or kate@climatemediacentre.org.au

New National Agreement on Closing the Gap marks historic shift to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ life outcomes

Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory (APO NT) today welcomed the National Agreement on Closing the Gap as a turning point in the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and governments – one that is based on shared decision making on policies and programs that impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives.

APO NT joined with more than fifty other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled peak bodies to steer the new Closing the Gap Agreement in the right direction.

The negotiations on the National Agreement with governments were hard fought, with targets now in place that can make a real difference to the lives of our people.

More than 4,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were consulted on what should be included in the new National Agreement, guiding us in our negotiations. The Agreement shows that they have been heard.

The four Priority Reforms were overwhelmingly supported during the community engagements led by the Coalition of Peaks late last year and will fundamentally change the way governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations.

The Reforms commit governments to new partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the country; strengthen community-controlled organisations to deliver closing the gap services; address structural racism within government agencies and organisations; and improve sharing of data and information with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to support shared decision making.

APO NT is pleased to see the National Agreement includes a new target for Priority Reform One, for formal partnership arrangements to support Closing the Gap to be in place in each state and territory. This enshrines agreed joint decision-making roles and responsibilities and the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to choose their own representatives.

John Paterson, spokesperson for APO NT, said “The new National Agreement is a critical step forward that acknowledges the voice of Aboriginal people here in the Territory. We want to see a greater improvement in educational outcomes, more jobs and training opportunities, reduction in incarceration rates and real investments in tackling the social determinants of health and creating more opportunities for Aboriginal people to establish businesses to become self-sufficient.

“Housing is critical to Closing the Gap and underpins key drivers of change, especially in terms health and education outcomes.” said the Central Land Council’s executive manager policy and governance, Dr Josie Douglas.

“Here in the Territory we look forward to working with the NT and Commonwealth governments on co-designing a new community-driven housing model that can solve our homelessness crisis and overcrowding in remote communities.”

APO NT has long acknowledged that Aboriginal people have the solutions and should be the key drivers of change. “Working together with governments is the way we can ensure positive outcomes for our people”, said Mr Paterson.

To read the full new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, head to the Coalition of Peaks website: http://coalitionofpeaks.org.au/final-national-agreement-on-closing-the-gap/

For more information and media enquiries

APO NT: John Paterson on 0418 486 310 and Dr Josie Douglas on 0439 854 750

Coalition of Peaks: Jo Scard on 0457 725 953 or jo@fiftyacres.com; and Julia Macerola on 0422 337 332 or julia@fiftyacres.com

PDF Version of Media Release – http://www.amsant.org.au/apont/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/APO-NT-MR-National-Close-the-Gap-Agreement-Final.pdf

Kind regards,

Brionee Noonan

APO NT Coordinator

Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory [APO NT]

P. (08) 8944 6672 I M. 0488 006 680 I brionee.noonan@amsant.org.au

The four Northern Territory’s land councils want the Morrison and Gunner governments to commit to replacing the NT’s failed public housing system with a new Aboriginal-controlled model for remote communities, homelands and town camps.

Meeting in Darwin with Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt and NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner, the land councils have told governments that returning responsibility for housing design, construction, maintenance and tenancy management to Aboriginal people is essential to closing the gap.

The land councils support a transition to a community housing system governed by Aboriginal people at the local, regional and NT levels that maximises Aboriginal employment and training and delivers professional and responsive services to all tenants.

Part of the detailed new model is a statutory NT-wide Aboriginal-controlled body, together with regional housing organisations that would allow the Territory’s diverse regions to participate according to their needs, aspirations and capacity.

The NT-wide body would manage housing funds and implement appropriate housing regulation and standards, and an independent Aboriginal-controlled peak body would monitor its performance.

“Both governments have invested substantial funds in NT Aboriginal housing and are willing to move towards a community housing system. We now have a roadmap for real action,” Central Land Council chief executive Joe Martin-Jard said.

“It’s encouraging that Minister Wyatt is committed to working with us on housing reform. We welcome his support and call on whoever forms the next NT Government to commit to joining this effort.”

“The new model is not one-size-fits-all but allows for flexible service delivery and choice,” Northern Land Council Chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said.

“The land councils will continue to consult with traditional owners and community residents across the NT to find out how the model can meet their needs and negotiate with the Australian and NT governments to see it implemented.”

Anindilyakwa Land Council chair Tony Wurramarrba said that in the Groote Archipelago they are already implementing one of the building blocks of the new system, a regional Aboriginal community housing organisation.

“We support the new model because we believe only Aboriginal accountability and control will resolve the national disgrace that is the current NT housing system,” he said.

“We welcome the model’s support for our neglected homelands that haven’t seen any new houses for more than a decade,” Tiwi Land Council chief executive Andrew Tipungwuti said.

“COVID-19 has taught us that working and living on our land is essential for the health and safety of our peoples.”

CLC: Elke Wiesmann / 0417 877 579 / media@clc.org.au

NLC: Leah McLennan/ 0427 031 382 media@nlc.org.au

The four Northern Territory land councils condemn the unacceptable lack of protection for safe and adequate drinking water in the NT.

Meeting in Darwin with NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner and opposition party leaders, the land councils called for urgent legislation to ensure that all Territorians have access to safe drinking water.

The land councils want all parties to commit to enacting a Safe Drinking Water Act that provides regulatory protection and accountability for the safe and adequate water for all.

Communities throughout the NT – from the north to the south – are experiencing poor water quality and water stresses, for example Kintore, Yuendumu, Willowra, Yuelamu, Ntaria (Hermannsburg), Imanpa, Mutitjulu, Willora, Wutunugurra, Alekarange, Utopia, Alpurrurulam, Warruwi, Bulla, Numbulwar, Ngukurr, Milingimbi, Wurrumiyanga and Laramba.

Central Land Council chief executive Joe Martin-Jard said residents of the Laramba community, three hours northwest of Alice Springs, are drinking water that contains three times the level of uranium than is recommended as safe by the World Health Organisation.

“The lack of legislative protection out bush is discriminatory and constitutes negligence by the Northern Territory Government,” he said.

“That’s why we want whoever forms the next NT government to bring in legally enforceable minimum standards for drinking water quality and security.”

“All Territorians, not just those living in major towns, have a right to safe and adequate drinking water,” Northern Land Council Chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said.

“Bush voters deserve to know how the parties are planning to ensure they can enjoy this right.”

The land councils say existing water legislation must also be amended to prioritise future drinking water reserves over all other uses.

“These legislative changes must be supported by an overarching water security strategy to protect our most precious resource,” Tiwi Land Council chief executive Andrew Tipungwuti said.

“Any party vying for the bush vote must commit to significantly increasing spending on repair, replacement and maintenance of ageing remote water infrastructure and installation of proven technological solutions to better use non-potable water.”

Anindilyakwa Land Council chair Tony Wurramarrba added that all funding decisions about water infrastructure and services must be transparent, and involve the land councils.

“Too many of our communities are running out of water or are forced to drink polluted water. We need to be involved in deciding on water infrastructure and services on Aboriginal land,” he said.

CLC: Elke Wiesmann / 0417 877 579 / media@clc.org.au


NLC: Leah McLennan/ 0427 031 382 media@nlc.org.au

The federal government must permanently and substantially raise the rate of income support payments and back community-led job creation proposals, a coalition of Aboriginal and human rights organisations says.

The Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory (APO NT), NT Council of Social Services (NTCOSS) and Human Rights Law Centre have joined hundreds of organisations and individuals around Australia in calling for a permanent increase in Jobseeker and other social security payments.

They have signed an open statement supporting today’s National Day of Action organised by the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) at https://raisetherate.org.au/.

NT Aboriginal families, almost half of whom live below the poverty line, have been hit particularly hard by inadequate unemployment support and remote area allowance payments.

Aboriginal people make up just a third of the NT population, but represent 70 per cent of consumers of the NT health system.

They have been trapped in ill health and poverty not only by inadequate support payments, but the discriminatory and punitive work-for-the-dole scheme and compulsory income quarantining.

The government’s community development program has stifled job creation and financially penalised people forced to work for less than a fair wage.

At the same time the cost of food and other essentials in remote communities has been growing, with a basket of healthy food estimated to cost $319 more in a community store than in a Darwin supermarket.

The poorest Territorians are paying close to 60 per cent more for their groceries.

Quotes:

Deborah Di Natale (NTCOSS CEO): “I have seen first-hand the ridiculously high prices in remote communities and the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables on the shelves. This level of inequity should not be tolerated in a country that prides itself on a fair go.”

Joe Martin-Jard (Central Land Council CEO and APO NT representative):“The temporary coronavirus supplement has improved the health of Aboriginal people in remote communities, with stores reporting to CLC staff increased sales of fresh food, essential white goods and warm winter items, as well as a decrease in requests for emergency relief.”

Raising incomes for those who are unable to work or where few jobs exist is absolutely critical but must go hand in hand with a serious commitment to jobs creation in the bush.”

“For those who can and want to work we have a pathway into the world of properly paid employment – we just need the government to act on our remote job creation plan.”

Adrianne Walters (Associate Legal Director, Human Rights Law Centre):“We cannot go back to the indignity of people scraping to survive on $40 a day. The Government should permanently raise payments and end discrimination in the social security system to ensure every person has enough money to live a decent life.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Sasha Pavey | 0488 984 885| media@clc.org.au

The Central Land Council, with the support of the Northern Land Council, calls on the NT Government to keep the NT borders with all other jurisdictions closed until community transmission of COVID-19 has been eliminated in Australia, and to reinstate mandatory motel quarantine for 14 days.

The CLC executive resolved today that “if the government ignores our recommendation and decides to open up the Territory’s borders, it should only do this in a ‘travel bubble’”.

People from COVID hotspots anywhere in Australia must be required to undertake mandatory supervised quarantine for 14 days, the resolution states.

It says that the NT Government must implement the ‘Contain and Test Strategy’ in all remote communities, irrespective of what is in the local community’s pandemic plan.

It calls on the government to “implement a community engagement strategy so every person in a community knows what will happen if there’s an outbreak”.

It also asks the NT Chief Health Officer to immediately re-issue an order requiring everyone except for close family members to comply with physical distancing rules in public.

The Northern Land Council supports the resolution.

“I’m not at all for the borders to open on July 17,” NLC chair Samuel Bush-Blanasi said.

“Chief Minister Michael Gunner should really be talking to the land councils about reopening the border at a later date because of the hotspots in Melbourne and elsewhere,” he said.

“I’m calling on him to please talk with us and let’s consider a better outcome for everyone in the Territory.”

CLC chair Sammy Wilson added: “The safety of Territorians is the main thing and any border openings must be carefully considered by the government and the land councils together”.

Anyone except for essential workers must quarantine in Alice Springs or Tennant Creek for two weeks before they will be allowed to return to remote communities in the biosecurity areas across the Central Land Council region.

Until the quarantine services were running, the CLC had provided permission letters on a case-by-case basis to residents who needed to visit Alice Springs or Tennant Creek in exceptional circumstances so they could return to their locked-down communities inside the biosecurity areas.

It also gave permission letters to residents of outstations who had jobs in town, had no access to a store or a clinic, allowing them to return home without the need to quarantine.

As of 23 April, the federal government, on the CLC’s recommendation, excluded outstations near Alice Springs from the biosecurity areas.

“This means Aboriginal people who live on nearby outstations will finally be treated just like other rural residents on the outskirts of town,” CLC chief executive Joe Martin-Jard said.

“This change was overdue and we are pleased that the government has listened to us.”

“Now that the NT government has supervised quarantine facilities in place, permission letters are only for emergencies.

Remote community residents and interstate arrivals will need to quarantine in a hostel or motel in town for two weeks before they can go home.

“If remote community residents need to come to town for medical reasons they will need to contact their clinic or the hospital before they travel so they can organise for them to return home again,” said Mr Martin-Jard.

“From today, my staff will be telling everyone: if you are at home please stay there. You are safest from the coronavirus in your community.”

“In the meantime, we will hold governments to their promises that people will have what they need to stay safe and well in the biosecurity areas.”

For more information about the NT’s quarantine process, please go to https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/stay-safe/quarantine or email TF.SouthernRegion@nt.gov.au.

MEDIA CONTACT: Elke Wiesmann | 08 8951 6217 | media@clc.org.au

A coalition of 13 Aboriginal organisations of the Northern Territory* want the national cabinet to immediately guarantee the supply of affordable food and other basics in locked-down remote communities.
Two weeks ago, the commonwealth and NT governments met with major supermarkets, suppliers and three major remote retailers, yet remote community owned stores are still waiting to hear about any government interventions that might flow from that meeting that will take the pressure off.

“We are getting daily reports of remote stores struggling to supply basic goods,” said John Paterson, the CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT.

“Some stores are running out of fresh food three days after their weekly delivery. Under COVID-19 travel restrictions small, community owned stores must suddenly meet 100% of people’s needs across a much greater range of products. Some stores have had to triple their usual orders.

“In recent weeks, the big supermarkets have responded to panic buying down south by sweeping up the bulk of goods from manufacturers and producers. Independent suppliers are struggling to get what they need for remote stores,” said John Paterson.

“We want an agreed proportion of these essential goods set aside for the independent suppliers. This can’t be solved through donated goods. It needs a systemic response from government.

“Prices in remote community owned stores are also a big issue. This is borne out in every market basket survey. High freight costs and limited purchasing power mean prices can average 60% higher than at major supermarkets.

The coalition of health services, land councils and other Aboriginal organisations is calling for a 20 per cent point-of-sale subsidy of essential food, cleaning and hygiene products, as well as winter bedding and clothing in remote community stores.

“A direct consumer subsidy of selected items is the best way to guarantee that residents who are no longer able to shop around can afford the basics,” said Mr Paterson.

Community stores say invoicing the federal government for 20 per cent of their sales once a fortnight would place the least administrative burden on them.

“Already, remote community residents are taking backroads into regional centres to access essential and affordable supplies they can’t get at home. Towns are where they are most likely to contract coronavirus.”

“We understand fresh fruit, vegetables and meat are not in short supply in the southern states and distributers are actively planning to address current shortages in remote stores in central Australia. It is critically important that we understand how this will work, the CEO of the Central Land Council, Joe Martin-Jard, said.

“However, we believe subsidies on essential goods at point of sale coupled with a supply guarantee will make a huge difference.”
“We urge the national cabinet to take action, before it is too late, because time is all remote Aboriginal communities have on their side in their fight against the virus. We are all affected by this crisis, some more than others when it comes to accessing affordable food,” Central Australian Aboriginal Congress CEO Donna Ah Chee said.

“We want preventative action. This is all about making sure remote Aboriginal people can depend 100% on their one community store as they are not in a position to shop around. We have no more time to waste.”

The Central Land Council warns that unless governments ensure food supply in remote communities, residents will defy orders and continue to travel to regional towns.

“Governments have assured our constituents that they will have everything they need in their communities to stay safe and well during this difficult time. We are holding them to this promise,” CLC chief executive Joe Martin-Jard said.

“They must monitor the price of key food items in remote community stores and come down hard on any price gouging.”

“We need immediate freight subsidies and supply guarantees for these stores so they can reduce their prices and don’t run out of essential supplies,” he said.

Even before the pandemic hit, remote community residents paid, on average, 60% more in their stores for a healthy food basket and many travelled to regional towns to buy cheaper groceries.

With that option now gone they are forced to rely on community stores where food and other essentials are becoming increasingly unaffordable and scarce.

The CLC is concerned that remote community residents will travel in and out of biosecurity areas to shop in Alice Springs.

“In one community story a lettuce costs $10. People pay $5.50 for tinned steak when they could buy it at a major supermarket for $1.70. Some tins of food at that store go for $10,” said Mr Martin-Jard.

He has called on governments to boost emergency food relief programs and work with Coles and Woolworths to set up a separate online ordering system for remote aged care, nutrition and other services affected by the supermarkets’ limitations on bulk purchases of food and hygiene products.

“This is only fair, especially since Aboriginal people out bush are arguably the only Territorians who are struggling to access groceries at town prices,” he said.

On 20 March, the NT land councils and Aboriginal medical services asked the NT government unsuccessfully to declare the entire Territory and the remote border region with Western Australia and South Australia a COVID-19 special control area.

Under this proposed “we’re-all-in this-together” approach, movement into and out of this area would have become subject to a 14 day quarantine period.

“Last week, we consented to the government declaring all local government areas outside Alice Springs and Darwin biosecurity areas,” Mr Martin-Jard said.

“We were surprised and dismayed about the decision to exempt pastoral leases from the biosecurity areas at the 11th hour. However, we fully support the health intent of the declaration and are working with governments to make things work.”

The CLC is working with the NT government to administer permits for essential workers and contractors visiting these areas.

It is being inundated by phone calls from people wanting to access Aboriginal communities and land but not all of them deliver essential services.

“If you are a worker or contractor who does not provide an essential service please stop calling,” Mr Martin-Jard said.

“If you are please apply for a permit at remote.travel@nt.gov.au. The government will vet your application and issue photo identifications to applicants we approve.”

“Anyone seeking permits on compassionate grounds should contact our permits section.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Sasha Pavey | 0488 984 885| media@clc.org.au

Northern Territory Aboriginal leaders have united to call on Chief Minister Michael Gunner to “do what it takes” and immediately declare the entire Territory and the remote tri-state border region in South Australia and Western Australia a special control area.

The Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the NT (APO NT) have requested an urgent meeting with Aboriginal leaders and Mr Gunner to progress the establishment of the quarantine zone before it is too late.

The call follows the first two cases of a Territorian testing positive for the coronavirus in Darwin today.

“If this virus gets into our communities it will wipe out an entire generation of elders and many, many younger people as well,” John Paterson, the CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT, said.

“The only way to prevent this from happening is to accept the reality that it is simply not possible to stop remote community residents from travelling between communities and regional centres and that here in the Territory we are all in this together.”

“We have a unique chance to keep everyone safe from the virus, but only if we act fast now. If we fail to take our lucky chance while we still can, history will surely condemn us,” Central Land Council CEO Joe Martin-Jard said.

“The door is now open for Mr Gunner to listen to Aboriginal leaders and act for the good of all Territorians.”

APO NT noted the National Cabinet’s in-principle agreement to restrict travel into remote Aboriginal communities to prevent the spread of the virus.

The agreement allows Mr Gunner to nominate the special control area as soon as possible and restrict persons from entering or leaving it while granting exemptions to essential service providers.

Media contact: Elke Wiesmann, 0417 877 579, media@clc.org.au

Protect the Territory while we still can – with a special control area

The Central Land Council strongly backs the call of the Combined Aboriginal Organisations of Alice Springs to declare the entire Northern Territory a special control area.

“Unlike the rest of the country, the Territory is ahead of the curve,” CLC chief executive Joe Martin-Jard said. “We need urgent and drastic action now to keep it that way.”

“Right now, we have a small window of opportunity to stop the virus from spreading in the Territory and we want governments to “do what it takes” to use it.

“If we don’t act now we will sooner or later end up with the same level of infection as Sydney and Melbourne, only with far fewer hospital beds and other basic health resources to treat our sick.”

“Our constituents worry that an entire generation of elders could be wiped out if we allowed the virus to enter their communities, and that the death toll even among younger family members would be far higher than for the rest of the nation.”

“It would be unforgivable to let that happen.”

The CLC is using all available communications channels to reassure remote community residents that, as long as they are not sick and need health services in regional centres, right now the safest place for them is in their communities and outstations.

“We’re telling them to stay on country and look after family and we will absolutely hold the NT government to its promise that they will have everything they need right there,” said Mr Martin-Jard.

In order to encourage people to spend their money in their own stores governments should subsidise store operators to offer goods at the same prices as major supermarkets in town.

“We need price parity with Alice Springs and Tennant Creek to support people to stay on country,” he said.

“The federal government’s $750 cash payment won’t go very far in community stores, where prices are approximately 60 per cent higher and this will be an incentive for our people to travel to town to do their shopping.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Elke Wiesmann | 0417 877 579| media@clc.org.au

The Central Land Council has asked the Prime Minister to suspend work-for-the-dole (also known as CDP) activities to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to remote Northern Territory communities before it is too late.

“We want CDP participants to be able to take care of their families and be free to contribute their own solutions to minimising the impacts of the pandemic,” CLC chief executive Joe Martin-Jard said.

“With government plans for the COVID-19 response in remote communities only just taking shape our constituents need to be able to participate fully in the planning required to overcome what will be huge logistical and practical challenges.”

He said communities and individuals needed maximum flexibility in deciding how to respond to a very dynamic and disruptive situation.

“Some are retreating to even more remote outstations and homelands to isolate the elderly and the chronically ill and need to be able to stock up on food and medical supplies without worrying about penalties and loss of income.”

Exemptions on a case-by-case basis will not work.

Health services will be stretched to the limit and should not be burdened with having to issue medical certificates for individual CDP participants.

“The sensible and responsible thing to do is to cancel all participation requirements for the duration of the pandemic and allow our people to put their health and safety first,” said Mr Martin-Jard.

The CLC has also suspended all travel by exploration companies and cancelled tourist permits to protect vulnerable community residents from the spread of the coronavirus.

“We are contacting exploration companies and tour groups to tell them that their entry permits have been revoked as a public health measure,” he said.

“We are asking everyone to put the needs of the most vulnerable first by staying away from remote communities and have instructed our town-based staff to do the same.”

“Almost 20 tourist groups with valid transit permits for Aboriginal land are being contacted and offered a refund of permit fees,” he said.

“We are also notifying seven exploration companies that we are cancelling the entry permits of their staff and contractors until further notice.”

The CLC’s Aboriginal Associations Management Centre also cancelled all Aboriginal corporation meetings scheduled between now and mid-April in order to encourage members to stay in their home communities.

The Central Land Council has appealed to everyone to protect vulnerable Territorians by suspending all non-essential visits to remote communities.

“We want anyone who is not delivering health, supplies and other essential services to cancel their trips,” said CLC chief executive Joe Martin-Jard.

“Our members are extremely concerned about the potential spread of the virus to their communities and we will support them if they want to impose restrictions.”

Mr Martin-Jard said the CLC last week cancelled large meetings across its region as a public health measure.

“Our first council meeting of the year, planned for Tennant Creek in April, and our annual ranger camp scheduled for next week the Ross River Resort have been cancelled.

“Both meetings would have brought together hundreds of people whose families have significant health issues.”

“No doubt this won’t be the last meetings we will cancel or postpone to protect our constituents.”

The CLC will use videoconferencing for other meetings wherever possible for the foreseeable future.

Last week it invalidated all permits already granted to people who had been to any of the countries covered by Australian Government travel advisories in the previous fortnight.

MEDIA CONTACT: Elke Wiesmann | 0417 877 579| media@clc.org.au

David Ross, AM richly deserves the honour bestowed on him today.

“From leaving his mark on the national Aboriginal land rights struggle to guiding the CLC’s successful ranger and community development programs, Mr Ross is an outstanding leader who has done so much to advance the rights and improve the lives of Aboriginal people in Central Australia,” CLC chief executive Joe Martin-Jard said.

“Today’s announcement that he has been awarded membership of the general division of the Order of Australia for serving his community will be warmly welcomed by our constituents, elected members and staff, and all the more so because he has never sought the limelight.

“He is a famously humble leader who has always focussed on serving his ‘bosses’ out bush and getting the job done. His integrity is legendary.”

Mr Ross was part of the Aboriginal leadership group that advised former Prime Minister Paul Keating about the Native Title Act.

“He has achieved the rare distinction of being both highly respected by the nation’s Aboriginal leaders and all spheres of government,” said Mr Martin-Jard.

Mr Ross joined the CLC as a field officer in 1979 and became its director in 1989.

Apart from a few years in the late 1990s, when he was a full-time commissioner with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and the inaugural executive chair of the Indigenous Land Corporation, he led the CLC until his retirement last year.

He guided its transition from an agency that won land claims for a culturally diverse constituency to an organisation with growing land management and community development programs that provide employment for Aboriginal people on their country and promote investment.

In 2005, Mr Ross became an early champion the Warlpiri Education and Training Trust (WETT), an initiative of a group of female educators from remote communities in the Tanami Desert that has so far invested more than $34 million of gold mining royalties in almost 200 projects for life-long education and training.

“This award-winning bicultural and bilingual program kicked off our broader, cutting edge community development program through which our constituents have invested almost $117 million in projects they control,” Mr Martin-Jard said.

“It has inspired a similar program at the Northern Land Council, and other Aboriginal communities, and organisations around Australia look to it as an example of how they can drive positive change through their income from land use agreements.”

“That the program has grown from strength to strength is due to the extraordinary personal commitment of Mr Ross over the past decade to Aboriginal employment and control.

“The same can be said about our Aboriginal ranger program which started in 2000 and employs a hundred men and women in remote communities and which is close to his heart.”

Also under Mr Ross’ leadership, the CLC recently negotiated agreements for two pipeline projects that have together involved investment of more than $1 billion.

It negotiated with multiple groups of traditional owners and yet delivered the projects on time and on budget.

The first of these pipelines supplies gas to the eastern states, thereby addressing the acute shortage, and the second lowers carbon emissions by replacing diesel with gas at Newmont Goldcorp’s mine in the Tanami.

MEDIA CONTACT: Elke Wiesmann | 0417 877 579| media@clc.org.au

The Central Land Council says the family of Kumanjayi Walker deserves an inquiry without delay that is independent of the Northern Territory police, fully transparent and thorough.

Passing on his condolences to the family during a rally outside the police headquarters in Alice Springs today, CLC CEO Joe Martin-Jard said the family needs to learn the truth as soon as possible.

“We want full transparency, we want to see the body camera evidence, we want it out in the open,” Mr Martin-Jard said.

“I call on the coroner to have this inquiry at Yuendumu and give families the chance to talk to him,” he said.

Mr Martin-Jard and CLC deputy chair Barbara Shaw commended the community’s elders who called for calm and want this inquiry to get to the truth quickly.

“The elders kept the community together, respectfully and peacefully,” Ms Shaw said.

“They have called for an inquest and for it to happen at Yuendumu so people feel safe to share their own stories in their community. That’s what they have requested, that’s what they need support for and that’s what we stand by.”

Ms Shaw, a youth worker, said the shooting came less than two weeks after a constructive discussion between the CLC delegates and a high ranking police officer at Yulara Pulka outstation.

Ms Shaw said the death of a teenager in custody and the stories she hears nightly from young people in her care have shaken her confidence in the ability of the police to repair their relationship with remote communities any time soon.

“I’m a person who’s supposed to be building the relationship between the police and our people but now I feel very disappointed.”

“We’re all going to have to take the long road because if this can happen to a 19-year old this can happen to a little 13 year old who’s walking the streets at night.”

Ms Shaw called on communities and Aboriginal organisations to work together in support of the coronial inquest.

“This coroner’s report has to look at the police and all the health and social issues that have contributed to the death,” she said.

MEDIA CONTACT: Elke Wiesmann | 0417 877 579| media@clc.org.au

Alyawarr [pronounced Al-YA-war] speakers from the Aherrenge [pronounced AH-run-ga] land holding group will join the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, to celebrate the handback of pastoral lease land in the Northern Territory’s Sandover region.

During a ceremony at Ampilatwatja, 325 kilometres north east of Alice Springs, Mr Wyatt will return approximately 31 square kilometres of station land adjoining the Aherrenge Aboriginal Land Trust to its traditional owners.

During the ceremony at 10 am on Wednesday, 6 November, traditional owners plan to dance to celebrate the handback.

Speaking on their behalf, traditional owner Tony Morton said: “We are really happy for Minister Wyatt to hand our land back to us.”

The handback will complete a native title claim settlement from 2014.

Five years ago, the native title holders agreed not to pursue exclusive possession native title rights over a number of former stock routes and a former stock reserve that run through the pastoral lease.

Instead, they allowed to add those areas to the lease.

In exchange, the pastoralist and the Northern Territory agreed to support adding an area of station land adjacent to Ampilatwatja to the land trust area.

The Central Land Council negotiated for the block to be excised from the station and scheduled as inalienable freehold title under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act.

“That the native title holders agreed to the land swap demonstrates that Aboriginal and pastoralist interests can align in mutually beneficial ways,” said CLC CEO Joe Martin-Jard.

The 2014 native title determination incorporated the Ammaroo, Derry Downs, Murray Downs and Elkedra stations.

The native title application was filed in 2001, in response to traditional owners’ concerns over future mining and horticultural development on their land.

They wanted to ensure they would be able to continue to protect their sacred sites and to be consulted about exploration and development on their country.

The Kaytetye Alyawarr Awenyerraperte Ingkerr-wenh Aboriginal Corporation [pronounced KAY-ditch Al-YA-war AWEN-yir-apur-ta In-GER-wen] Aboriginal Corporation is the native title body corporate that exercises these rights and interests on behalf of its members.

MEDIA CONTACT: Elke Wiesmann | 0417 877 579| media@clc.org.au

CLC delegate Sabella Turner spoke at the Council meeting.

The Central Land Council has rejected a legislated Aboriginal voice to parliament.

Meeting at an outstation near Uluru today, the delegates passed the following resolution unanimously:

“Council sees that governments change.

We are the Aboriginal voice of central Australia. We are tired of government changing laws that affect our lives.

Our laws were here first, they are the original laws of this land.

Our systems of governance are still strong. Our voice needs to be embedded in the foundations of this nation.

We reject symbolic recognition in the constitution.

We want to be part of designing the voice to parliament. We demand that it be protected in the constitution.”

The CLC delegates heard from former Referendum Council members Professor Megan Davis and Pat Anderson, and Anangu leader Sally Scales before they debated the resolution.

They were concerned that a legislated voice can be abolished by the stroke of a pen.

“The abolition of ATSIC is still fresh in the minds of our members,” CLC chair Sammy Wilson said.

“This government will be struggling to win over Aboriginal people in the heart of the nation for its plans.”

For images of the council meeting go to http://tiny.cc/3u6bfz

MEDIA CONTACT: Elke Wiesmann | 0417877579| media@clc.org.au

The Central Land Council will join the Anangu [AR–nung-u] traditional owners of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park as they mark with inma [ceremonies] the closure of the Uluru climb.

Hundreds of Anangu from remote communities in the cross-border region of the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia will gather near Uluru at sunset on Sunday, 27 October, to celebrate the climbing chain coming off the Rock at last.

“We will be dancing because enough people are finally accepting and respecting our point of view and we can all be proud of this,” said traditional owner and CLC chair Sammy Wilson.

“We want the land council members by our side as we celebrate because they have always backed us. Their past and present leaders have helped us get our land back in 1985 and supported us all the way to close the climb.”

“Now we can start a new chapter in the history of our country and welcome the world to experience it through our eyes,” he said.

Mr Wilson has been taking Australian and international tourists to his family’s homeland near Uluru since 2016 and has seen the number of visitors looking for authentic experiences increase.

He is not the only traditional owner working in tourism. Anangu have also been working with the CLC, government and industry to plan alternative visitor attractions.

Mr Wilson says the traditional owners want more support to develop and operate tourism experiences that not only make people open their wallets but their hearts and minds as well.

“You never know whether the little boy or the little girl you are taking on your tour and teaching about your culture may grow up to be the leader of the country one day,” Mr Wilson said.

CLC CEO Joe Martin-Jard said the closure of the climb is one of the rare occasions since the handback and subsequent leaseback of the park to the federal government that the traditional owners are asserting their sovereignty and cultural authority.

“For more than three decades, Anangu went along with joint management even though there were limited benefits and they put up with pressure to let tourists climb over their sacred sites,” Mr Martin-Jard said.

“We look forward to a brighter future as we celebrate an act of self-determination that is every bit as momentous as their decision in 2005 to use their share of the park’s gate money to drive their own community development priorities.”

Since then, Anangu have invested more than $14 million of their gate money in more than 100 community benefit projects such as pools, stores and churches, as well as education, health and culture initiatives in the communities where their families live.

“Their decision to use their collective income to strengthen their communities is arguably the best thing for Anangu to have come out of the handback so far,” he said.

Ntaria residents fixed up their historic cemetery where loved ones are also buried outside the walls.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner faces tough questions about his government’s proposed burial legislation when he attends the Central Land Council meeting on 28 October at Yulara Pulka.

Meeting in Alice Springs ahead of the council meeting, the CLC’s executive was deeply disappointed to learn that a committee of the NT Legislative Assembly ignored its submission to amend Burial and Cremation Bill 2019, as well as the submissions of all other Aboriginal organisations.

“If the government goes along with the recommendation of the Social Policy Scrutiny Committee to pass the bill without the amendments Aboriginal people are seeking, it will have to answer to their elected representatives,” said CLC CEO Joe Martin-Jard.

Mr Martin-Jard said Aboriginal people want to follow their traditions when burying their loved ones on their homelands and outstations, without undue interference from a passing parade of powerful public servants.

“Our members believe the draft bill gives too much power to unelected officials who will be able to threaten people with jail or fines of tens of thousands of dollars for burying their loved ones on their land, in accordance with their customs,” Mr Martin-Jard said.

“The new law would allow faceless bureaucrats in Darwin to make up the rules as they go along, at the expense of the most incarcerated and poorest people in the country. We want to see regulations that limit their power.”

Under the draft legislation, the fine for burying someone without the consent of the bureaucracy will go up from two to 200 penalty points ($31,000), or a two year jail term.

Mr Martin-Jard said CLC members don’t object to sensible restrictions for health and safety reasons – for example, no burials near drinking water sources and houses – but they don’t believe bereaved people should have to appeal to the NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal to get bureaucratic decisions overturned.

“It is just heartless to put people through this when they are grieving,” he said.

The CLC executive also objected strongly to the new law opening the door for fee gouging at local government-run cemeteries.

“The bill allows the cash-strapped shires to set their own fees for funerals,” Mr Martin-Jard said.

“Aboriginal people out bush already struggle with the high costs of funerals and want the government to cap these fees.”

“We urge Mr Gunner to come to our council meeting with amendments that respect our members’ burial rites and rights.”

The Central Land Council has called climate strikers to think of remote community residents who are most at risk from the climate emergency.

“CLC members and workers will join striking students and their supporters from across the Northern Territory and I support their right to take this action,” CLC chair Sammy Wilson said.

“I call on them to spare a thought for Aboriginal people out bush who may not be able to travel to the strikes but who are already suffering most during our hotter, longer and drier summers,” Mr Wilson said.

“I am dreading another summer like the last one because it is especially tough on our old and sick people who live in overcrowded, poor quality houses.”

With many remote communities under severe water stress, water shortages and quality topped the list of policy priorities endorsed by the CLC’s elected delegates at their most recent council meeting in August.

The delegates want to live sustainably on their country and see water rights and liveable houses as central to their future and are prepared to fight for a safe environment.

“The government gave us the land back but not the water. Water is the new land rights,” Mr Wilson said.

Following the NT’s hottest summer on record, and the driest in almost three decades, the delegates also nominated climate change and water security as high policy priorities.

“Last summer many people were struggling to sleep. We heard about people taking turns in the coolest parts of the house,” Mr Wilson said.

“Most of our people live in concrete boxes and can’t afford to run air conditioners around the clock. Many don’t have working fridges to keep food safe for eating, so they are very likely to get sick.”

Mr Wilson said we must listen to scientists who are predicting that the poorest people in the hottest countries will be hardest hit by climate change.

“Aboriginal people want to be part of the solution. We want to have access to clean technologies such as solar power so that our children have the chance to keep living on our traditional country.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Marie Rançon | 0467 879 254 or 08 8951 6215| media@clc.org.au

Aboriginal organisations in the Northern Territory have expressed deep concerns that the Federal Government plans to rush through a bill to impose a new form of compulsory income management in the NT despite months of advocacy from Aboriginal Peak Organisation NT (APONT) on the need for greater discussion and consultation on the ground.

“The bill would significantly alter the controversial income management that is already in place in the Northern Territory and put it in place indefinitely, yet communities are largely unaware of the proposed changes. Parliament must refer the bill to a Senate inquiry at the very least,” Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) CEO John Paterson said.

“This feels like the Howard era Intervention all over again. The last time the government intervened in the NT, and did things to us instead of with us, it failed at great cost to families and communities,” Mr Paterson said.

“This directly opposes recent commitments by the Federal Government and COAG to work with us in partnership on Closing the Gap. Aboriginal people in the NT will be most affected by this new form of top-down control and deserve the chance to give evidence. Without due consideration this proposal makes a mockery of government rhetoric around Aboriginal controlled decision making,” he said.

The Director of the Arnhem Land Progress Association (ALPA), Keith Lapulung, said “This legislation will be dropped into our communities from outside with no consultation and no understanding. It will take away peoples’ choice and control, their rights and self-determination.”

“It will add to the negative effects of the Intervention in our communities, not only taking away peoples control over their lives but by making it harder for small Indigenous businesses who may not be able to accept the card to survive,” Mr Lapulung said.

“We don’t want this to come to our communities and take away peoples’ dreams of running their own small business,” Micky Wunungmurra, ALPA’s deputy chair and the Traditional Credit Union’s chair added.

The Australian National Audit Office has described the Cashless Debit Card evaluation the Federal Government keeps quoting as “inadequate”. The card has also been criticised by the parliament’s expert committee on human rights and a robust evaluation of four years of compulsory income management in the NT was equally damning.

Contact: John Paterson (CEO AMSANT): 0418 904 727 | Liam Flanagan: Manager Community Services ALPA: 0417 355 036

Northern Territory artist and senior law woman Eunice Napanangka Jack has won the $15,000 Vincent Lingiari Art Award prize for her painting Kuruyultu.

The widely acclaimed artist from the remote community of Ikuntji (Haasts Bluff), approximately three hours’ drive west of Alice Springs, doesn’t only paint her country – she also wears it on her body.

“I have a scar on my back from it,” Ms Jack said. “It happened before I was born.”

Ms Jack said the night before she was born, approximately 80 years ago, her mother’s father ate a wallaby he had speared at Kuruyultu, a site near the remote community of Tjukurla in Western Australia.

“At the same time my heavily pregnant mother could feel me moving inside her.

“Only my father knows all the stories for that country, and he painted them too. I know the story of the wallaby which left me with a birthmark. That’s what I paint,” she said.

This year’s award judge Glenn Iseger-Pilkington said Ms Jack’s work “speaks to the story of her life, her birth and her cultural inheritance, which informs all that she paints, all that’s she is, and where she belongs”.

“I was taken aback with the sense of movement, balance and energy held within a modest sized canvas rendered in blues, oranges, varying shades of golden creams and pale yellows. It is a painting which is quiet and reflective yet simultaneously bold and energetic.”

Ms Jack has held 11 solo exhibitions and has been a finalist in many art prestigious awards, including several times in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, but this is only her second art prize.

Desart and the Central Land Council joined forces for only the second time to present the Vincent Lingiari Art Award.

Mr Lingiari’s granddaughters were present when Ms Jack was named the winner at the Tangentyere Artists Gallery in Alice Springs on Wednesday night.

The CLC’s deputy chair Barbara Shaw also announced the winner of the CLC Delegates’ Choice Award on the night.

“At their council meeting in August at Ross River, our delegates picked a small painting by David Frank which celebrates a successful handback of land near Ernabella in the early 80s,” Ms Shaw said.

“It’s the second time they voted for one of Mr Frank’s works. They really like a good handback.”

Mr Frank, from Iwantja Arts, also won the first CLC Delegates’ Choice Award in 2016.

The inaugural Vincent Lingiari Art Award celebrated 40 years since the passage of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (ALRA) and 50 years since the Wave Hill Walk Off.

The 23 entries from across central Australia and beyond in this year’s award reflect the artists’ personal truths.

They tell stories ranging from the fallout of the Maralinga nuclear tests to reconciliation, housing and road construction in media such as sculpture, ceramic, video installation and painting.

Aboriginal artists and art centres in the CLC region as well as Desart member centres and individual Aboriginal artists close to the CLC region with strong links to Aboriginal land in the region were eligible to enter in the award.

The Vincent Lingiari Art Award exhibition runs until 18th October at the Tangentyere Artists Gallery at 16 Fogarty Street in Alice Springs.

It has been generously funded by the Peter Kittle Motor Company and Newmont Goldcorp.

Media contacts: Philip Watkins, eo@desart.com.au, 0403 193 266 and Elke Wiesmann, elke.wiesmann@clc.org.au, 0417 877 579.

Desart and the Central Land Council have joined forces for the second time to present the Vincent Lingiari Art Award.

Mr Lingiari’s granddaughters will be present when the winner of the $15,000 Aboriginal art prize is announced at the exhibition opening at the Tangentyere Artists Gallery in Alice Springs on Wednesday, 4 September, at 6pm.

Just like the inaugural Vincent Lingiari Art Award in 2016, which celebrated 40 years since the passage of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (ALRA) and 50 years since the Wave Hill Walk Off, this year’s award is unashamedly political.

The theme True Story – My Country resonates with the Uluru Statement’s call for truth telling.

CLC chair Sammy Wilson, one of the hosts of the 2017 convention that agreed on the statement, said Australia needs to face up to its colonial history before it can move forward as a reconciled nation.

“Anangu believe that if you don’t know your tjukurpa – your country’s stories, songs and ceremonies – you remain a child, no matter how old you get,” Mr Wilson said.

“This is true for people and for nations. You can’t grow up without facing the hard things. As a person, you have to keep opening the doors of deeper knowledge. If Australia doesn’t open the next door it will be stuck.”

“The Uluru Statement – voice, treaty and truth – is the next door and our art is a key to that door,” he said.

The 23 entries from across central Australia and beyond reflect the artists’ personal truths.

“The works tell stories ranging from the fallout of the Maralinga nuclear tests to reconciliation, housing and road construction,” said Desart CEO Philip Watkins.

He congratulated the artists and thanked Glenn Isegar Pilkington for agreeing to judge the award.

“Glenn is a highly respected Nhanda and Nyoongar artist, writer and curator with an impressive practice working alongside our communities,” he said.

Aboriginal artists and art centres in the CLC region were eligible to enter works in any medium, and the exhibition features sculptures, ceramics, video installations and paintings.

Desart member centres and individual Aboriginal artists close to the CLC region with strong links to Aboriginal land in the region also entered works.

CLC members again elected the winner of the Delegates’ Choice Award and will announce the winner of the $2,000 prize on Wednesday evening.

The CLC and Desart created the Vincent Lingiari Art Award to celebrate the shared history of land rights and the Aboriginal art movement which evolved at the same time, share the same roots and have both empowered Aboriginal people.

Marlene Rubuntja, from Alice Springs, won the inaugural prize for her sculpture My future is in my hands.

The Vincent Lingiari Art Award exhibition will be open until the 18 October and has been generously funded by the Peter Kittle Motor Company and Newmont Goldcorp.

Media contacts: Philip Watkins, eo@desart.com.au, 0403 193 266 and Elke Wiesmann, elke.wiesmann@clc.org.au, 0417 877 579.

Traditional owners of Tennant Creek Station will celebrate the recognition of their native title rights on the pastoral property.

Justice Charlesworth will hand down a non-exclusive native title consent determination over an area of approximately 3650 square kilometres to seven landholding groups, during a Federal Court sitting near Lirripi (LIRR-ipi), on the cattle station some 36 kilometres south of Tennant Creek, on Thursday 4 July at 10:30 am.

The seven land holding groups with traditional attachment to the claim area are Kankawarla (GAN-ga-war-la), Kanturrpa (GAN-tur-pa), Kurtinja (KUR –tin-ja), Patta (BA-ta), Pirttangu (BIR-tang-oo), Purrurtu (BUR-rur-doo) and Warupunju (WAR-u-pun-ju).

“Native Title gives us a say over what is happening on our country and to protect our sacred sites and dreamings. If mining or gas companies want to come onto our country, they have to sit down with us and negotiate,” said native title holder Jerry Kelly.

“The determination recognises the rights of the native title holders to hunt and gather on the land and waters and to conduct cultural activities and ceremonies,” said Francine McCarthy, the CLC’s manager of native title.

“It gives them the right to negotiate exploration and mining agreements, but unlike on Aboriginal land, they have no veto right.”

Ms McCarthy is also one of the native title holders of Tennant Creek Station.

“We can go onto country to teach our younger generations about sacred sites and dreamings, and work with the station owner to protect our waterholes, with the help of the Tennant Creek Rangers,” said Gladys Brown, native title holder.

The CLC lodged the native title application in October 2017, following mining and other development interests within Tennant Creek pastoral lease.

Tennant Creek pastoral lease, which will continue to operate as a cattle station, is home to many cultural and historical places of significance to Aboriginal people.

“Their elders and ancestors were born, lived and worked on Tennant Creek Station since the early 1900s,” said Francine McCarthy.

Like Phillip Creek Station to the north, native title holders were unsuccessful in purchasing the station in the early 2000s when it was placed on the market.

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE 10 DESERTS PROEJCT/CLC

The Central Land Council (CLC) recently completed feral camel control work in remote central Australia areas in conjunction with the 10 Deserts Project (the project).

Mr Peter Donohoe manager – land management, CLC said “Over 1000 camels and other feral animals were removed in an area covering over 27,000 sq kms area after consultation with traditional owners”.

“Being able to leverage funding for control work from the project has enabled the CLC to conduct feral camel management in the remote Katiti Petermann Indigenous Protected Area and Haasts Bluff area of central Australia”, Mr Donohoe stated.

“The Indigenous land owners have been proactive in wanting to manage this problem on their lands as it deeply impacts on their natural and cultural assets. We will continue to work collaboratively with the 10 Deserts Project and the Northern Territory government to continue this important control work”, he continued.

The project is working in collaboration with CLC, Indigenous project partners and key stakeholders to fund and implement control work. This work is complex and requires the consent of traditional owners and the cooperation of land managers, and the Northern Territory, South Australian and Western Australian governments.

Mr Peter See, general manager 10 Deserts Project said, “The 10 Deserts Project is committed to supporting Indigenous organisations that want to manage feral camels on their country and we have allocated nearly $2 million over the coming four years for control work”.

“On past experience feral camels do enormous damage to native flora and fauna, and cultural sites particularly waterholes. When conditions are harsh, they move into remote communities looking for water and do significant damage to infrastructure and houses”, he continued.

Feral camels roam across 3.3 million square kilometres of Australia’s rangeland. This incorporates a range of different land tenures including Aboriginal Lands, pastoral and mining leases, conservation lands and Crown Land.

With the consent of traditional owners, the project completed its first camel control work with the CLC. Although the number of feral camels culled was relatively low it is expected that this figure will increase in future control work.

Figure 1: Estimated camel densities following 2013 aerial surveys (source: Andy Bubb)

“Feral camels don’t worry about state or territory borders, fences or boundaries; the problem is truly a national issue. Because of the cross-jurisdictional nature of the issue the most effective way to deal with it is to collaborate. The aim is to remove as many feral camels from the landscape as quickly as possible”, Mr See said.

The 10 Deserts Project is led by Desert Support Services and aims to build the capacity of Indigenous groups to look after country for a range of economic, social, cultural and environmental outcomes.

Download the PDF

For media enquiries:

10 Deserts Project: Shelley Doyle | M: 0477 222 117 | E: media@dss.org.au

Native title holders of Central Australia will gather at the Ross River resort for the inaugural Prescribed Body Corporate Regional Forum, on 18-21 June 2019.

The week-long event will support around 140 directors from the 29 PBCs from the Central Land Council region to share their stories, develop their knowledge and skills, and obtain a greater understanding of the opportunities native title can provide.

“This unprecedented event has been tailored to the unique needs and circumstances of remote native title holders,” said the CLC’s manager of native title, Francine McCarthy.

“It will give PBC directors an opportunity to network, learn more about PBCs, and have a stronger voice for their country.”

The Central Land Council, the National Native Title Council and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet have been working closely to bring the forum to Central Australia.

“It will be a unique event to deliver valuable information to PBC Directors about the range of funding and support available across Government and assist in organisational development,” said Jamie Lowe, acting CEO of the National Native Title Council.

A prescribed body corporate is a corporation required to be nominated by a group of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples to hold and manage their native title rights and interests when that group has succeeded in having their native title recognised in a Federal Court determination.

“I am excited to learn about the roles of PBCs and to get a better understanding of how PBCs work,” said Nikkita Crafter, member of the Patta Aboriginal Corporation.

The CLC will take this opportunity to introduce the recently established PBC Support Unit and gain invaluable feedback from PBC Directors on issues and challenges encountered.

Native Title and Prescribed Body Corporates explained here

Native title holders from the Imarnte [Ee-MAN-ta] land holding group are getting ready to celebrate the long awaited determination of native title over the Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve they call Wurre [WOOR-rah].

The families will be gathering at the Rainbow Valley ranger station on Tuesday, 7 May at 3.30pm, to hear Justice Reeves hand down a non-exclusive consent determination over an area of approximately 25 square kilometres.

The reserve, an hour’s drive south of Alice Springs, contains important sacred sites and is of great cultural significance to native title holders from the Southern Arrernte language group, many of whom live on nearby outstations.

“Rainbow Valley has always been our country, handed down from grandfather to grandfather,” said native title holder Eric Braedon.

“It was a big ceremony place for all Imarnte people from all different areas of Imarnte country. All came in to do ceremony until the white man came and moved us to Maryvale Station,” Mr Braedon said.

The determination area has been jointly managed by the native title holders and the NT Parks & Wildlife Commission (PWC) since 2005.

The native title holders have worked alongside PWC rangers to manage the reserve for visitors and to protect its cultural and natural values, for example through weed and fire management and building tracks.

When the Central Land Council negotiated the joint management arrangement with the Northern Territory the government agreed to consent to a native title claim over the area.

However, it did not agree to the lodgement of the claim until June 2018.

“The determination means that native title holders can use the area in accordance with their traditional laws and customs,” said the CLC’s manager of native title, Francine McCarthy.

“It recognises that their cultural connection to Wurre dates back to time immemorial, and acknowledges how much the area means to them.”

“Their native title rights will co-exist with the use of Wurre as a conservation reserve,” Ms McCarthy said.

Native title holder Ricky Orr has conducted cultural tours to his country since 2008.

“The area is a very important meeting place for visiting in the good times when food and water are plentiful and, most significantly, as a men’s ceremonial ground,” Mr Orr said.

The native title holders will exercise their rights through their prescribed body corporate, the Wura Aboriginal Corporation.

Central Land Council delegates have elected Sammy Wilson as CLC chair and Barbara Shaw as deputy chair at their meeting at Yulara Pulka outstation near Uluru.

Mr Wilson, the chair of the board of joint management of the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park and owner/operator of cultural tourism company Uluru Family Tours, pipped Ms Shaw by four votes.

“It feels very special to be elected on my grandfather Paddy Uluru’s country,” Mr Wilson said.

“I think he would be very happy.”

Mr Wilson, from Mutitjulu community, vowed to pursue the Uluru Statement from the Heart with whoever wins the coming federal election.

“I will tell them we’re not about taking over the government. We want to sit down with them at the same table and be listened to.”

Ms Shaw was elected deputy chair with 41 votes, only the second woman in the CLC’s history to win the office.

“My election results shows that the Central Land Council is ready for change,” she said.

Ms Shaw is a youth worker at the Tangentyere’s Brown Street Youth Drop-in Centre and works with Tangentyere’s womens family safety group targeting domestic violence in Alice Springs town camps.

She represents the Northern Territory on the Uluru Statement working group, and has been employed by the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT.

Ms Shaw stood as a Green Party candidate for the seat of Lingiari in 2010 and 2013.

Elected CLC delegates from 75 remote communities and outstations across the south of the Northern Territory also voted for the members of the CLC’s executive and the Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA) advisory committee.

Mr Wilson thanked the outgoing CLC chair, Francis Kelly, for his six years of service and presented him with a kulata (spear) and spear thrower (mirru).

The CLC election was carried out by the Northen Territory Electoral Commission.

See the high resolution images of the election.

The Central Land Council welcomes the appointment of Marion Scrymgour, the Territory’s first female land council CEO.

CLC chair Francis Kelly said the appointment of a woman to the Northern Land Council’s top administrative position was an historic achievement and a win for equality.

“It’s another first for Marion, from first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the NT’s Legislative Assembly to first female land council CEO,” Mr Kelly said.

“I am sure she will be a good leader for the NLC and make them all proud.”

CLC CEO Joe Martin-Jard congratulated the NLC executive on having made a fine choice.

Mr Martin-Jard has known his new counterpart for many years and has come to highly respect her.

“Marion’s and my paths have crossed for two decades. I admire her tenacity and inclusivity and know how much she cares for Territorians from all walks of life,” he said.

“I am sure we will work well together. Marion will build on Joe Morrison’s positive legacy and provide the Northern Land Council with the stability it deserves.”

He said Ms Scrymgour has family ties to the CLC region through her father and, having worked in the NLC’s legal and land management sections in the 1980s, has first hand knowledge of the challenging work of the land councils.

“I look forward to working with Marion on tackling some of the common priorities of our constituents, none of them more urgent than sorting out the housing crisis in remote communities.”

Photo: Watarrka Foundation

The traditional owners of the iconic Watarrka (Kings Canyon) National Park in the Northern Territory have combined their rent income from the park with private donations to build a secondary classroom to keep their children at school for longer.

An open plan classroom, computer room and teachers office will be launched on Saturday, 9th March at 10am with a smoking ceremony at Lilla outstation, more than four hours south west of Alice Springs.

Traditional owner Sadie Williams said the $320,000 investment will enable local students to stay living with their families in surrounding outstations while they continue their studies at the Watarrka school until year 10.

“We have fought hard over many years for our primary school to stay open so that our kids can get a good bilingual and bicultural education on country,” Ms Williams said.

“We put some of our own money to build a high school out bush for our children. Kids won’t get homesick like when they have to go away to school in cities. It makes our kids feel happy and safe living at home with their families and going to high school.”

“Education is very important to us and we know that keeping our kids at home for as long as possible will give them a better chance to succeed in life,” she said.

The traditional owners invested $135,000 of their collective rent income in the project, while the not-for-profit Watarrka Foundation raised the balance from a variety of sources over an 18 month period.

The Central Land Council’s community development program supported the traditional owners to plan and monitor the construction project in partnership with the foundation.

“These community-driven initiatives are more likely to help close the education gap than top-down government programs because the childrens’ families are engaged and are using their own income,” said CLC chief executive Joe Martin-Jard.

The traditional owners’ investment in the secondary classroom project builds on their earlier decisions to spend more than $180,000 for education support projects for the Watarrka outstations and their school.

“The right to access an education in your home environment is an accepted human right and we are proud of having contributed towards providing this to the families in Watarrka,” said Watarrka Foundation chair Paul Jensen.

Christine Munro, a teacher at the Watarrka school and a member of the foundation’s advisory group, provided on-site support to the secondary classroom project.

Before the project, she had to teach up to 25 students of all ages in one small classroom.

“Having an additional classroom has enabled us to separate the students into age groups and give them each more focused attention which is helping them to learn faster.”

“The kids love the space and volunteered an entire Saturday to help shift, carry and organise our learning materials.

“Just knowing the world out there cares about their education is making a difference. It’s a joy to teach smiling children.”

Media contacts: Marie Rançon, media@clc.org.au, 0467 879 254 / Paul Jensen, 0419 603 330, paul@watarrkafoundation.org.au.

The CLC Chairman, Mr Francis Kelly, today welcomed the decision of the Australian Government to support the CLC’s work on remote housing. The $300,000 will be used to ensure that Aboriginal people in our region have a strong voice on housing matters, and to develop a new approach to housing services in remote communities, in partnership with both levels of government.

“Instead of talking about us and around us, government should be talking to us” said CLC Chairman, Francis Kelly.

The Central Land Council has consistently voiced its concern about the state of housing in remote Aboriginal communities and the system for delivering housing services over the last decade.

The system is characterised by chronic overcrowding, poor housing conditions, maintenance that does not get done, policies and procedures that are culturally alien and absurdly complex, and management systems that are dysfunctional and unresponsive.

“For more than ten years we have been calling for a new approach where Aboriginal people themselves are at the table providing advice on the design and implementation of a new housing system for remote communities,” said Mr Kelly.

The CLC recognises the important role of both the Commonwealth and Territory governments in housing for remote communities – but if Aboriginal people are not fully involved in the design and delivery of the system that provides that housing then it will fail as it has done for more than a decade. We seek a partnership that respects the interests and contributions of all parties.

We are very concerned that negotiations between the Commonwealth and Territory in relation to the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing, that seemed to be moving positively in 2018, appear to have reached an impasse.

We reiterate our call for both Governments to negotiate in good faith so that the funds both levels of government have committed can be unlocked and used to deliver desperately needed new housing in our remote communities. The people who really suffer as a consequence of the continued bickering between levels of government are the old, the sick, and the children in our communities. Poor housing means poor physical and mental health, exacerbates social tensions within families and communities, provides barriers to schooling, and hampers participation in the workforce.

The CLC stands ready and willing to meet with both levels of government to progress what is our number one priority – decent housing for our people!

Central Land Council chair Francis Kelly has welcomed the appointment of Professor Mick Dodson as the Northern Territory‘s treaty commissioner and invited him to the CLC’s council meeting near Uluru in early April.

Today’s announcement clears the way for consultations with Aboriginal Territorians to find out if they want a treaty or multiple treaties with the NT government.

“I can’t think of a better listener and advocate for our people than Mick Dodson,” Mr Kelly said.

“The Barunga Agreement our four land councils negotiated with the government will be his roadmap for the consultations.”

“When we signed the agreement, last June at Barunga, we said we only bounced the ball,” he said.

“Now it’s time for all Aboriginal people to run with the ball and have their say about treaty.”

In negotiating the agreement the land councils made sure that the treaty commissioner role is independent and adequately resourced to consult widely.

“I have no doubt that Mick’s report to the NT government will reflect the informed views of the Territory’s Aboriginal peoples on this complex issue,” said CLC chief executive Joe Martin –Jard.

“We will hold the government to its commitment to give him the time and resources he needs,” Mr Martin-Jard said.

He said the grass roots deliberations leading up to the Uluru Statement were a good model for informed decision making around a complex set of questions.

The Barunga Agreement, which was negotiated in the first half of 2018, sets out the principles for progressing a treaty or treaties in the NT.

“The agreement was the result of much hard work on behalf of the CLC and the other land councils,” Mr Martin-Jard said.

“When you consider that these processes in other jurisdictions have taken years this was a significant achievement.”

When the land councils took the initiative and wrote to the government about a treaty they always intended to throw the process wide open.

“We have maintained throughout that it is not up to the land councils alone to negotiate with the government, but a matter for all Aboriginal people in the NT”, Mr Martin-Jard said.

“Every Aboriginal person and community must now get the chance inform themselves and put forward their views on whether or not they want a treaty and, if so, what should be covered.”

The Barunga Agreement is here

Traditional owners of four Aboriginal land trusts west of Alice Springs today gave consent to cull feral horses while a community meeting at Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa) agreed how to safely dispose of horse carcasses.

At a meeting at Ntaria (Hermannsburg) traditional owners instructed the Central Land Council to organise an aerial cull to alleviate the suffering of other feral horses near the remote community.

The cull is scheduled to take place next week on the Ntaria [pronounced DA-rie], Rodna [pronounced ROD-nuh], Roulpmaulpma [pronounced ROULP-malp-muh] and Ltalaltuma [pronounced LA-la-too-muh] Aboriginal land trusts.

It will take place in a 3,182 square kilometre area and is expected to cost at least $19,000, with CLC staff providing ground support to the Parks and Wildlife Service.

Traditional owners were concerned about the feral horses’ poor condition and their impact on native animals, country and infrastructure.

They decided that the cull go ahead as soon as possible to minimise further suffering.

Meanwhile, a community meeting at Ltyentye Apurte this morning decided to move the bodies of horses that previously perished near a waterhole approximately 20 kilometres from the community to an area where they will not present a biohazard.

Last Friday, the CLC culled more than 50 feral horses after its Aboriginal ranger team found 90 dead and dying brumbies at the Apwerte Uyerreme [pronounced POUR-da YOU-rum] waterhole a day earlier.

The meeting participants, including residents, a local Aboriginal corporation and the MacDonnell Regional Council, agreed with traditional owners of the Santa Teresa Aboriginal Land Trust who want to “let the sun do its work” rather than to bury or burn the bodies.

They agreed to work together on a long-term management plan to attempt to avoid mass feral animal deaths in the future.

Last year the CLC sought additional resources to help traditional owners in the Ltyentye Apurte, Ntaria, Tennant Creek and Ti Tree regions to develop ‘Healthy Country’ management plans.

It expects the NT government to honour its commitment to contribute $200,000 towards these plans, which would be developed with the relevant traditional owners.

The plans would help Aboriginal rangers to manage feral animal numbers and enable traditional owners to muster and sell healthy animals.

More emergency culls are likely on Aboriginal land, following weeks of temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius.

Horses and other feral animals are dying of thirst and hunger because water sources are depleted and overpopulation has led to erosion and vegetation loss.

Brumby bodies near Santa Teresa. Source: Facebook/Ralph Turner

The Central Land Council last week culled more than 50 feral horses at Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa) after its Aboriginal ranger team found 90 dead and dying brumbies at Apwerte Uyerreme [pronounced POUR-da YOU-rum] waterhole near the community.

It is also consulting with another remote community about an emergency cull.

Horses and other feral animals are dying of thirst and hunger because many reliable water sources, such as Apwerte Uyerreme, have dried up in the current heatwave and areas overpopulated by feral animals suffer erosion and vegetation loss.

As horse carcasses foul water holes that native animals depend on these, too, die.

The CLC and its constituents are very concerned about both feral and native animals in the current heat wave.

On Monday, CLC staff spoke with residents and traditional owners of another remote community where feral horses, donkeys and camels are dying of thirst.

Around 120 animals there are watering from a trough near the community and are in too poor a condition for mustering and transport.

The CLC received consent to undertake an aerial cull from those it consulted and scheduled an emergency cull for Friday, 25 January.

However, it has since learned that some residents are opposed to this.

It will therefore hold a community meeting today where government animal welfare officers will also be present.

“Before a cull it is important to get the informed consent of the traditional owners of the Aboriginal land trusts we support,” said CLC director David Ross.

“However in emergencies, such as last week in Ltyentye Apurte, we will go ahead without consent if necessary,” he said.

“With climate change well and truly upon us, we expect these emergencies to occur with increasing frequency and nobody is truly prepared and resourced to respond to them.”

Mr Ross said the CLC is helping traditional owners to prevent them by developing management plans with the four large Indigenous protected areas (IPAs) in its region.

“Aboriginal land trusts, unlike IPAs, lack the resources to develop such plans,” he said.

“That’s why we are pleased that the NT government has committed funds for us to develop ‘Healthy Country’ management plans over the next two years in areas across multiple land tenures, plans that include ranger groups operating in the Tennant Creek, Ti Tree, Ntaria (Hermannsburg) and Ltyentye Apurte regions.”

The plans will allow rangers and traditional owners to keep feral horse, donkey and camel numbers down and allow traditional owners to muster and sell healthy animals where they can find a market.

Next Wednesday, 30 January, the CLC will hold a meeting at Ltyentye Apurte to discuss last week’s cull, how to assist the Santa Teresa Aboriginal Land Trust to dispose of the carcasses and how to avoid mass animal deaths as the climate gets hotter.

Joe Martin Jard

Joe Martin-Jard will become the Central Land Council’s first chief executive officer in the New Year, taking over from retiring CLC director David Ross.

In a unanimous decision, the CLC executive decided to appoint Mr Martin-Jard, a senior federal public servant who was born and raised in the Northern Territory.

The Alice Springs based regional manager in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet will become only the fourth administrative head of the CLC in more than four decades.

“We are very happy that Mr Martin-Jard has accepted our offer. He has a good sense of humour, shares our values and is someone we can all work with,” said CLC chair Francis Kelly.

“He’s got what it takes to succeed in one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs in Aboriginal affairs.”

Mr Martin-Jard’s most recent focus as a public servant has been on Aboriginal employment, economic development and community services.

He also brings experience from the private and non-government sectors to the new role, having held leadership positions in Darwin’s Danila Dilba Health Service and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT and managed a Top End labour hire company.

CLC constituents in the Barkly remember Mr Martin-Jard as ATSIC’s regional manager in Tennant Creek, where he oversaw major housing and infrastructure projects between 2001 and 2004 that created jobs and business opportunities for locals.

Of Kamilaroi descent, he holds tertiary qualifications in international and public sector management.

The appointment concludes a national search for a successor for Mr Ross, who has led the land council since 1989, interrupted by a few years as ATSIC commissioner and executive chair of the Indigenous Land Corporation.

Mr Kelly thanked Mr Ross for his four decades of excellent and dedicated service.

“Rossy has done so much for the CLC – we can’t really thank him enough. We will all miss him but he really deserves a break,” he said.

“He is not just an outstanding director, he is also our longest serving employee.”

Mr Ross started at the CLC in 1979, in a position then called council clerk, and went on to play a significant role in national Aboriginal policy, particularly in relation to land rights and native title.

Mr Kelly said two recent highlights of his leadership were the expansion of the CLC’s successful Aboriginal ranger and community development programs.

“Rossy enjoys enormous respect across the nation, as well as the trust and confidence of his team. The elected members and the staff look forward to carrying on his legacy by supporting his successor,” he said.

Mr Martin-Jard will commence in early February.

A handover period between the CEO and the director will ensure a smooth transition during a time when the CLC’s constituents will also elect a new council.

The Central Land Council celebrates its very first Indigenous Governance Award winner – the Warlpiri Education and Training Trust.

The WETT advisory committee last night won the non-incorporated organisations category of the award for its outstanding bilingual and bicultural education and lifelong learning programs in the Northern Territory’s Tanami Desert.

The committee advises the WETT about how to invest gold mining royalties in community driven initiatives supporting the education and training priorities of four remote communities.

Fiona Gibson, a retired teacher from Nyirrpi community and a founding member of the committee, has helped to plan and monitor some of the CLC’s most successful community development programs since 2005.

Ms Gibson accepted the award on behalf of her colleagues.

“We are very proud of what we have achieved working together and of our young people who are now working with us on the WETT advisory committee,” she said.

“They are keeping education strong in our communities.”

Accepting the award with Ms Gibson was Cynthia Wheeler, the new chair of the WETT advisory committee who works at the Yuendumu school.

From a new generation of educators, Ms Wheeler personifies the achievements of the committee’s succession planning.

“Our message for everyone is that education is the key,” Ms Wheeler told the award night crowd in Melbourne.

“Our vision is for Yapa [Warlpiri speakers] to be strong in their knowledge of culture, country and language and to stand up for our communities.

“Our voices will be heard. We will have the same opportunities as everyone else. Our children will be confident, knowledgeable, disciplined, healthy and respected. They will have good roles and jobs, as will the generations to come.”

Both women thanked the traditional owners of Newmont’s Granites gold mine and paid tribute to CLC director David Ross, one of the WETT’s first and most enthusiastic supporters.

The trust kicked off the CLC’s community development program through which dozens of Aboriginal groups in Central Australia have invested a total of around $100 million from their various land use agreements in projects they drive.

One of these groups, from the remote Alekarenge community, was highly commended at tonight’s awards ceremony.

The WETT started when Ms Gibson and her teacher colleagues from Lajamanu, Yuendumu and Willowra asked Mr Ross to help them invest royalty payments in projects to improve education and training outcomes in their communities.

Since then, the trust spent almost $32 million on projects such as community learning centres, school excursions, early childhood and youth leadership programs, bilingual education resources and a Yapa curriculum.

Bilby Blitz raises questions about threatened species’ main predator

Results from the first national Bilby Blitz are in and the news is mostly good.

Indigenous rangers found signs of bilbies where they expected them to be surviving and there appear to be reasonable numbers of them.

“This suggests there are healthy breeding populations in these last refuges, which are mostly on Aboriginal land,” said the manager of the Central Land Council’s land management section, Peter Donohoe.

The cross border blitz, around the Easter period, collected base line data about the last remaining bilby habitats.

“Indigenous rangers from 11 groups in the Northern Territory and Western Australia found bilby tracks, scats and burrows in 58 of the 249 areas they surveyed with the new tri-lingual Tracks app.”

“The app allowed the rangers to record it in a standardised way in two of their first languages, allowing the results to be compared with future surveys.”

The 249 two hectare areas, known as track plots, which were scoured by rangers for signs of the threatened marsupial, were in places where bilbies were expected to be found, where they had been recorded in the past, or where there was the greatest chance of finding them.

The rangers found signs of new bilby populations at Kiwirrkurra in WA and the northern Tanami in the NT.

The only area where the rangers didn’t find any bilby signs even though some had been sighted there recently, was east of Barrow Creek.

“The rangers found old burrows but no fresh evidence, so more surveys will be needed,” Mr Donohoe said.

They also recorded signs of the bilby’s main predators, cats and foxes.

The findings are raising questions about which feral animal poses a greater threat to bilbies.

“Rangers found cat signs in 111 of the 249 track plots, including where many signs of bilbies were also found,” Mr Donohoe said.

“This means that bilbies can survive living side by side with cats, but we don’t know how many cats is too many.”

Rangers found evidence of foxes in only 50 of the track plots, however, where there were foxes there were fewer or no signs of bilbies, particularly in areas without recent bilby records.

“We found more evidence of bilbies in the areas where there were cats,” he said.

“Perhaps that means that foxes have a greater impact on bilby numbers than cats and that a single fox is one too many.”

“We need to do more research about the dynamics of feral hunters, their relation with the dingo, and their combined impacts on the bilby.”

The base line data from the surveys will inform the Commonwealth’s soon-to-be released bilby recovery plan.

“It’s the first time a Commonwealth threatened species recovery plan has been developed with the assistance of an Aboriginal subcommittee and rangers on that committee have had substantial input,” Mr Donohoe said.

He said the Bilby Blitz data will help land managers and ecologists to detect local changes in biodiversity, as well as monitor broader impacts of feral species and climate change across Australia’s desert regions.

“They will also help our rangers to better manage the country for bilbies through the use of fire and the control of feral animals,” he said.

Additional surveys the rangers carried out since the Bilby Blitz have already borne fruit.

“Recently they captured a male bilby on a sensor camera north of Tennant Creek,” Mr Donohoe said.

“There were also signs of what rangers believe were two females. That’s excellent news.”

The rangers recorded these latest sightings on the Tracks app in Warumungu.

The app, which was designed by the CLC and the CSIRO, has also been translated into Warlpiri.

It is part of a comprehensive threatened species data collection, storage and management system linked to the CSIRO’s Atlas of Living Australia.

As the last bilby refuges today are on Aboriginal land between Central Australia and the Indian Ocean, Aboriginal ranger groups are vital for the survival of the species.

The federal government funded the Bilby Blitz through the Indigenous Desert Alliance.

Professor Mick Dodson and his fellow Indigenous Governance Awards judges are visiting Northern Territory communities this week to meet two Aboriginal groups that are investing millions of dollars of royalty and lease income in community development projects.

Award finalists, the Warlpiri Education and Training Trust (WETT) advisory committee and Alekarenge’s community lease money working group, are competing in the non-incorporated governance category with Tangentyere’s Strong Families for Children project in Arlparra.

All three finalists in this category of the national awards are from central Australia, perhaps because the judges value organisations that embed culture at the heart of everything they do.

“We are looking for organisations and initiatives that have the ability to draw upon traditional governance models to effectively respond to contemporary challenges,” Professor Dodson said.

“As judges we recognise that these projects have been at the response of community need, which has enabled consideration of longer term strategies for change.”

Two groups have been recognised for the great work they’re doing in their communities with the support of the Central Land Council’s community development team.

The WETT has supported lifelong learning projects for Yapa for more than a decade.

In 2017-18 alone, the trust invested almost $6.7 million in 14 new community-driven education and training projects in Yuendumu, Lajamanu, Willowra and Nyirrpi.

That’s on top of 21 ongoing projects ranging from community learning centres and early childhood activities to youth diversion and leadership training.

“We have worked for a long time for WETT, all the educators working hard together to make good decisions for the communities and the programs,” Barbara Napanangka Martin, from Yuendumu, said.

Ms Martin is one of the experienced teachers on the WETT committee that monitors the projects and advises the Kurra Aboriginal Corporation on how to invest royalties from the Granites mine in the Tanami.

She plans to tell the judges about the committee’s succession planning and the five new members under the age of 35 who joined the committee following community elections in 2018.

“We are teaching younger committee members who can learn to be strong,” she said.

Since 2012, Alekarenge invested almost $800,000 of its community lease income in youth media, driver training and school holiday initiatives, as well as sports facility upgrades.

A community working group uniting traditional owners and residents from four language groups and all ages committed a further $265,000 for new projects.

Group member Graham Beasley said winning the award would help Alekarenge.

“The prize money would go into our community projects, doing things for our children and their futures.”

The winner will be announced later this year.

Families affected by the Coniston Massacre from around Australia have tonight gathered at a meeting of the Central Land Council outside Yuendumu, getting ready to remember the innocent men, women and children killed during a series of massacres in 1928.

Early tomorrow morning they will travel to the remote outstation of Yurrkuru (Brooks Soak), approximately three hours north west of Alice Springs, to commemorate with songs, dances, speeches and prayers the 90th anniversary of the killings.

Yurrkuru is the site of the murder of the dingo trapper Fred Brooks which triggered the revenge parties led by Police Constable George Murray between August and October 1928 that have become known as the Coniston Massacre.

The families of an estimated 100 murder victims are planning to speak at the event, alongside members of Constable Murray’s family and political leaders such as Senator Patrick Dodson and NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner.

“We expect up to 400 people to join us for a chance to share the truth about our colonial past with the families of the victims and the murderers,” said Central Land Council chair Francis Kelly.

“We want everyone to know that these massacres didn’t happen during some distant past but 10 years after the end of the First World War,” Mr Kelly said.

“We remember those who lost their lives in that war every year, in every town around Australia. We have a special public holiday for it and lots of memorials everywhere,” he said.

“What about our fallen loved ones?”

Their families unveiled a plaque at Yurrkuru in 2003 and plan to call for annual events commemorating the massacres and for interpretive signs at the many massacre locations.

They also want all school children to be taught about the frontier wars.

Mr Kelly, one of the creators of the documentary Coniston which will be shown at the CLC meeting tonight, said he is particularly pleased to welcome students from surrounding Aboriginal communities to the commemoration.

“Until all Australians know about the crimes committed against our families we can’t move forward as one mob, one country,” he said.

“Other countries with murderous pasts have managed to come together by speaking the truth. If they can do it, why can’t we?”

Truth telling, along with agreement making and an Aboriginal voice to parliament, is a theme of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Traditional owners of Henbury Station, south of Alice Springs, will celebrate the recognition of their native title rights on a pastoral property that they have long wanted to buy.

Justice John Reeves will hand down a non-exclusive native title consent determination over an area of more than 5000 square kilometres to six land holding groups during a Federal Court sitting at Three Mile waterhole on Henbury tomorrow at 11am.

“We been fighting for a long time for the station,” said native title holder and former Central Land Council chair, Bruce Breaden. “I’ve been pushing really hard all the time to get country back, not only for my family but for all Aboriginal people.”

“The determination recognises the rights of the native title holders to hunt and gather on the land and waters and to conduct cultural activities and ceremonies,” said Francine McCarthy, the CLC’s manager of native title.

“It gives them the right to negotiate exploration and mining agreements, but unlike on Aboriginal land, they have no veto right.”

Mr Breaden said the process of applying for native title has still been worthwhile.

“We know native title is not strong like land rights, but it gives us a chance to have a say. We have sacred sites all over Henbury. Native title research was a chance to look around country and show the younger ones.

The native title holders belong to the Inteyere [IN-dia-ra], Twenge [TU-nga], Ipmengkere [IB-ma-nga-ra], Murtikutjara [MU-ti-kut-ja-ra], Aniltika [AN-il-ti-ka] and Nthyareye [‘DA-rie] groups.

Some of the old people still speak Pertame [PUR-dum], an endangered language they are working to revive, while some speak Western Arrernte [A-ran-da] and Matuntara Luritja [MA-toon-da-ra LOU-ri-tja].

Their elders and ancestors were born, lived and worked on Henbury Station since the late 1800s and many are buried there.

They have fought unsuccessfully for more than 40 years for the return of their country.

Following an Australian Government assisted purchase in 2011 the lease transferred to the RM Williams Agricultural Holdings for the purpose of carbon farming.

The CLC helped the traditional owners to negotiate with the company for a staged return of the land and to source funding for a dedicated Aboriginal ranger group to manage the land.

However, when RM Williams was placed in receivership in June 2013 the traditional owners, in collaboration with the Indigenous Land Corporation, submitted expressions of interest to purchase the property.

Their plans were dealt a bitter blow when Henbury was sold to Ashley and Neville Anderson, Ted and Sheri Fogarty and David Rohan, a consortium of established Central Australian pastoral interests.

“The Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) was helping but we didn’t have enough money. We will push it again next time. Working on country is good for Aboriginal people,” said Mr Breaden.

The CLC lodged the native title application in 2016.

Henbury, which will continue to operate as a cattle station, is home to the world’s oldest river, the Finke (Lhere Pirnte, pronounced LA-ra PIN-ta) and meteorite craters (Tatyeye Kepmwere, pronounced TAT-ja KA-pa-ra).

The determination area surrounds several outstations on Aboriginal land that are connected by an old stock route.

The Twenge [TU-nga] Aboriginal Corporation will hold the native title rights and interests for the determination area.

Native title holders are celebrating the recognition of their rights on the western side of Pine Hill Station, north of Alice Springs.

Five Anmatyerr-speaking land holding groups will join Justice John Reeves tomorrow at Arden’s Soak Bore on Pine Hill Station at 11 am for a special sitting of the Federal Court, as he hands down a consent determination over an area of more than 1500 square kilometres.

The determination complements an earlier native title declaration over the east of the pastoral lease.

Many native title holders from the Alherramp [AL-er-ramp], Arempey [ERR-am-pie], Lyelyepwenty [LEEL-a-punge], Ngwenyenp [NGOON-ya-pa] and Tywerl [CHU-la] groups grew up and worked on the station.

“I worked for a long time on Pine Hill. I branded bullocks and broke horses,” said Leslie Stafford Pwerrerl.

Peter Cole Peltharr said old people told them “the right stories”.

“Old Bruce Campbell, he was a cook who told us stories about country and I now pass on those stories to young people,” Mr Cole said.

The native title holders hunt, visit rock holes and practice ceremony on the station, often in the company of the Central Land Council’s Anmatyerr rangers in Ti Tree.

“We feel good when we go to country,” said Amy Campbell Peltharr.

“When the CLC rangers come to help us we go to places we did not go to for a long time.”

“I teach young people about important places and to do ceremony the right way,” Mr Stafford said.

“I sometimes go to Pine Hill and take young girls to show them how to get bush tucker and medicine,” Daisy Campbell Peltharr added.

“I like to camp out at Pine Hill and look for bean tree seeds with my younger sister.”

Francine McCarthy, the CLC’s manager of native title, said the determination recognises these rights under Australian law.

“It also gives the native title holders the right to negotiate about mining and exploration proposals, but not to veto them,” Ms McCarthy said.

She said some of the native title holders want to return to Anyungyunba [AN- oon-ung-un-pa] outstation, across the river from the Pine Hill homestead.

“From tomorrow, native title will be recognised over the whole station,” she said.

“The determination for the eastern side of Pine Hill was made in August 2009 and a small portion was included in the Nolan Bore native title determination in 2017.”

That application was filed in response to plans of the Pine Hill Pastoral Company to grow grapes on the property.

The NT government bought the lease in 2000 to secure horticultural development over the Ti Tree Basin and the lease was then sold back to the pastoralist in 2008.

The CLC filed the Pine Hill (west) application in September 2016.

The applicants’ prescribed body corporate, the Pine Hill West Aboriginal Corporation, will hold the native title rights.

The members and staff of the Central Land Council mourn the passing of Kumanjayi Granites who chaired the CLC from 1994 until 1996.

Kumanjayi is remembered as a senior law man, pastor and education champion.

“Mr Granites knew the value of a well-rounded bilingual and bicultural education,” said Central Land Council director David Ross.

As a young man he trained as a teacher. He completed a Bachelor of Education and later undertook post-graduate studies.

Kumanjayi was an ATSIC councillor and served on the Yuendumu Community Council, including as its president.

Until close to his death last night, he worked as an interpreter, mentor and mediator in his home community of Yuendumu, three hours north-west of Alice Springs.

He was born there in approximately 1950 and raised in the community by parents from the Mount Doreen and Granites areas.

Kumanjayi was widely related to families across Central Australia.

In the CLC’s oral history collection, Every Hill Got a Story, he spoke about his grandfather from the Lake Mackay area and connections on his mother’s side towards Alekarenge and Willowra.

In his time as the CLC chair, Kumanjayi focussed on the repatriation of sacred objects.

“In 1994, he travelled with inaugural CLC chair Wenten Rubuntja to Sydney to collect sacred objects bought overseas by a businessman to bring them back home to their rightful owners,” Mr Ross said.

During a CLC symposium on the return of sacred objects in 1995, an effort to persuade museums around the country to return these objects, he spoke about the urgency of this unfinished business. Around the same time Kumanjayi began to make a name for himself as an artist. His works are held by public and private collections throughout Australia.

Joint media release by the Land Councils and the NT Government Statement

The Northern Territory’s four Land Councils and the Northern Territory Government have today signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding (the “Barunga Agreement”), paving the way for consultations to begin with Aboriginal people about a Treaty. A joint meeting of the four Land Councils at Barunga this week voted to empower their Chairmen to sign the MOU.

This is a momentous day in the history of the Territory, a chance to reset the relationship between the Territory’s First Nations and the Government,” Northern Land Council Chairman Samuel Bush-Blanansi said. “We’ve got big journey ahead of us. The MOU gives us high hopes about the future and I hope the Government stays true to spirit of the MOU.”

Central Land Council Chairman FrancisJupurrurla Kelly said: “I hope a treaty will settle us down together and bring us self-determination. Today we bounced the ball but we don’t want to stay the only players in this game. The next steps must be led by Aboriginal people across the Territory so that everyone can run with the ball and have their say.”

Anindilyakwa Land Council Chairman Tony Wurramarrba said: “We celebrate the highly significant step that has been achieved today and will work with the Northern Territory Government and other Land Councils to continue the important work required to achieve the goal of a Northern Territory Treaty.”

Tiwi Land Council Gibson Farmer Illortaminni said: “We’ve got to be careful and understand each other about what we want, because we don’t want to have the same problems we’ve had in the past. The MoU is a good start, but we’ve got a long way to go. The Government needs to be honest and transparent.”

Chief Minister Michael Gunner, who signed on behalf of the Government, said: “This is the first day of a new course for the Northern Territory. The MoU we have signed today commits us to a new path of lasting reconciliation that will heal the past and allow for a cooperative, unified future for all. “

A Territory where everyone understands our history, our role in a modern society and our united and joint future will be an important achievement for all Territorians.”

The Territory Labor Government promised soon after the election in 2016 to advance a Treaty, and the MoU is the result of intensive discussions and negotiations between the Land Councils and the Government.

Significantly, the MoU was signed on the first day of the Barunga Sport and Cultural Festival – the 30th anniversary of the presentation of the Barunga Statement to Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who went on to promise a Treaty between the Commonwealth and Australia’s Indigenous peoples, but has remained undelivered.

Under the terms of the MOU NT Government will appoint an independent Treaty Commissioner who will lead the consultations with Aboriginal people and organisations across the Territory, and develop a framework for Treaty negotiations. The Commissioner will be an Aboriginal person with strong connections to the Territory, and expressions of interest will be called for the position.

The Land Councils and the Northern Territory Government will make their extensive regional staffing networks available to the Treaty Commission to organise consultations in communities.

The MoU prescribes that all Territorians should ultimately benefit from any Treaty, which must provide for substantive outcomes. It’s founded on the agreement that there has been “deep injustice done to Aboriginal people, including violent dispossession, the regression of their languages and cultures and the forcible removal of children from their families, which have left a legacy of trauma and loss that needs to be addressed and healed”.

“The process will begin with an open slate. We will start with nothing on or off the table,” Mr Gunner said.

The MoU acknowledges that there is a range of Aboriginal interests in the Territory, and that all Aboriginal people must have the opportunity to be fully engaged. It further acknowledges that non-Aboriginal people “need to be brought along in this process.”

The document leaves open the possibility of multiple treaties, and lays out a timetable for the work of the Treaty Commissioner.

Read the agreement

Link to the NT Government website

Native title holders of two pastoral properties in the south of the Northern Territory will celebrate a native title consent determination at a special sitting of the Federal Court this week.

Justice Charlesworth will hand down a non-exclusive native title consent determination over the Andado and New Crown stations, an area of almost 20,000 square kilometres, on Thursday 24 May.

The Southern and Eastern Arrernte native title holders will celebrate the determination 10.30 am with a ceremony in the community of Aputula (Finke).

Artist and native title holder Marlene Doolan, who has lived at Aputula most of her life, will present the Central Land Council with a painting depicting connection to country, dreamings and bush foods.

“I learnt my knowledge from the old ladies who passed it down to me,” Ms Doola

n said.“My job is to teach the younger generations today to keep the culture strong.”

The native title holders belong to four family groups connected to country in the determination area: Andado, Pmere Ulperre [MUR ra OOL pura], New Crown and Therreyererte [THER errta].

Their families lived and worked on the stations from the 1890s until the 1970s and have proved that they have a continuing connection with their country.

Francine McCarthy, the Central Land Council’s manager of native title, said the determi

nation recognises native title rights, such as the rights to hunt and gather on the land and waters and to conduct cultural activities and ceremonies, as well as the right to negotiate agreements about exploration and mining.

“Both stations are subject to minerals authorities held by Tri-Star,” Ms McCarthy said.

Native title holders instructed the CLC to negotiate an agreement with the company, in response to its oil and gas exploration activities in the region, as well as proposed minerals exploration.

The CLC lodged the native title claim in 2013.

In 2016, only days before the Northern Territory election, the mines department announced it would grant the company mineral authorities for the purpose of coal exploration which would lower Tri Star’s exploration costs and improve its security of tenure.

The CLC lost an appeal against the expedited procedure in the National Native Title Tribunal and the current NT government granted the minerals authority in November 2017.

The company can start exploration without an agreement with the native title holders.

“Native title holders are trying to negotiate an agreement with the company but, unlike land rights, native title does not give them the right to veto exploration or mining,” Ms McCarthy said.

If exploration was successful and the company wanted to develop a mine it would have to apply for a mineral lease.

The Andado and New Crown leaseholders will continue to run the properties as cattle stations while the Tyatykwenhe [DUD ja corner] Aboriginal Corporation will hold the native title rights and interests for the determination area.

When native title holders celebrate the native title determination over the Maryvale cattle station south of Alice Springs tomorrow, they will remember their families who lived and worked there for 80 years.

At a special sitting of the Federal Court on Maryvale, Justice Charlesworth will hand down a consent determination over an area of 3,244 square kilometres.

The ceremony will take place on the banks of the Hugh River, 3.6km from the community of Titjikala, south of Alice Springs on 23 May at 11 am.

The native title holders’ from the Imarnte, Titjikala and Idracowra land holding groups speak Southern Arrernte, also known as Pertame [PUR-dum], and many of them live in Titjikala, an community living area excised from the pastoral lease and not included in the claim.

The native title holders will be celebrating the recognition of their right to hunt and gather on the station, to protect their sacred sites and conduct cultural activities and ceremonies.

“This determination will also give them the right to negotiate about exploration and mining activities on their land, for example the salt mine and hazardous waste storage facility in the determination area,” said Francine McCarthy, the Central Land Council’s manager of native title.

The native title holders are currently negotiating an agreement with the operator, Tellus.

The European history of the determination area dates back to the 1890s, when pastoralists established what was then called Mount Burrell station.

“The area includes a site where, in the 1860s, the party of explorer John McDouall Stuart shot at three armed Aboriginal men who allegedly threatened the expedition,” Ms McCarthy said.

“TGH Strehlow and other anthropologists recorded frequent violence between the Mount Burrell pastoralists and the Aboriginal land owners who resented their intrusion and kidnapping of local women.”

The Rodinga Aboriginal Corporation will hold the native title rights and interests for the determination area while Maryvale Station will continue to operate as a cattle station.

See on the Human Rights Law Centre website

Discriminatory remote work scheme improved but onerous work hours and harsh penalties will drive poverty

The need for fair pay for work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has finally been acknowledged by the Federal Government but Budget measures outlined for its remote work for the dole scheme fall well-short of realising this in practice.

The Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT) and the Human Rights Law Centre cautiously welcomed some changes to the Community Development Program (CDP), but expressed deep concern about the Government’s piecemeal approach and its decision to continue with onerous obligations while introducing a harsher penalty system in remote communities.

John Paterson, spokesperson for APO NT, said that for three years Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations have been dealing with the devastation wrought by the Government’s program.

“The hard work of APO NT and other Aboriginal organisations and CDP providers has started to pay-off, with the Minister for Indigenous Affairs recognising that paid work with proper entitlements is the key to lifting families out of poverty, stimulating social enterprise and creating meaningful employment opportunities,” said Mr Paterson.

Mr Paterson welcomed the announcement of 6000 subsidised jobs with proper work entitlements and improvements to the way that people’s work capacity is assessed but said the Government should be adopting the Aboriginal-led model already developed by APO NT.

“We are pleased that there will be subsidies for 6000 jobs and an improved assessment process to ensure vulnerable people are not forced to participate beyond their capabilities.

However, the Government has engaged in a cherry-picking exercise rather than wholeheartedly adopting the positive Aboriginal community-driven model developed by APO NT, which will limit the benefits possible on the ground,” said Mr Paterson.

The Budget measures include a reduction in work requirements from 25 to 20 hours, but people in remote communities, 83 per cent of whom are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, will still have to work around 270 hours more each year than people in urban areas.

Adrianne Walters, senior lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, said that it was mindboggling that after three years, a racist and inflexible work hours requirement will continue to be imposed on remote communities, albeit in slightly modified form.

“Equal pay for equal work is a core tenet of Australian society. The Federal Government must eliminate the blatantly discriminatory requirement which sees people in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities forced to work more hours for the same basic Centrelink payment as people in cities,” said Ms Walters.

Both organisations have also warned that the new compliance measures announced in the Budget will undermine the potential for positive outcomes.

“The inclusion of more onerous compliance measures is likely to drive up poverty and disengagement. The Government’s own data indicates that people subject to the remote CDP scheme are already at least 20 times more likely to be financially penalised,” said Mr Paterson.

“Unfair financial penalties have already seen parents struggling to put food on the table for their kids. The Government appears satisfied to dump a new harsh one-size-fits-all penalty system on remote communities, but still discriminate against them in terms of work hours,” said Ms Walters.

Further information

The Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT has worked with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to develop an alternative model for fair work and strong resilient communities. The model focuses on waged work, fair participation obligations, access to support services and Aboriginal-led institutional arrangements.

Key aspects of the alternative model that are missing from Minister Scullion’s CDPreforms include:

Flexibility and community governance structures so that jobs and community projects meet the needs of communities and remote employers.

An approach to participation obligations that allows local organisations to tailor arrangements to their own communities, with a focus on support and incentives, rather than heavy-handed compliance and financial penalties.

Work activity obligations that are no greater than those that apply to people in the urban Jobactive program.

1500 paid jobs with training for people under 25, giving disengaged young people a reason to re-engage and a pathway to future employment.

An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led agency to manage the scheme instead of the current non-Indigenous led Canberra-based model.

A reduction in pointless and excessive administration requirements, which is a hallmark of the current program and consumes valuable funding.

For interviews or further information please call: Michelle Bennett, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519

A historic meeting between the Northern Territory Government and the Territory’s four land councils has agreed to establish a working group to develop a memorandum of understanding about how a treaty between the government and the NT’s Aboriginal people should progress.

The MoU will cover the principles, consultation process and roadmap leading to a treaty. It will be developed in time for signing at the Barunga Festival on Friday June 8th.

Representatives of the land councils met in Alice Springs with Chief Minister Michael Gunner and Aboriginal MLAs Selena Uibo and Chansey Paech. It was the first ever meeting between a Territory government and all four land councils to begin a treaty process.

Mr Gunner thanked the land councils for their “constructive engagement and advice” and for having taken the lead in proposing the working group. The land councils want traditional owners and communities to be front and centre during the treaty negotiations. Other Aboriginal organisations will be engaged once the MoU has been drafted.

Mr Gunner made a commitment following the NT election in August 2016 to open discussions about a treaty. He then established an Aboriginal Affairs sub-committee of Cabinet, whose priorities included advancing a treaty.

Mr Gunner told the meeting with land councils that he favoured the appointment of an independent commissioner to lead the advancement of a treaty, following the examples of Victoria and South Australia.

This year’s Barunga festival will mark the 30th anniversary of the presentation of the Barunga Statement to Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who promised a treaty with Aboriginal people. The Barunga Statement is now on display in Parliament House, Canberra.

Seven Aboriginal teachers from remote central Australian communities have documented their education journeys in We Always Stay, to be launched tomorrow at the Central Land Council.

The teachers, all women, have all worked in their community schools for more than 30 years and beat significant odds in order to qualify in their profession.

They co-wrote the book with Lisa Hall from the Batchelor Institute to raise awareness of the achievements of Aboriginal teachers, the barriers they face and to encourage aspiring teachers to follow in their footsteps.

“I hope people can hear my story and how people helped me, all the community people… how my family helped me,” said Fiona Gibson who has taught at Nyirrpi, a small community five hours northwest of Alice Springs.

“Then community people can see it for themselves and start thinking ‘we might ask to study’ because our community needs more Yapa [Aboriginal] teachers.”

Linda Anderson, from Papunya, said “I think it is really important to have Anangu [Aboriginal] teachers in our classrooms because they know the culture from the inside”.

Ms Anderson’s career exemplifies how, with the right support, bi-lingual and bi-cultural local teachers can make an enormous contribution to both their communities and their non-Aboriginal colleagues, who rarely stay long out bush.

“Kardiya [non-Aboriginal] teachers are just visitors. We are the ones who will always be here, teaching our kids,” said Barbara Martin from Yuendumu.

Ms Martin and three of her co-authors are members of the CLC’s Warlpiri Education and Training Trust (WETT), a community development program which funded the book from gold mining royalties.

CLC director David Ross, an early champion of the WETT, will launch We Always Stay on Thursday, 22nd March from 4:30 – 6pm at the CLC’s North Stuart highway office in Alice Springs.

We Always Stay is available from www.batchelorpress.com for $35.

This Easter Aboriginal rangers will fan out across millions of hectares between the deserts of Central Australia and the Indian Ocean for the first cross border surveys of the endangered Greater Bilby (Macrotis lagotis)

Twenty ranger groups from the Northern Territory and Western Australia are combining their local knowledge and tracking skills with digital technology to conduct hundreds of base line bilby surveys by recording tracks, scats, diggings and burrows on Aboriginal land during March and April.

The data will update and expand our existing knowledge about the bilby’s distribution and inform the national bilby recovery plan – the first national threatened species plan developed with significant input from Aboriginal land managers.

Tomorrow at 10 am the Central Land Council rangers and other staff will join Australia’s Threatened Species Commissioner Dr. Sally Box at Hamilton Downs near Alice Springs to launch the Bilby Blitz at their annual ranger camp.

“A century ago bilbies roamed across most of Australia,” said ranger co-ordinator Josie Grant from the Central Land Council.

“Feral cats, foxes, cattle, donkeys, rabbits, camels and changed fire regimes have pushed bilbies to the edge of extinction. Today their last refuge is the land we manage and we’re really their last hope.

We’re protecting them through cool season burning and eradicating feral animals and weeds but because we’re all looking after huge areas of country we need a better handle on where our efforts will make the greatest difference.”

Ms Grant is on the indigenous subcommittee of the Commonwealth’s bilby recovery team, the first such indigenous advisory committee at a national level.

The rangers’ main weapon in the Bilby Blitz is the bilingual Tracks app, a mobile threatened species app in English and Warlpiri developed by the CLC as part of a comprehensive data collection, storage and management system linked to the CSIRO’s Atlas of Living Australia.

“Our Warlpiri rangers love the app,” said Ms Grant who grew up in the Tennant Creek region and speaks Warlmanpa and Warrumungu.

“The rest of us use the English version and can’t wait until we can afford to develop it in our first languages as well.”

The app, which can be downloaded from the Google Play store, collects the rangers’ tracking data in a standardised way, allowing the results to be analysed across time and sites and to be compared with future surveys.

This will enable land managers and conservationists to detect local changes in biodiversity, as well as monitor broader impacts of feral species and climate change across Australia’s desert regions.

“The Bilby Blitz is a ground breaking threatened species program for a culturally significant animal, a two-way ecological case study that demonstrates the critical role Aboriginal people play in protecting our country,” said CLC director David Ross.

“Seeing the Commonwealth develop the bilby recovery plan with Aboriginal land managers in the driver’s seat gives us real hope that there’s the political will to also resource and implement this plan,” Mr Ross said.

“However, our rangers will not wait to find out but get on with their vital conservation work regardless.”

The CLC is hosting the Bilby Blitz on behalf of the Indigenous Desert Alliance, with one-off funding from the federal environment department.

Its 12 ranger teams will be joined by rangers from the Kimberley Land Council, Kanyirninpa Jukurpa, Central Desert Native Title Services, the Ngaanyatjarra Council and other land management groups.

Download the fact sheet

Mutitjulu elders are today launching a new Central Land Council ranger group to manage the vast Katiti Petermann Indigenous Protected Area surrounding the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park.

Central Land Council chair Francis Kelly says Mutitjulu’s Tjakura rangers – the CLC’s 12th ranger group – are taking their name from the Pitjantjatjara/Yangkunytjatjara word for the threatened great desert skink.

“They are proud to wear the logo with the tjakura on their uniforms because that’s what our rangers are so good at: looking after endangered plants and animals the proper way, under the guidance of their elders.

They don’t just keep country healthy, they also keep people’s culture and knowledge of country strong,” Mr Kelly says.

The Tjakura rangers’ logo is based on a concept design by senior Mutitjulu artist Malya Teamay, who will unveil it at the launch, following a ceremony at 10.30 at the community’s ranger office.

The new group will share the protection of the five million hectare IPA with the CLC’s Kaltukatjara rangers from the remote border community of Docker River, a rough three hour drive west of Mutitjulu.

“I’m so happy my team of six will finally be joined by seven new colleagues from Muti,” said Kaltukatjara ranger co-ordinator Benji Kenny.

“We really needed these reinforcements because it’s been a daunting job to look after an IPA of more than 50,000 square kilometres, an area larger than Denmark or Switzerland, on our own.

“By comparison, the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park inside the IPA covers only just over 1,300 square kilometres and employs more than a dozen non-Aboriginal rangers, plus another dozen non-ranger staff.”

The IPA is an international hot spot for mammal extinctions, with 18 mammals vanishing from the area since European settlement.

Anangu [pronounced AR-nangu] traditional owners still remember animals such as kantilypa (pig-footed bandicoot), tawalpa (crescent nail-tailed wallaby), lesser bilby, and walilya (desert bandicoot) which died out during the lives of today’s elders.

Feral cats and foxes and changes in traditional fire regimes after Anangu were moved into settlements drive these extinctions.

The Tjakura rangers will help to look after more than 22 surviving native mammal species, 88 reptile species and 147 bird species found on the IPA, including threatened species such as the murtja (brush-tailed mulgara), waru (black-footed rock-wallaby) and the princess parrot.

“We use traditional knowledge and skills such as cat tracking and cool season patch burning and combine them with modern tools such as aerial incendiary machines and digital tracking apps to manage these treats,” Mr Kenny said.

“Having two ranger groups look after the IPA means that we’ll be able to double our efforts and involve more community members on a casual basis, for example to hire more locals to do controlled burns during the upcoming fire season.”

Unique to Australia, IPAs are areas of Aboriginal land traditional owners voluntarily declare and manage as part of Australia’s National Reserve System funded by the federal environment department.

The federal government’s IPA and Working on Country programs provide scarce opportunities for ongoing paid employment for Aboriginal people in remote communities and are highly sought after.

The skills CLC rangers gain through structured accredited training boost their employment prospects in other sectors as well as improve their mental health and wellbeing.

The federal government has delivered on the promise to fund the group, which Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion made in 2015, shortly after Anangu traditional owners declared the country around Uluru Australia’s 70th IPA.

The Central Land Council is backing the residents of Tennant Creek and the Director-General of Licensing on the extension of the emergency alcohol restrictions in the town.

“We support the decision of the Director-General, Cindy Bravos, to keep the current grog restrictions in place and urge that they remain in place until more permanent restrictions have been implemented,” said Central Land Council director David Ross.

“Calls for hard decisions to curb the level of alcohol consumption in Tennant Creek go back decades and it should not take a media storm for government to act.”

Back in February 2009, NT Chief Justice Trevor Riley made sentencing remarks that sound depressingly familiar today:

“The courts regularly hear evidence of alcohol being consumed in Tennant Creek in quantities beyond comprehension. It seems that the excessive consumption of alcohol continues for so long as alcohol is available. People drink until they can drink no more and then get up the next day and start all over again. The frequency with which drunken violence occurs is unacceptable and the level of violence is likewise completely unacceptable.

For the good of the town, for the good of the victims, for the good of the offenders and for the good of the innocent children of Tennant Creek, it seems to me obvious that a system must be devised to limit the amount of alcohol made available to the people whose lives are being devastated in this way and to educate and rehabilitate those already abusing alcohol. The people of the Northern Territory cannot sit on their hands and allow what is occurring in Tennant Creek to continue. I accept that it is a complex issue but it is an issue that must be addressed and must be addressed sooner rather than later. Hard decisions must be taken.”

Mr Ross said he takes concerns about next week’s annual general meeting of the Tennant Region Aboriginal Corporation (TRAC) seriously but they are a diversion from the essential issues facing the town.

“Aboriginal corporations are legally obliged to hold AGMs in a timely manner and we have been working with corporation directors and the federal government to minimise any adverse impacts,” Mr Ross said.

“There is no distribution of cash at these meetings, as has been claimed.”

“The Director-General of Licencing and NT Police have been invited to meet with the TRAC directors following the AGM to discuss the impact of liquor restrictions on the wider community,” he said.

Mr Ross said the small team at the CLC’s Aboriginal Association Management Centre must facilitate almost 100 Aboriginal corporation AGMs a year within a statutory time frame.

“We schedule meetings when they have the smallest possible impact on school attendance,” he said.

“We draw on independent analysis of NT Education Department statistics showing where and when a meeting may have harmful impacts,” he said.

Mr Ross said the CLC has also long supported traditional owners to invest their income in community development programs.

“While the amount of money going towards these community driven projects is steadily increasing governments could offer incentives to encourage more traditional owners to take up this option.”

Good Housing Starts with Community Control
From the Aboriginal delegates at the Northern Territory Aboriginal Housing Forum

Aboriginal delegates at the Northern Territory Aboriginal Housing Forum have welcomed the Chief Minister’s support for the development of an Aboriginal community-controlled peak housing body for the NT.

Around 190 delegates travelled to Darwin for the NT Aboriginal Housing Forum from across the Territory and the nation, including from many remote areas, to discuss the issues of Aboriginal housing in the NT.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner addressed the Forum on Thursday 8 March in what was seen as a positive and productive dialogue.

Co-chair of Aboriginal Housing NT (AHNT) Barbara Shaw said: “The support from the Chief Minister Michael Gunner means we are now one step closer to establishing an Aboriginal community controlled peak housing body, however this will require adequate funding and support.”

Delegates are also seeking clarity from the Australian Government on what will happen to funding from 1 July 2018, when the Commonwealth National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing (NPARIH) is set to cease. The Forum called on the Australian Government to shoulder its responsibility to funding remote Aboriginal housing on a needs basis. The Commonwealth appears to be walking away from commitments made by successive Commonwealth governments over the past 40 years.

“Without resolution, remote and regional Aboriginal communities face significant risk of uncertain housing service provision,” Ms Shaw said.

The Forum recognised the inequity in current policies relating to remote and regional Aboriginal communities, homelands, outstations and town camps, and called for consistency in funding that recognises these different community contexts.

The Northern Territory is unique in its demographics with more than 30% of its population being Aboriginal, 80% of whom live in remote areas. Aboriginal families account for 100% of remote tenancies and 50% of urban tenancies.

“With a young and fast growing population, we urgently need to address the intergenerational housing inequity that successive governments have failed to address,” said Ms Shaw.

“We know that housing is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of our families and communities and to outcomes in education, employment and community sustainability,” said Ms Shaw.

“The shift to a public housing model has seen reduced control and loss of Aboriginal employment and no improvement in achieving the Closing the Gap targets.

“We want to see the NT Government work collaboratively with AHNT and Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory (APO NT) to develop regional and local housing models, with a plan to return control of all housing functions in a staged approach to Aboriginal community-controlled organisations.”

The Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT)[1] today welcomed the release of the Senate inquiry report into the Community Development Program (CDP), which found that ‘CDP cannot and should not continue in its current form’[2].

John Paterson, from APO NT said “the inquiry heard the voices of Indigenous CDP participants, their organisations and other concerned Australians and revealed the deep-seated flaws with this top-down, punitive and discriminatory program. Finally, our concerns have been heard.”

“APO NT has put considerable effort into developing an alternative to the CDP (APO NT alternative to CDP). We are extremely pleased that the committee has recognized this Indigenous-led work and drawn on many key elements of the APO NT proposal. In particular, the inquiry found:

The committee is broadly supportive of an effective program for remote jobseekers that provides the opportunity for job placement and community development.

there should be a move away from the compliance and penalty model towards the provision of a basic income with a wage-like structure to incentivise participation.

a jobseeker program must create and sustain real local jobs.

A new program needs to be developed which moves away from a centralised, top-down administration in which communities are told what to do and move towards a model where the local communities are empowered to make decisions that are best for them[3].

It also explicitly recommends that any reform process give consideration to the APO NT model.”

“It is extremely disappointing that the Minister for Indigenous Affairs has already labelled the report misleading and partisan. On the contrary, it provides valuable evidence and recommendations that should inform the CDP reform process,” said Mr Paterson.

The Government committed to consulting with remote communities in May 2017 and just hours before the release of the senate inquiry report the Minister finally released a Discussion Paper outlining very broad reform models for CDP.

“The consultation process announced by the Minister does not answer our calls for a transparent, independent review process conducted in partnership with Indigenous people. The review process is being conducted by the department that currently administers the program, does not appear to include any external oversight or the creation of a high level reform committee to guide and inform the process, and is being undertaken during the wet season and hot summer months when cultural business occurs in many communities,” said Mr Paterson.

“CDP affects the lives of around 29,000 Indigenous people and has caused immense harm. We will continue to work hard to shape the development of a new program to replace CDP that is non-discriminatory, ensures access to the social security safety net, empowers local communities, creates jobs with proper entitlements, and drives development in remote communities. In the meantime, as recommended by the Senate committee, there must be immediate reform of the compliance and penalty regime of the CDP.”

Media contact:

John Paterson (Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT), APO NT Spokesperson: 0418 904 727

KEY FACTS ABOUT THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT SCHEME

The CDP is the main program of job related assistance for unemployed people in remote areas of Australia. It is the equivalent of jobactive (formerly JSA) and Disability Employment Services in the rest of the country.

The CDP has around 35,000 participants, around 83% of whom are identified as Indigenous.

People with full time work capacity who are 18-49 years old must Work for the Dole, 25 hours per week, 5 days per week, at least 46 weeks per year (1150 hours per year). Under jobactive Work for the Dole only starts after 12 months, and then for 390-650 hours per year.

Despite having a caseload less than a twentieth the size of jobactive, more penalties are applied to CDP participants than to jobactive participants.

In the 21 months from the start of CDP on 1 July 2015 to the end of March 2017, 299,055 financial penalties were applied to CDP participants. Over the same period, 237,333 financial penalties were applied to jobactive participants.

[1] APO NT is an alliance of five peak Aboriginal bodies, the Northern Land Council (NLC), Central Land Council (CLC), North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA), Central Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (CAALAS) and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT).

[2] Finance and Public Administration References Committee 2017, Appropriateness and effectiveness of the objectives, design, implementation and evaluation of the Community Development program (CDP), p.104

[3] Finance and Public Administration References Committee 2017, Appropriateness and effectiveness of the objectives, design, implementation and evaluation of the Community Development program (CDP), p.104-105

Ned Hargraves has a long and unfortunate history of threatening and aggressive confrontation documented over many years and he has been repeatedly banned from Regional Council, CLC & community meetings since at least 2011 due to his violent and disruptive behaviour.

In 2012 the CLC even offered (in writing) to assist him to seek counselling at the Men’s Health service at Congress to deal with his anger management issues but he sadly did not take up the offer.

On 7 December, Mr Hargraves attempted to enter a meeting of traditional owners at the CLC office with a camera person in tow. His country was not being discussed and the traditional owners present requested that he not be let in as they knew, given past behaviour, that he was attempting to disrupt the meeting.

Although he was advised that the meeting did not involve him and asked to leave, Mr Hargraves staged a scene, entered the meeting despite being asked to leave and ultimately only left when police were called.

His obvious attempts to set-up a confrontation for media purposes are shown up by the facts.

Mr Hargraves left the CLC premises with Police after CLC staff called them due to his violent disruption of the meeting.

Police were advised of his actions.

He has posted a heavily edited, self-serving and defamatory video – the CLC completely rejects his assertions and calls on him to make an immediate apology to the traditional owners at Yuendumu whose meeting he attempted to disrupt and the staff and contractors engaged by the CLC.

Francis Jupurrurla Kelly

In the name of the Chairman

Community development champions from remote Central Australian communities are showing Australia’s international aid sector how they are investing their own money to drive their own priorities.

Graham Beasley, Peter Corbett, Derek Walker and Sabrina Kelly from Alekarenge will tell the annual learning forum of the Australian Council for International Development on Wednesday, 22 November, how they invest their community lease income to address youth issues in their community.

They will follow Fiona Gibson, Sharon Anderson, Hamilton Morris, and Helen Morton from the Warlpiri Education and Training Trust who will share the story of WETT’s first 10 years and what they are planning for the next decade.

All presenters are members of Aboriginal groups driving their own development with their own income and the support of the Central Land Council’s community development program.

Part of ACFID’s ‘community of practice’ for Aboriginal programs, the CLC has helped to organise the sold-out forum from 21-23 November at the Mercure in Alice Springs.

Dr Danielle Campbell, who managed the CLC’s community development team and now heads up the NLC’s new equivalent program, will share the stage with keynote speaker Senator Patrick Dodson and others on Wednesday morning for a panel discussion themed “What is Community Development”?

The Central Land Council welcomes the long overdue decision by the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park board of management to close the climb to the summit of Uluru for good.

“The CLC congratulates the board on righting a historic wrong,” said CLC director David Ross.

“This decision has been a very long time coming and our thoughts are with the elders who have longed for this day but are no longer with us to celebrate it.”

After agonising about people climbing the sacred site since the 1930s, its Anangu traditional owners recently reaffirmed their long-standing desire to close the climb during consultations by the CLC.

“Some people, in tourism and government for example, might have been saying we need to keep it open but it’s not their law that lies in this land,” said CLC executive member Sammy Wilson, who also chairs the jointly managed park’s board and runs a small tourism business.

“It is an extremely important place, not a playground or theme park like Disneyland. We want you to come, hear us and learn. We’ve been thinking about this for a very long time,” Mr Wilson said.

Mr Wilson takes visitors to his family’s homeland near the park to watch the sunset and they often ask him why Anangu don’t close the climb.

“Why this decision wasn’t made decades ago is a fair question,” Mr Ross said.

“Anangu have genuinely struggled to accommodate many powerful competing interests and have faced massive pressure.”

Mr Wilson said the traditional owners have been in a difficult position and are glad their wishes have prevailed at last.

“Over the years Anangu have felt a sense of intimidation, as if someone is holding a gun to our heads to keep it open. Please don’t hold us to ransom. This decision is for both Anangu and non-Anangu to feel proud about,” he said.

Mr Ross said while Anangu board members agreed to delay the date of the climb’s actual closure for another two years the balance of power is slowly shifting.

“Today’s decision to close the climb was unthinkable only 10 years ago.”

Mr Ross said if fledgling Anangu tourism plans, especially in the vast Indigenous Protected Area surrounding the national park, receive the assistance they need to get off the ground nobody will miss the climb.

“There is so much else besides that in the culture here,” said Mr Wilson “If we have the right support to take tourists outside [the park] it will benefit everyone.

We have a lot to offer in this country. So instead of tourists feeling disappointed … they can experience the homelands with Anangu and really enjoy the fact that they learnt so much more about culture.”

Read Sammy Wilson’s full speech here

The Australian Government must step out from behind closed doors and involve Indigenous people in a transparent process for reforming the discriminatory remote ‘work for the dole’ scheme, the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT) urged today.

The Government committed to reviewing the program, called the ‘Community Development Program’ (CDP) and consulting with remote communities in May 2017.

John Paterson, from APO NT said “We have been calling on the Minister for Indigenous Affairs to clarify and formalise the Community Development Program reform process since last December. Every request is met with silence,” said Mr Paterson.

“The Prime Minister and Minister for Indigenous Affairs never tire of talking about how they want to do things with us, not to us. That they want new ways of working with Aboriginal people. Yet here is a program that affects the lives of 29,000 Indigenous people and has caused immense harm, and we still can’t get confirmation of a process that includes us,” said Mr Paterson.

Australia’s election to the world’s leading human rights body, the UN Human Rights Council, this week relied on a pledge to support the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ‘in both word and deed’. The Declaration requires the Government to work in partnership with Aboriginal people and respect the right to self-determination.

“The Australian Government said to the world that it would tackle Indigenous disadvantage in partnership with our people. Meanwhile the Government’s racially discriminatory program results in Aboriginal people receiving more penalties than other Australians, and hurts our communities,” said Mr Paterson.

“If the Government is serious about the promises it made to get elected to the Council, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs will immediately announce an independent and transparent reform process involving a partnership with Aboriginal people,” added Mr Paterson.

APO NT launched a positive alternative to CDP in Canberra last month (APO NT alternative to CDP).

Our model would create 10,500 part time jobs to be filled by people in remote communities who currently get less than the minimum wage to do work they should be employed and paid properly to do.

Our model would create new jobs and enterprises, strengthen communities and get rid of pointless administration. It has incentives to encourage people into work, training and other activities, rather than punishing people who are already struggling.

David Ross from APO NT, said, “Thirty-three organisations from around Australia have endorsed our new model. We have done the work, we want to talk, and we want a program that will actually deliver positive outcomes on the ground.”

“The Australian Government appears to be unable to put the rhetoric of collaboration into practice. What do all these commitments mean if they don’t deliver a seat at the table on this fundamental issue? Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past and impose a top-down program from Canberra that is guaranteed to fail in remote Australia,” Mr Ross concluded.

Contact:

John Paterson (Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT), APO NT Spokesperson: 0418 904 727
David Ross (Central Land Council), APO NT Spokesperson: 0417 877 579

KEY FACTS ABOUT THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT SCHEME

The CDP is the main program of job related assistance for unemployed people in remote areas of Australia. It is the equivalent of jobactive (formerly JSA) and Disability Employment Services in the rest of the country.

The CDP has around 35,000 participants, around 83% of whom are identified as Indigenous.

People with full time work capacity who are 18-49 years old must Work for the Dole, 25 hours per week, 5 days per week, at least 46 weeks per year (1150 hours per year). Under jobactive Work for the Dole only starts after 12 months, and then for 390-650 hours per year.

Despite having a caseload less than a 20th the size of jobactive, more penalties are applied to CDP participants than to jobactive participants.

In the 21 months from the start of CDP on 1 July 2015 to the end of March 2017, 299,055 financial penalties were applied to CDP participants. Over the same period, 237,333 financial penalties were applied to job active participants.

Traditional owners of Anthwerrke (Emily Gap) have invested their rent income from the Yeperenye/Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature Park in an interactive visitor experience at the sacred site near Alice Springs.

They will launch the interactive tour with CLC chair Francis Kelly, the Member for Namatjira Chansey Paech and guests at Anthwerrke on 26 September at 10:30am.

Anthwerrke [UN-door-kwa] is the home of a significant dreaming, the place where the three caterpillar songlines Yeperenye [Yep-ah-RIN-ya], Ntyarlke [N-CHAYL-ka] and Utnerrengatye [OOT-ner-ung-utch] intersect.

The Anthwerrke interactive tour app features the traditional owners welcoming all to country and talking about the significance of the site.

“Without a knowledgeable guide by your side you may be able to appreciate the beauty of Anthwerrke but you would miss out on its stories and leave this special place none the wiser,” said Mr Paech.

“This interactive tour is like having a friend walk through the site with you and explain the hidden meaning of its natural features, its plants, animals and cultural history.

No interpretive sign can pass on this knowledge the way the traditional owners can.”

“It’s a special place for Arrernte people from this area”, said Lynette Ellis, a traditional owner and working group member.

“You’ve got a lot of tourists going to the West Macs but not that many come east.

Those that do come to Emily Gap don’t have much information. Now they’ve got us telling them the stories about this place.”

The app-based experience, a project driven by the traditional owners and supported by the CLC, was four years in the making and cost some $34,000 to develop and maintain.

It is worth every cent, according to Ms Ellis.

“With more people coming to Emily Gap, later there might be more opportunities for cultural experiences with the traditional owners, or they could work on the park as rangers or tour guides,” she said.

The working group’s next project is a walking and bicycle track between Emily and Jessie Gaps.

“Our NT parks rent money community development program is one of the most positive outcomes from the joint management of the 16 parks and reserves in our region,” said CLC director David Ross.

“In 2010 CLC members decided to use 100 per cent of this income stream for community development and last financial year traditional owners invested more than a million dollars of their park rent income in projects they drive.”

Visitors can download the app free of charge from http://sitesandtrails.com.au/ or the app store by searching for Sites and Trails NT. Once downloaded they can search for the Anthwerrke Interactive Experience or navigate there via the Locations list.

Central Land Council delegates have endorsed the historic Uluru Statement and demanded an active role in designing the ‘voice to parliament’ ahead of a referendum on constitutional reform.

Meeting at Brumby Plains, a remote outstation four hours north-west of Kalkaringi, more than 70 elected CLC delegates discussed the double-edged sword that is the ‘races power’ of the Australian constitution.

It has delivered them land rights but also the failed Intervention.

The delegates released the Brumby Plains Statement, saying they need to be part of designing an Aboriginal body advising the Australian Parliament in order to ensure it represents remote community residents and acts as a powerful voice against racially discriminatory laws:

“We, the members of the Central Land Council are sovereign people drawing our strength and laws from country. We sing for country, we dance for country and our laws and systems of governance are still strong.

The Australian constitution must recognise us as First Nations of Australia. Nothing will be lost, instead Australia will gain 65,000 years of culture and history.

We endorse the Uluru Statement, which calls for constitutional protection for a voice to Parliament, supports treaty making and truth telling.

We have long called for Aboriginal self-determination and Aboriginal self-government, and greater control over our own communities. Local treaty negotiations should be protected by a national treaty framework.

In the NT we have benefited from the Commonwealth ‘races power’ through the enactment of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act.

We have also experienced the worst of the ‘races power’ with the imposition of the racist NT Intervention. The Australian Parliament should not pass racially discriminatory laws that harm our people.

We want to be part of designing the voice to parliament to ensure it represents people from the bush, and to ensure it is powerful.

This work should be progressed before we go ahead with a referendum.

A successful referendum requires the support of non-Indigenous people, and we invite all Australians to join us on this journey to achieve constitutional reform.”

John Patterson AMSANT Chair, Ged Kearney President ACTU, David Ross, Josie Douglas, Maria Harvey, Jackie McSkimming and Sophia Tipuamantumirri from Tiwi Islands attending rally before CDP Inquiry.

Who: John Paterson, CEO, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (APO NT), David Ross, Director, Central Land Council (APO NT), Rod Little, Co-Chair, National Congress, David Thompson, CEO, Jobs Australia, Ged Kearney, President, Australian Council of Trade Unions, Maria Harvey, CEO, Tiwi Islands Training & Employment Board, Dickie Bedford, CEO

The Australian Government should replace its racially discriminatory remote ‘work for the dole’ program with an Aboriginal-led model for fair work and strong communities.

In a report to be launched in Canberra, the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT) will call for the Government to afford people in remote communities with respect, opportunity and the same workplace rights that other Australians take for granted.

John Paterson from APO NT, said, “For too long the Australian Government has not listened. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities want to take up the reins and drive job creation and community development initiatives. It’s time for the Government to work with us.”

“The current Community Development Program keeps people in the welfare system and excessive penalties are devastating remote communities. Remote communities need a program that sees people employed on decent pay and conditions, to work on projects the community needs,” said Mr Paterson.

The report calls for a new model – the Remote Development and Employment Scheme. The Scheme would create 10,500 part time jobs to be filled by people who are currently receiving below minimum wage social security payments to do work they should be employed to do.

David Ross from APO NT, said, “The new model will see new opportunities for jobs, enterprise and community development and get rid of pointless administration. Critically, the Scheme provides incentives to encourage people into work, training and other activities, rather than punishing people already struggling to comply.”

The Remote Development and Employment Scheme would support young people with paid traineeships. Remote Job Centres would guide people into meaningful jobs, and work with communities to build opportunities for enterprise and long term jobs. People who still require the support of the social security system would have obligations no more onerous than those that apply to people in non-remote areas.

APO NT’s new model has been supported by over 30 organisations, including remote community Aboriginal-controlled service providers.

Further quotes about the report:

Dickie Bedford, CEO, Marra Worra Worra: “Under the CDP communities have lost control, and people feel that it is just the Government telling them what to do. The APO NT model would allow us to employ our own people, with rules that are set to meet our conditions and the aspirations of our communities.”

Maria Harvey, CEO, Tiwi Islands Training and Education Board: “Under CDP, instead of working to get people skilled up to get better jobs, we spend our time on administration so that people can be penalised by Centrelink. A lot of work for the dole projects in remote constitute duties that other people are paid wages for in any other part of the country. The APO NT Model will give a platform for this real job creation to occur. Under the APO NT model our focus would go back to working with the community and individuals to get more people into employment.”

Rod Little, Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples: “Congress is encouraged that this model has been developed by people and organisations working on the ground with job seekers.

It aims to ensure success with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people clearly directing the program based on evidence and learning, and focused on achieving long-term results.

We urge the Government to support this program to enhance skills and community capacity building, and eliminate harm caused by unemployment and poverty.”

Ged Kearney, President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions: “The CDP is a racially discriminatory program which is having a devastating impact on jobs in remote communities. Workers in remote communities need jobs which are paid a wage, not unpaid positions in a punitive program which overwhelmingly applies to Indigenous Australians.

The ACTU, through the FNWA, stands with workers in remote communities for the duration of this campaign. We want to see this program scrapped, we want to change the rules for workers in remote communities. We cannot tolerate one rule for people in the cities and another for First Nations workers.”

David Thompson AM, CEO of Jobs Australia: “The Community Development Programme is causing unnecessary financial hardship, exacerbating poverty and doing more harm than good in remote Australia. It has not made significant inroads in providing long-term solutions to joblessness. Indigenous people in CDP are much more likely to get a financial penalty than get a job.”

Adrianne Walters, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre: “The Government’s Community Development Program requires people in remote communities to work up to 500 or 760 hours more over a year than people in non-remote areas without any extra payment. It is a program applied overwhelmingly against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This is a racially discriminatory government program that is displacing waged work and must be abandoned.”

Cassandra Goldie, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service: “The Government must work with Aboriginal people and repair the safety net for remote communities. We have heard story after story of people being penalised, unable to access Centrelink, and ending up without any income support. It is the Government is failing in its duty to ensure that basic social protections are available to those who need them.”

The launch coincides with Senate hearings about the Government’s current Community Development Program, work for the dole program.

A summary of APO NT’s Report can be found here.

Media contact:

John Paterson, APO NT: 0418 486 310
David Ross, APO NT: 0417 899 950
Rod Little, National Congress: 0419 146 871
David Thompson, Jobs Australia: 0419 527 753
Cassandra Goldie: 0419 626 155
Ged Kearney, ACTU: 0400 764 200
Maria Harvey, TITEB: 0439 373 383
Dickie Bedford, Marra Worra Worra: 0458 019 672
Michelle Bennett, HRLC: 0419 100 519

Phillip Creek native title determination to trigger memories

A native title determination over Phillip Creek Station in the Northern Territory will trigger memories for many Warumungu and Warlmanpa language speakers this week.

On Thursday, 3 August, Justice Mortimer will hand down a consent determination over an area of approximately 3,800 square kilometres during a special sitting of the Federal Court on the cattle station 55 kilometres north of Tennant Creek.

“Some of us worked or grew up on Phillip Creek Station, or our families told stories of what life was like working and living on the station in the early days,” said Norman Frank, one of the native title holders.

“As a young man, my father worked there, doing station work and looking after country,” Mr Frank said.

The nine landholding groups with traditional attachment to the claim area are the Kankawarla [GAN-ga-war-la], Jajjinyarra [DJA-djin-ar-ra], Patta [BA-ta], Pirrtangu [BIR-tang-oo], Purrurtu [BUR-rur-doo], Wapurru [WA-bur-roo], Yurtuminyi [JOOR-tu-mi-nee], Kanturrpa [GAN-tur-pa] and Linga [LIN-ga] groups.

The native title holders will travel from across the Territory to start the ceremony at 10.30am at Purrumpuru [BOOM-bu-roo] Waterhole, one of a number of significant waterholes in the claim area.

One of them is the manager of the Central Land Council’s native title unit, Francine McCarthy.

“The determination recognises our rights to hunt and gather on the land and waters and to conduct cultural activities and ceremonies,” said Ms McCarthy.

“It will also give us the right to negotiate about exploration, mining and tourism activities on our land while the lessee will continue to operate the lease as a cattle station,” she said.

A good relationship with the pastoral lessee has enabled the native title holders to continue to visit their country and look after it.

Between 1995 and 1998, the CLC negotiated approval for three community living areas on the station for native title holders and their families.

These excisions are not part of the native title determination area.

When Phillip Creek Station was placed on the market, in the early 2000s, the native title holders were not successful in purchasing it.

The traditional owners of the iconic Watarrka (Kings Canyon) National Park are overjoyed that their country is now officially off limits for mining and fracking.

As they found out at a meeting with the Central Land Council in the jointly managed park today, the NT government has declared a mineral and petroleum reserve over the entire park.

The declaration under the Petroleum Act reserves the park from the grant of an exploration permit or license.

“The reserves will provide significant levels of protection to the park that will exclude any future mineral or energy exploration and extraction,” the Department of Mines and Energy wrote to the Environmental Defenders Office in a letter dated 30 May.

The EDO had helped the traditional owners to take their campaign against mining in the park to Canberra in November 2015, where they applied for emergency protection under federal heritage laws after previous Territory governments ignored their appeals for years.

CLC Director David Ross congratulated the custodians on their victory.

“It just goes to show what can be achieved with a persistent, patient and united campaign,” Mr Ross said.

“The CLC told the Martin government 15 years ago that traditional owners were opposed to mining on their land.

It’s great to see that the Gunner government is fair dinkum about correcting the mistakes of the past.”

In 2012 traditional owners of the Watarrka Park Land Trust were notified of a proposed grant of two Exploration Permit Applications over the entire park.

They unanimously opposed the grant of those applications and sought to protect the park from any future mining or oil and gas activities, whether exploration or production.

The CLC and the EDO opposed the applications and campaigned for secure ongoing protection of Watarrka.

While this pressure swayed the Giles government to refuse the grant of the EPAs it ignored the custodians’ requests for ongoing protection.

The park continues to be subject to an application for protection under the federal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act and is being assessed for National Heritage Listing.

Traditional owners of Karlu Karlu (the Devils Marbles) in the Northern Territory are calling for the prosecution of those responsible for the recent desecration of their sacred site and for visitors to respect their longstanding wish not to drink alcohol anywhere at the site.

The Central Land Council has asked the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority to take legal action under the NT Sacred Sites Act against the individuals who defecated on the site and circulated a video of the desecration that was published by numerous news web sites and papers around the country.

The traditional owners told CLC chair Francis Kelly during a site visit that they feel deeply distressed and upset about the incident and believe it has demeaned their culture.

“They are feeling very hurt and angry,” said Mr Kelly.

“One elder said: ‘When I see that video it is not only him shitting on our site but shitting on our culture. We see that and we think that he sees our culture as shit. In the old days he would have been speared in the leg’.”

The incident has opened old wounds for some of the traditional owners.

“Why do they hate us?” asked Sonny Curtis.

“Everybody knows we are strongly saying we would like to share our country. It’s here for everyone, all of us to enjoy. But somehow they want it all, don’t want us to have any say at all.”

Mr Curtis reiterated the traditional owners’ well-documented desire for an alcohol ban at Karlu Karlu because they believe that drinking promotes disrespectful and unsafe behaviour.

“There shouldn’t be any grog. The best thing would be for people not to have grog at all when they are at a sacred site. Just enjoy the scenery, not drink grog because we all know grog brings lots of trouble.”

Traditional owners have requested signage at Karlu Karlu that informs visitors of their wish.

They also called on the company that brought the perpetrators of the desecration to the Tennant Creek region to apologise to them both publicly and privately.

They plan to raise the matter directly with AAPA at the CLC meeting in Tennant Creek this week.

The maximum penalty for individuals who desecrate a sacred site is $61,600 or two years jail.

Yangkunytjatjara and Matutjara language speakers will tomorrow celebrate the first native title determination in the south of the Northern Territory.

At a special sitting of the Federal Court, Justice Reeves will hand down a consent determination over an area of approximately 12,500 square kilometres at the border with South Australia.

The area, which includes some of the region’s most spectacular landscapes, comprises the pastoral leases of Victory Downs, Mt Cavenagh, Mulga Park and Umbeara.

They will continue to operate as cattle stations.

The native title holders are associated with significant places such as Ananta (Umbeara), Kalka (Old Kulgera Station, now part of Umbeara), Watju (Mt Cavenagh), Wapirrka (Victory Downs) and Warnkula (Mulga Park).

They are travelling from South Australia, Western Australia and the Territory to the ceremony at Victory Downs, which starts at 10:30 AM on Thursday, 4 May.

Central Land Council chair Francis Kelly is joining them for the celebrations.

“I am very happy for the families and look forward to congratulating them all,” Mr Kelly said.

He said the determinations recognise the rights to hunt and gather on the land and waters and to conduct cultural activities and ceremonies.

“It will also give the native title holders the right to negotiate about exploration, mining and tourism activities on their land,” he said.

The claim area was the first native title application the CLC lodged in the south of its region and is the second-largest area in its region to have native tile recognised.

2017 is shaping up to be a big year in native title for the CLC, with three consent determinations handed down in April and another two expected before the end of the year.

Native title holders of two pastoral properties and an area including a mineral lease north of Alice Springs will celebrate native title consent determinations at special sittings of the Federal Court.

Justice Griffiths will hand down two non-exclusive native title consent determinations on Aileron Station on 5 April and one at the Harts Range Racecourse on 6 April.

At the sitting at Harts Range Racecourse he will hand down a determination of native title over the whole of Mt Riddock Station, an area of approximately 2,700 square kilometres.

The determinations of native title over the Aileron Perpetual Pastoral Lease (PPL) and the area including the mineral lease known as Nolan Bore will be held at Pretty Camp Dam on Aileron Station.

They relate to an area of approximately 4,210 square kilometres.

Central Land Council chair Francis Kelly said the determinations recognise native title rights, such as the rights to hunt and gather on the land and waters and to conduct cultural activities and ceremonies.

“It will also give the native title holders the right to negotiate about exploration and mining activities,” Mr Kelly said.

The native title determinations will also recognise their rights to negotiate about exploration and mining activities on their land.

These rights will co-exist with those of the Mt Riddock and Aileron lease holders, who will continue to run the properties as cattle stations.

The Aileron native title holders are of the Alhankerr [al-HUNG-kera], Atwel/Alkwepetye [a-TOOL-a/al-KOOP-pitch], Ilkewarn [ill-ka-WART-na], Kwaty [quot-JA], Mpweringke [m-PURR-ring-ka], Ntyerlkem/Urapentye [n-JERL-kema/yuara-pen-JA] and Tywerl [JEW-la] land holding groups

Nolan Bore native title holders belong to the Kwaty [quot-JA] and Tywerl [JEW-la] land holding groups, while the Mt Riddock native title holders belong to the Atwele [a-TOOL-a], IIrrelerre [ira-LEER-ra], Ulpmerre [UPL-mer-ra] and Wartharre [WARA-tara] land holding groups.

The Irretyepwenty Ywentent Pwert [air-rich-a-PUNJ yun-TINT a-PUTA] Aboriginal Corporation will hold the native title rights and interests for Aileron PPL while the Kwaty [quot-JA] Aboriginal Corporation holding will hold the native title rights and interests for Nolan Bore.

The Tywele [JEW-la] Aboriginal Corporation will hold the native title rights and interests for Mt Riddock PPL.

A meeting of around 100 Central Australian Aboriginal delegates at Ross River, east of Alice Springs, yesterday elected 10 representatives to argue for substantive constitutional change on a national stage.

The three-day meeting chose Richard James, Barbara Shaw, Geoffrey Shannon, Owen Torres, Valda Shannon, Pat Brahim, Jody Kopp, Rachel Perkins, Natasha Abbott and Damien Williams to represent the region’s priorities for meaningful constitutional reform at the national convention at Uluru on 24-26 May.

The meeting supported a statement of acknowledgement in the constitution, dealing with the race power in a way that prevents discriminatory law making, a representative voice to parliament, prohibition of racial discrimination and treaty.

“I was so pleased to see everyone grab this opportunity with both hands and get involved,” said Central and Council director David Ross.

“It was one of those great moments where everything fell into place and everyone, young and old, participated. The interpreters at the meeting did a great job of translating complex legal ideas.”

Mr Ross said the meeting was respectful with everyone having an opportunity to voice his or her opinions.

“Having male and female co-chairs and local facilitators helped to make everyone comfortable,” he said.

Barbara Shaw, the general manager of Anyinginyi Health in Tennant Creek, chaired the meeting with Mr Ross.

She said the meeting elected mostly young and middle aged people to seek consensus at Uluru on a referendum question to put to all Australian voters.

“I was quite overjoyed that we had a number of young people who had the confidence to stand up and make comment. They want to learn more. They were really engaged and really excited to be part of this journey,” Ms Shaw said.

“One of the things that were quite moving was that we had a lot of people who were starting to get the fire back in the belly,” she said.

“They were saying ‘this is the first time we were able to get together from all around the country to talk about an issue that is important to all of us’.”

The 10 delegates plan to meet in the coming weeks in order to prepare for the Uluru convention.

The Referendum Council last year asked the CLC to help organise both the Ross River and the Uluru gatherings, following the CLC’s request in 2015 to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott for an Aboriginal-only meeting in its region.

One of 12 so-called First Nations Regional Dialogues across the country, the Ross River meeting was a chance for Central Australians to debate their preferences for constitutional reform

CLC delegates last November helped to draw up a list of 100 invitees, including traditional owners, Aboriginal organisations and individual women and men.

The CLC’s Dr Josie Douglas and Francine McCarthy facilitated workshops along with Peter Renehan, Mischa Cartwright and Graham Dowling.

The Northern Territory’s Aboriginal Peak Organisations (APO NT) welcome the referral of a broad ranging inquiry into the controversial Community Development Program (CDP), to the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee.

”This inquiry is welcome and absolutely necessary because Aboriginal people in the bush are bearing the brunt of a punitive program that is failing to achieve outcomes,” said APO NT spokesperson David Ross, the Director of the Central Land Council.

“Our remote communities are feeling the combined impact of the program’s onerous work-for-the-dole requirements and the loss of local authority very painfully.”

Independent analysis of government data shows that penalties applied to CDP participants have more than quadrupled since the government introduced the program, and continue to rise.

Despite having only one twentieth of the caseload of the mainstream jobactive system, the CDP now accounts for more penalties than jobactive and punishes some of Australia’s poorest people.

“These penalties mean that a growing number of families can’t put food on the table and pay rent and electricity, and the pressure on those with stable incomes is mounting daily,” Mr Ross said.

He said the social security system fails to protect the most vulnerable because it does not appropriately assess them and does not allow job service providers to use their discretion when dealing with absences, and because participants out bush are finding it even tougher than mainstream job seekers to access the services of the Department of Human Services.

“Improving economic and social opportunity in remote communities is challenging,” he said.

“However the CDP does great harm to our communities while generating little opportunity.”

Mr Ross said the inquiry provides an opportunity to examine the appropriateness and effectiveness of the objectives, design, implementation and evaluation of the CDP in detail, and help generate ideas for reform.

APO NT has written to Minister Scullion seeking a collaborative process for review and improvement of the program.

“We are ready to engage in constructive dialogue with the Minister,” Mr Ross said.

“It is imperative that decisions about ongoing reform and delivery of the program are made in collaboration with Aboriginal communities.

”Ultimately, we are all looking for the same outcomes: increased work participation, new employment opportunities and local control over service design and delivery.”

APO NT wants remote employment service to
establish a program framework giving communities greater control over the design and implementation of employment services in their own location;

provide positive rewards for engagement, rather than punishment; and

focus attention and resources on long-term economic and social development goals.

“Getting the policy settings right is complex and we want to work with the government to achieve positive reform,” Mr Ross said.

“We are particularly pleased that the inquiry does not have to report until September because it is critical that the committee is able to travel to remote communities to hear directly from CDP participants about their experiences.”

The Mutitjulu community near Uluru today signs off on an innovative township lease that will put traditional owners and residents firmly in control of their future.

“This is a profoundly important settlement between residents and traditional owners – a negotiation about future roles and responsibilities for land use in a community that we hope will be widely emulated,” said Central Land Council director David Ross.

“We have worked with Mutitjulu since 2010 to devise this community-driven leasing model because ceding control over the community to a Commonwealth officer was never going to fly with our constituents,” Mr Ross said.

“Our model keeps decision making in local Aboriginal hands, but also acknowledges the need to build community capacity and strong governance.

It allows for innovation and change in decision making processes under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act.”

Today’s 4pm signing ceremony in the centre of the remote community in the jointly managed Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park follows the ratification of the sublease by the park’s Board of Management.

Last December, traditional owners and the CLC agreed to grant a sublease until 2084, when the head lease of Parks Australia expires.

Initially held by the Commonwealth’s Executive Director Township Leasing (EDTL), the sublease must eventually transfer to a yet-to-be-established community corporation.

This will happen when the CLC is satisfied that the new corporation has the capacity to manage the sublease.

If the corporation runs into trouble, it can be transferred back to the EDTL.

“From today, the EDTL must consult with a committee of residents and traditional owners before making any land use decisions in Mutitjulu,” Mr Ross said.

For the first time, organisations such as the clinic, the school, the store, or a community housing provider will be given legal permission to occupy premises in Mutitjulu and start to pay rent.

“These rent payments will fund community-driven projects similar to the Mutitjulu pool and the many other successful projects pioneered by our community development program,” he said.

There will be no rent payments to individuals and Parks Australia will not charge rent for the sublease.

Mr Ross said when the CLC first proposed its community leasing model, in 2010, the Commonwealth resoundingly rejected it.

“We persevered because traditional owners consistently opposed the Commonwealth’s township leasing model, and we are very pleased Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has accepted our model at long last,” he said.

“We also welcome the additional benefits the Commonwealth has agreed to make available upon signing of the sublease, such as the $10 million investment in community housing, modest accommodation for visiting traditional owners, and $2 million for a community business centre.”

The Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation (MCAC) requested a sublease six years ago because it wanted to create the certainty the community needs in order to develop with confidence.

Mutitjulu’s location inside a national park leased by the traditional owners to the Commonwealth made the negotiations particularly complex and time consuming.

The Central Land Council has given the green light for an innovative township lease that puts traditional owners and residents of the Mutitjulu community next to Uluru firmly in control of their future.

Traditional owners consented to the sublease last month and the CLC’s 11-member Executive yesterday formally agreed to the grant of a sublease until 2084 over the community in the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park.

Initially the sublease will be held by the Australian Government’s Executive Director of Township Leasing (EDTL) who must consult with a committee of residents and traditional owners before making any land use decisions in Mutitjulu.

Once traditional owners and residents have built their capacity and established a new corporation the sublease will be transferred.

The EDTL must transfer the sublease to a new community corporation when the CLC is satisfied that the corporation has the capacity to manage the sublease.

This can happen at any time, and the sublease can be transferred back to the EDTL if the corporation runs into trouble.

For the first time, organisations such as the clinic, the school, the store, or a community housing provider will be given legal permission to occupy premises in Mutitjulu and start to pay rent.

These rent payments will fund community driven projects similar to the Mutitjulu pool and many other projects pioneered by the CLC’s successful community development program.

Rent payments will not be distributed to individuals and Parks Australia will not charge rent for the sublease.

“The CLC has worked with Mutitjulu since 2010 to devise this alternative community leasing model because the Australian Government’s model that involved ceding control over the community to the EDTL was never going to fly with our constituents,” CLC director David Ross said.

“Our community driven model keeps decision making in Aboriginal hands and at the local level, but also acknowledges the need to build community capacity and strong governance.

The model allows for innovation and change in decision making processes under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act.

It’s been a profoundly important settlement between residents and traditional owners – a negotiation about future roles and responsibilities for land use in a community. And while Mutitjulu’s situation is unique we hope our model will be widely emulated.”

Mr Ross said when the CLC first proposed a community leasing model, in 2010, the Commonwealth resoundingly rejected it.

“Traditional owners consistently opposed the Commonwealth’s township leasing model, so we persevered. We are very pleased Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has accepted our model,” he said.

“We also welcome the additional benefits the Commonwealth has agreed to make available upon signing of the sublease, such as the $10 million investment in community housing, modest accommodation for visiting traditional owners, and $2 million for a community business centre.

Mutitjulu has been missing out on investment and we hope this is the start of strong new future.

I congratulate the traditional owners and residents for their commitment to working through these complex issues and reaching an agreement on how to move forward.”

The CLC expects the sublease to be signed in 2017, once final arrangements are settled and it has been ratified by the jointly managed national park’s Board of Management.

Within two years of signing, the EDTL and the community consultative committee must agree on a master plan guiding the future development of Mutitjulu.

The CLC, which will remain closely involved in the process, has worked on this proposal for six years, following the request by the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation (MCAC) of a sublease.

MCAC made the request in order to bring some certainty to the land tenure so the community could develop with confidence.

The complex and time consuming negotiations affected a lot of parties due to Mutitjulu’s location inside the national park which the traditional owners had leased to the Commonwealth for 99 years when it was handed back to them in 1985.

The success of the Karlantijpa North Kurrawarra Nyura Mala Aboriginal Corporation at the fourth Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) auction will create seasonal jobs and help to mitigate climate change.

The new corporation of traditional owners of the Karlantijpa North Aboriginal Land Trust, near Elliott in the Northern Territory, has won a contract with the Commonwealth’s clean energy regulator to earn carbon credits in exchange for strategic burning of savannah country.

The Central Land Council is helping the custodians to develop their carbon business, the first such Aboriginal enterprise in its region, and to carry out financially sustainable fire management that meets safety, cultural and environmental needs.

“This early win is so encouraging for this emerging enterprise,” said CLC director David Ross.

“It allows Aboriginal people to burn their country in a controlled manner early in the dry season in order to reduce massive amounts of greenhouse gasses that large and dangerous wildfires later in the year would otherwise cause.”

This abatement is measured and sold to the Commonwealth who uses it to meet its international emissions reduction commitments.

“The corporation will be able to claim its dry season burn from April this year and expects to earn its first carbon credits next July,” Mr Ross said.

The carbon credits will pay for annual fire management of a 3000 square kilometre portion of the land trust, including seasonal employment of locals.

“When burning starts again, next dry season, a dozen Aboriginal people will be hired to work with our rangers from Daguragu and Tennant Creek, but the benefits don’t stop there,” he said.

“If our successful ranger program is any guide, there will be wider social and environmental outcomes, such as improved biodiversity and reinvigorated cultural traditions.

More sustained employment outcomes would be possible if the Commonwealth funded a ranger group at Elliott or Marlinja.”

The CLC has visited the area with the traditional owners for the past three years to burn country, carry out biological surveys, monitor weeds and visit significant sites.

Before it started to work with traditional owners the rarely visited remote area experienced frequent out-of-control bushfires late in the dry season that also affected neighbouring pastoral properties.

The CLC rangers will help the corporation to carry out burning activities on a cost recovery basis for the next five years. Other CLC staff will co-ordinate the project on behalf of the corporation while building its governance capacity.

The traditional owners jumped at the chance to set up a business when a new methodology for savannah burning made the northernmost area of their land trust eligible to bid at the ERF auction.

The Central Land Council has made sure local Aboriginal people will get a chance to have their say about the referendum on the constitutional recognition of indigenous people at a regional meeting near Alice Springs, as well as a national convention at Uluru.

Central Australia’s so-called First Nations Regional Dialogue will go ahead 31 March – 2 April at Ross River, east of Alice Springs, following a decision by the CLC members to help organise both gatherings.

One of 12 meetings across the country, the Ross River meeting will be a chance for participants to debate what the referendum question should cover.

The CLC wrote to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in 2015, asking for an Aboriginal-only meeting in its region.

CLC delegates agreed to a request by the Referendum Council for the CLC to provide facilitation and logistical support for the meeting and helped to draw up a list of 100 invitees.

“Traditional owners, Aboriginal organisations and individuals all need to be represented,” said CLC director David Ross.

“The Referendum Council also wants us to facilitate a mix of ages, genders and regions.”

Mr Ross and Barbara Shaw, the general manager of Anyinginyi Health in Tennant Creek, agreed to chair the meeting while the CLC’s Dr Josie Douglas and Francine McCarthy will facilitate workshops along with Karl Hampton, Misha Cartwright and Joe Carter.

“The workshops are an opportunity for participants to deliberate on their preferences for recognition but they are not expected to make a final decision,” Mr Ross said.

Each regional dialogue meeting will be asked to send five participants to the national convention at Uluru in April 2017.

The convention will consider the referendum proposal and seek consensus on the question to be put to all Australian voters.

The proposal follows meetings of indigenous leaders in Broome, Thursday Island and Melbourne in the middle of the year which decided how to run the regional dialogues and the national convention and advised politicians not to rush the process.

CLC and NLC delegates passed the following resolution at their joint meeting at Kalkaringi in August 2016:

“We reaffirm our commitment to the principles set out in the 1988 Barunga and 1998 Kalkaringi Statements.

Constitutional reform must deliver meaningful and enduring benefits for our peoples. We are prepared to examine models for constitutional recognition that deliver such benefits.

Indigenous constitutional forums must be held in the NT involving Aboriginal people in the bush.

Any progress towards constitutional recognition must not endanger our rights to negotiate treaties to finally achieve self-determination.”

The management plan for the vast Southern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) is no longer a closed book to the Aboriginal people responsible for looking after the vast and fragile country near the border of the Northern Territory and West Australia.

Frustrated with the wordy and complex IPA management plan, the Warlpiri speakers of the Tanami Desert have replaced it with an innovative and engaging digital storybook that puts them in charge by literally speaking their language.

The interactive web application at www.walyaku.org.au requires neither literacy nor English skills because it replaces the text with short videos, audio and animation in Warlpiri, allowing viewers to move through the management plan by following voice navigation prompts and icons.

“We searched the globe for something traditional owners could understand and own but we could not find anything remotely like it, so they came up with their own digital plan that’s exciting, entertaining and a world first,” says CLC director David Ross.

“The digital storybook overcomes the digital divide between our communities and mainstream Australia because it doesn’t even require an internet connection. Who said innovation and agility are only for cities?”

The product of more than two years of research, trial and error, the storybook can also be accessed through a desktop application in community learning centres and home computers, as well as through USB sticks for TVs and game consoles.

“And because so many locals were involved in filming, directing, editing, translating, designing and scripting the storybook it has built community pride and ownership before it’s even launched,” Mr Ross says.

The storybook’s creators will present it at the Natural Resource Management Conference in Darwin on 23 November, followed by launches in the remote communities of Yuendumu, Nyirrpi and Willowra from 28 November.

The CLC will evaluate the project to see if it inspires people in the Tanami, especially young people, to become more involved in ranger group activities such as seasonal burning, feral animal management and the protection of threatened species before rolling it out to other groups.

“Already, people in Lajamanu have put aside a quarter of a million dollars of their compensation money from the Granites Mine to create another digital storybook for the Northern Tanami IPA. We expect the idea will take off from here because it fulfills a real need,” says Mr Ross.

“We have dozens of jointly managed national parks in the NT alone, all of them with plans for ‘two-way management’ that most owners of these parks can’t understand.”

Traditional owners are also taking their innovation to the world, with indigenous land managers everywhere welcome to adapt a free digital storybook template to their needs.

The world’s largest gold miner, Newmont, co-funded the project because it recognised the global potential of the digital storybook.

“Traditional owners are already thinking of how their concept can be further developed and taken to the world,” says Mr Ross. “I hope the storybook will become a valuable tool for empowering indigenous people everywhere, no matter how remotely they live.”

CLC delegate Rayleen Silverton spoke up during council’s alcohol policy discussion at Ross River.

The Central Land Council supports the reintroduction of the Banned Drinkers Register (BDR) and calls for additional support for families affected by the Northern Territory’s extreme rate of alcohol consumption.

Meeting at Ross River, east of Alice Springs, the CLC delegates called for the racially discriminatory Temporary Beat Locations (TBL) policy to be removed but accepted that it needs to be phased out.

In their discussion with the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition CLC delegates voiced their expectation that the police resources freed up by the abolition of the TBL will be redirected to tackling the illicit grog trade.

The delegates passed the following resolution:

“The Central Land Council acknowledges the devastating effects of alcohol on Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal families and communities.

Alcoholism is a disease, not a criminal offence.

Alcohol policy should treat all people the same and not discriminate.

The CLC calls for

the TBL to be phased out, and for police to deal only with alcohol issues, not other offences or warrants on the temporary beat;

the BDR to be reintroduced in a way that targets problem drinkers and those with alcohol-related offences;

more support and rehabilitation services for individuals and families living in town and remote communities who are struggling with alcohol issues;

more education for young women and their families about the impact of alcohol and the risk of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder; and

greater transparency about and access to the process of seeking a permit or exemption for a dry area.”

Dianne Ungukalpi Golding’s work Helicopter chasing camels celebrates Aboriginal rangers.

Hetti Perkins’ art pick celebrates 40 years of land rights Art lovers from around the world are in for a special treat as curator Hetti Perkins arrives in Alice Springs this weekend to judge the overall winner of the $15,000 Vincent Lingiari Art Award.

The choice of the eldest daughter of the Central Land Council’s first chair, Charlie Perkins, will be revealed on Wednesday 7th September at Tangentyere Artists Gallery in Alice Springs, at the opening of the Our Land Our Life Our Future exhibition.

Ms Perkins will choose from a shortlist of 23 art works – paintings, installations, sculptures and collaborative works – created by central Australian Aboriginal artists to celebrate the 40th anniversary of land rights.

“The range and quality of works produced for this exhibition indicates the significance of this landmark event in Australia’s history. It is an honour to be part of this celebration and I am excited to see the works displayed at Tangentyere Artists,” said Ms Perkins.

“The breadth of themes and mediums reflects the wonderful diversity of Aboriginal artistic traditions and shows how this cultural bedrock has been so brilliantly interpreted for our contemporary world.

Choosing a winning work from an exhibition of works that are of equally exceptional merit is never going to be easy,” she said.

“I’ll be looking for a work that best captures the moment – the zeitgeist – of Aboriginal experience today in response to the theme of Our Land Our Life Our Future.

While there can only be one winner, the exhibition is certainly a ‘win’ for art lovers as all of these incredible works will be available for sale – a not to be missed opportunity!”

Vincent Lingiari’s son Timmy Vincent is travelling from Kalkaringi to announce the winner.

South Australian artist David Frank, who won the Central Land Council Delegates’ Choice Award for his painting Our Future at Kalkaringi earlier this month, will also travel to the opening from his home community of Indulkana. His work depicts the famous scene of Gough Whitlam pouring red dirt into Vincent Lingiari’s palm.

In June Aboriginal artists from Central Australia submitted one work for each of the 40 years of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (NT) 1976, the high water mark of Aboriginal rights in Australia.

Our Land Our Life Our Future will run for a month and provide Aboriginal workers from Desart member art centres with the chance to gain on the job training and experience in all aspects of curatorial practice.

The exhibition, made possible by the support of Peter Kittle Motor Company, Newmont Australia and the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, kicks off the busy Desert Mob weekend.

NLC Chair Sammy Bush-Blanasi and CLC Chair Francis Kelly

The Northern Territory’s two big land councils have called on whoever wins this week’s NT election to support Aboriginal peoples to drive the development of their lands and waters.

At a historic meeting of the delegates of the Central and Northern land councils at Kalkaringi the delegates passed the following resolution:

“We express our disappointment in the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia and its lack of support for the planning and implementation of Indigenous led developments.

We call on the States, Territory and Commonwealth Governments to work with Indigenous peak organisations to establish a comprehensive planning and implementation strategy focused on delivering economic, ecological and social/cultural benefits to Indigenous people in northern Australia.

Northern Australia holds some of the most important tropical savannah, rainforest and desert landscapes left on earth. Indigenous people are intrinsically entwined in the future of the north and want to play a significant role in its future.

We call on separate resources to be made available to Aboriginal peak organisations to develop the strategy.

Indigenous people are the majority landowners and make up a majority of the population of northern Australia outside of the urban centres.”

CLC and NLC delegates at the joint land council meeting

A historic meeting of the delegates of the Central and Northern land councils at Kalkaringi today agreed on a shared position on constitutional recognition.

The delegates passed the following resolution:

“We reaffirm our commitment to the principles set out in the 1988 Barunga and 1998 Kalkaringi Statements.

Constitutional reform must deliver meaningful and enduring benefits for our peoples.

We are prepared to examine models for constitutional recognition that deliver such benefits.

Indigenous constitutional forums must be held in the NT involving Aboriginal people in the bush.

Any progress towards constitutional recognition must not endanger our rights to negotiate treaties to finally achieve self-determination.”

David Frank’s artwork

South Australian artist David Frank has won the Central Land Council Delegates’ Choice Award for his painting Our Future at the CLC meeting at Kalkaringi today, ahead of a historic joint meeting of Northern Territory land councils tomorrow and on Thursday.

Mr Frank is a ngangkari (traditional healer) and former South Australian Police employee who has worked on cattle stations before taking up painting at Indulkana community’s Iwantja Arts Centre.

The $2,000 prize he won today is part of the Vincent Lingiari Art Award which marks 40 years of land rights and 50 years since the Wave Hill Walk Off that kicked off the national campaign for Aboriginal land rights in 1966.

Our Future depicts the famous scene of Gough Whitlam pouring red dirt into Vincent Lingiari’s palm.

“We, too have been stockmen, many of us,” Mr Frank said. “When we were young we worked hard on cattle stations for rations. Lingiari helped to start the land rights story.”

His painting was one of 23 collaborative works and individual creations in a range of media shortlisted by judges Brenda Croft and Stephen Gilchrist.

Aboriginal artists from Central Australia submitted one work for each of the 40 years of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (NT) 1976, the high water mark of Aboriginal rights in this country.

“Mr Frank’s painting captured the hearts and minds of our elected members,” said CLC chair Francis Kelly, who announced the Delegates Choice Award winner with Mr Lingiari’s son, Timmy Vincent.

“Now we have to be a little bit patient to find out who will win the main $15,000 Vincent Lingiari Art Award prize.”

Curator Hetti Perkins will choose the overall winner on 7th September at Tangentyere Artists Gallery in Alice Springs, at the opening of the Our Land Our Life Our Future exhibition, a collaboration between the CLC and Desart.

“The exhibition is an inspired way to celebrate 40 years of land rights,” said Ms Perkins, the eldest daughter of the CLC’s first chair, Charlie Perkins.

“Our artists express the enduring bond between community, culture and country that is central to our identity as the First Peoples of this land.

In bringing together the work of artists from across Central Australia, CLC and Desart will emphatically show that this is Aboriginal land – always was, always will be.”

“We chose the Tangentyere Artists Gallery for the exhibition to honour the important role town campers played in the early days of land rights,” said CLC director David Ross.

Our Land Our Life Our Future will run for a month and is an opportunity for Aboriginal workers from Desart member art centres to gain on the job training and experience in all aspects of curatorial practice.

Financial support from the Peter Kittle Motor Company, Newmont Australia and the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund made the land rights anniversary art award and the exhibition possible.

For images go to https://goo.gl/photos/Ymr2oNDpXd5U4Lx46

CLC and NLC delegates

An historic meeting at Kalkaringi of the Northern and Central land councils has demanded that the Federal Government hand control of the Aboriginals Benefit Account to Aboriginal people themselves.

ABA funds are generated by mining on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory.

The joint meeting of land councils decided to urgently develop a model for self-control.

“The Minister for Indigenous Affairs should have no role in the dispersement of ABA monies,” said CLC chair Francis Kelly and his NLC counterpart, Samuel Bush-Blanasi.

They also rejected changes proposed by the Minister, Senator Nigel Scullion, to reduce Aboriginal representation on the ABA advisory committee.

“Senator Scullion wants to appoint two independent experts to the advisory committee without any consultation,” the chairmen said.

“Our meeting today also called for resources to help remote community organisations apply for ABA funds to drive their own development.”

The land council delegates plan to question the Minister about his proposed changes tomorrow (Thursday).

Northern Territory Aboriginal peak organisations today welcomed the announcement that Commissioner Brian Martin is stepping down from his role on the Royal Commission into youth detention in the Northern Territory.

“This is an opportunity for a fresh start on the process of forming this Commission”, spokesperson John Paterson said.

“We would like to thank the Commissioner for his courageous and difficult decision.

“We appreciate these past few days must have been a stressful time for him and his family and we commend his action in the face of the controversy that has surrounded the issue.

“We welcome his acknowledgement that his decision has been made foremost in the best interests of our children who are the subject of this inquiry.

“We wish to make it clear that his stepping down in no way reflects on his standing or capacity and we acknowledge his distinguished legal career.

“We again call on the Prime Minister and the Attorney General to consult with us on any further appointments to the Royal Commission”, spokesperson Donna Ah Chee said.

“The Commission should only be headed by somebody who is truly independent with no prior professional relationships in the NT.

“We are asking for a former High Court judge or someone of similar standing to be appointed.

“The Government must consult with us if this process is to be regarded as credible and if we are to have confidence in this Royal Commission and its deliberations.

“It is also essential that we have strong Aboriginal Co-Commissioners – Aboriginal people with standing and knowledge of the Aboriginal community in the NT – to ensure that it a culturally safe and inclusive process. We are calling for two Aboriginal Co-Commissioners, a male and female.

“This is an important opportunity to get this right and work with us rather than to us”, Mr Paterson concluded.

CONTACTS: John Paterson 0418 904 727; Donna Ah Chee 0418 859 416; David Cooper 0418 486 310

Three Northern Territory Aboriginal peak organisations say they are bitterly disappointed that the Prime Minister has ignored their request to be consulted about the terms of reference for the Royal Commission into child protection and youth detention in the Northern Territory, and utterly reject his choice of former NT Chief Justice Brian Martin as the Royal Commissioner.

The organisations are the Northern and Central Land Councils and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT). On Tuesday, a wider group (APONT – Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory) wrote to Prime Minister Turnbull, seeking an opportunity to comment on the terms of reference and urged him to ensure that the Royal Commission be led by an “independent” expert and include Aboriginal representation from the NT. That wider group included two Aboriginal legal aid agencies, Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service (CAALAS) and North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) which are both unable to comment on today’s announcement of the Royal Commission appointment, because they will likely be representing parties before the Commission.

“Prime Minister Turnbull has comprehensively failed us,” said AMSANT Chief Executive John Paterson on behalf of the three organisations. “Yet again the Commonwealth Government has refused to consult with Aboriginal people, in spite of Mr Turnbull’s commitment, now hollow, to ‘do things with Aboriginal people, not to us’. “We are hurt and furious because, yet again, we have been ignored – this time on the most important matter of the safety of our children. “Weare also deeply disturbed that NT Chief Minister Adam Giles was party to developing the terms of reference and selecting the Royal Commissioner,” Mr Paterson said.

The Aboriginal organisations have challenged the statement by the Prime Minister and his Attorney General that the Royal Commission is independent of government. “The appointment of Brian Martin does not satisfy any threshold of independence. On the facts and on perception, the appointment is unacceptable,” said AMSANT Deputy Chair Olga Havnen. “Only a few weeks ago Brian Martin delivered to the NT Government a report about the establishment of a regime to investigate corruption, at the instigation of the now disgraced and former NT Corrections Minister, John Elferink. Mr Martin accepted that commission and was paid for it, so how can Mr Turnbull boast his independence from government?

“There are many other eminent former judges around the country who would qualify as truly independent, but the Prime Minister clearly did not canvas that field. “This appointment is wrong for all manner of reasons, and Aboriginal people in the Territory will not have confidence in the appointment of Brian Martin. As Chief Justice, he sat at the apex of the NT’s justice system. He presided over all judicial officers who sentenced young Aboriginal offenders to detention, and he knew them all; he himself sentenced juveniles to detention.

“Worse,although Mr Martin retired as NT Chief Justice in 2010, he was later that same year appointed as an
additional judge of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory and he continues to hold that appointment. “Finally, we are further upset that the terms of reference are not cast widely enough to include the wider NT youth justice system, rather than a narrow focus on youth detention, and that they do not specify an examination of the huge over-representation of Aboriginal youth in detention.

“Not only does the Northern Territory justice system lock up more juveniles than any other jurisdiction, more than 90 per cent of those detainees are Aboriginal.

“Mr Turnbull has let us down badly,” Ms Havnen said.

The Northern Territory’s main Aboriginal land councils, medical and legal services have written to the Prime Minister, urging him to keep the Royal Commission into juvenile justice at arms’ length from the Giles government because it is part of the problem under investigation.

The coalition of peak NT Aboriginal organisations also asked the PM to honour his word and do things with rather than to Aboriginal people by involving them in the development of the commission’s terms of reference.

“We urge you to ensure that Aboriginal people and organisations are fully engaged in the
process and that it is one that is entirely independent of the Northern Territory Government,” the letter states.

The coalition, which represents the vast majority of Aboriginal people in the Territory, yesterday led calls on the Australian Parliament to dismiss the Northern Territory Government over the abuse of children in detention.

“We do not make this call lightly but any government that enacts policies designed to harm children and enables a culture of brutalisation and cover-ups, surrenders its right to govern,” the organisations write.

“In relation to the Royal Commission we would also like to make these specific requests of you:

Ensure that the Northern Territory Government has no role in the development or oversight of the Royal Commission, including the provision of funding or developing the terms of reference.

We can have no confidence in the Northern Territory Government, given not only its protracted inaction in relation to the matters raised, but also the manner in which the public has
been actively misled in relation to events.

  1. The Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory (APO NT) be given an opportunity to
    comment on the draft Terms of Reference.
  2. That the Royal Commission be chaired by an independent expert and must have Aborigina representation from the NT.
  3. The terms of reference must necessarily be broader than the incidents exposed in the Four Corners program. It is vital that it considers issues closely related to the treatment of young people in detention, including:

• legislation and policies that underpin the treatment of young people in detention,
including the use of force and isolation;

• the over-representation of Aboriginal young people in detention, especially on remand;

• the role of the Department of Children and Families in caring for Aboriginal young
people who come in contact with the criminal justice system;

• the need for specialist approaches to the policing of young people;

• the availability of trauma support and counselling for Aboriginal young people in the
community;

• examine all previous enquiries relating to youth justice in the NT for cover ups and
uncover why the recommendations were not implemented; and

• not limit how far into the past the Commission can inquire.

  1. It is imperative that Aboriginal organisations are properly funded to provide support to people in
    connection with the Royal Commission, including legal representation and counselling.

The letter thanks the PM for his leadership in recognising the national importance of these issues.

The APO NT letter is signed by David Ross and Joe Morrison on behalf of the Central and Northern land councils, Priscilla Collins and Eileen van Iersel on behalf of the NT Aboriginal Legal Services NAAJA and CAALAS and John Paterson on behalf of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT, AMSANT.

Narwietooma traditional owners

Native title holders of two pastoral properties near Alice Springs have celebrated native title consent determinations at special sittings of the Federal Court at two remote central Australian outstations.

Justice Rangiah handed down two non-exclusive native title consent determinations at Cockatoo Creek and M’Bunghara outstations last week.

At a sitting at Cockatoo Creek east of Yuendumu on 16 June he handed down a determination of native title over the whole of Mt Denison Station, more than 2,700 square kilometres.

The determination at M’Bunghara outstation, one day earlier, was in relation to an area covering the whole of Narwietooma Station, almost 2,600 square kilometres, and a portion of the Dashwood Creek where the claimants proved exclusive possession.

CLC chair Francis Kelly said he hopes the Mt Denison determination will improve the relationship between the traditional owners and the pastoral lease holders.

“It will make it easier to share the country,” he said.

Mr Kelly said the court’s determinations recognise the groups’ rights to hunt, gather and fish, as well as to conduct cultural activities and ceremonies on their land.

“It also gives them the right to negotiate about exploration and mining.”

These rights will co-exist with the Mt Denison and Narwietooma pastoral leases, which will continue to be run as cattle stations.

The Mt Denison native title holders belong to the Rrkwer [YURR-koo-roo]/Mamp [Mamp]/Arrwek [YARR-oo-koo], Yinjirrpikurlangu [Yin-JEER-pick-er-lung], Janyinpartinya [Jan-YIN-part-in-ya], Yanarilyi [Yan-yar-ILL-yee] and Ngarliyikirlangu [NAR-li-ker-lung] landholding groups.

Their native title rights and interests will be held by their Registered Native Title Body Corporate, the Mt Denison Aboriginal Corporation.

The Narwietooma native title holders are Western Arrernte and Anmatyerr [un-MAT-jara] speakers and belong to the Imperlknge [Ee-MALK-na], Urlatherrke [Ula-TER-ka], Parerrule [Pare-RU-la], Yaperlpe [Ja-PAL-pa], Urlampe [Oo-LAM-ba], Lwekerreye [Loo-KA-ria] and Ilewerr [Iloo-AA-ra] landholding groups and people who have rights and interests in the area of land known as Kwerlerrethe [KOO-lara-ta].

The Wala Aboriginal Corporation, whose members are the common law native title holders, will become the Registered Native Title Body Corporate that holds their rights and interests.

Simpson desert country handed back to traditional owners in 2011

Eastern Arrernte traditional owners will receive Aboriginal freehold title to a missing piece of the vast Simpson Desert land claim on Monday, June 6.

The grant concludes one of the largest and longest running land claims in the CLC region, 36 years after it was first lodged.

The title to the 110,000 hectare area, also known as NT Portion 4208, will be granted to the Atnetye (pronounced at-NIT-cha) Aboriginal Land Trust in a handback ceremony at Keringke Arts in Santa Teresa community at 11.30 am.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion and the Federal Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon will attend the ceremony.

Many of the traditional owners of the area, from the Uleperte (pronounced oo-la-PUR-ta) and Uleralkwe (pronounced oo-la-RALK-wa) estate groups, live at Santa Teresa, Alice Springs and along the Plenty Highway.

Former Aboriginal Land Commissioner Howard Olney gave his report on the Simpson Desert Land Claim Stage IV in 2009.

Although NT Portion 4208 had not previously been recommended for grant he suggested that, given his findings of traditional ownership of the Uleperte estate and the subsequent location of an important sacred site, that the Australian government consider granting that land to the traditional owners.

It was not included in the title to 18,000 square kilometres of the Simpson Desert returned by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2011.

Following representations from the CLC, Senator Scullion advised in May 2014 that NT Portion 4208 would be included in a schedule to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act and handed back to the traditional owners.

“There’s plenty of sacred sites there and we still have plenty of ceremony and pass the knowledge on,” the late former CLC chair Lindsay Bookie said during the 2011 Simpson Desert handback ceremony.

“Our culture has stayed really strong and we know all the places and all the stories and songs.”

Mr Bookie was one of the claimants who gave evidence about their cultural and spiritual links to country in hearings held in the Simpson Desert but not a traditional owner of the land to be handed back on Monday.

He said even though the Simpson Desert was remote, people were still strongly connected to their country.

“The traditional owners already look after that country but now it’s ours we can control visitors’ behaviour a bit better because they will have to have a permit.

We want them to keep our country clean and not chuck their rubbish around like some travellers have done,” Mr Bookie said.

“They’ve got to look after the country, we’ve all got to do it.”

The Central Land Council has welcomed opposition leader Bill Shorten’s promise to double the number of indigenous ranger jobs if Labor wins the federal election.

“Today’s announcement backs one of Australia’s biggest Aboriginal success stories,” said CLC director David Ross.

“It’s a sound investment in our future generations, our shared environment and a long overdue example of politicians listening to Aboriginal people when they tell them what’s working.”

“Voters in remote communities no doubt would like to hear whether the Prime Minster also has more jobs and growth to offer them than working for the dole,” Mr Ross said.

He said the CLC is examining the detail of the announcement to determine whether it means ranger jobs in the southern half of the Northern Territory will increase from currently 100 to 200 if Labor wins the election.

“We hope that it will allow us to respond to increasing community demand and environmental need for more ranger jobs and double the number of CLC ranger groups in our region from currently 10 to 20 groups within the next three years.”

“There’s never been a more exciting time to be a ranger or a school kid in a remote community,” said Benjamin Kenny, co-ordinator of the CLC’s Kaltukatjara rangers in Docker River near the Northern Territory/Western Australian border.

Mr Kenny flew to Canberra late last year to lobby politicians for more ranger group funding.

His team of only six rangers operates on the smell of an oily rag to manage threats such as feral animals, weeds and fire across the five million hectare Katiti Petermann Indigenous Protected Area.

Australia’s newest IPA completely surrounds and dwarfs Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park.

“The men and women in our group are really happy about the announcement because it means more of their families can get proper jobs and training looking after country, together with our elders and children.”

“Most of our kids want to be rangers when they grow up. That helps to keep them at school but until now their chances of landing a ranger job have been very limited because there are so few of those jobs,” he said.

Mr Kenny said the CLC’s ranger program is so popular because it has been developed with Aboriginal people and combines the latest science with Aboriginal ecological knowledge.

“Our ancestors have worked on this country for thousands of years to protect it and look after it.

They were rangers before our time and everything that we are doing today is the same as what our ancestors have done.”

The CLC has called on Mr Turnbull to match Mr Shorten’s promise.

Related story : ABC Lateline story broadcast on 26/05/2016

Nuclear waste dump Titjikala consultation

Central Land Council chair Francis Kelly has congratulated the closest neighbours of the shortlisted site for a national nuclear waste storage facility near Alice Springs on their successful campaign opposing the proposal.

The residents of the remote communities of Oak Valley, Walkabout Bore, Titjikala and Santa Teresa are learning today that the Arid Gold Date Farm has been excluded from the federal government’s shortlist.

“They have worked hard to have their voices heard and are breathing a big sigh of relief,” said Mr Kelly.

“Earlier this year the CLC met with all three communities’ traditional owners, government representatives and conservation groups to make sure the residents had all the information they needed to make up their minds.

The communities decided to oppose the nuclear waste dump and we’ve supported them all the way.

My heart goes out to the Adnyamathanha traditional owners whose country is left in the race now.”

Mr Kelly expressed surprise that the federal government claims ‘broad levels of community support’ for the Barndioota site near Hawker in the Flinders Ranges.

The site which was nominated by a former Liberal Party politician is adjacent to the Yappala Indigenous Protected Area.

“What about the people who must look after that country?” he asked. “They have also spoken up strongly against a nuclear waste dump.

Nobody asked them before their country was nominated. They are in the same boat as our mob was and they must really be in shock today.”

Mr Kelly said the CLC has consistently advocated for a site selection process based on science and true community consent, not on politics.

Central Land Council delegates today re-elected Francis Kelly and Sammy Butcher as chair and deputy chair respectively and condemned proposed changes to the ABA Advisory Committee.

Mr Kelly, a film maker from Yuendumu, beat his closest rival for the position of chair, Sid Anderson from Papunya, by 53 to 31 votes.

Papunya musician Sammy Butcher was re-elected deputy chair with 47 votes, while runner-up Michael Liddle received 38 votes at the CLC meeting at Yulara Pulka near Uluru.

“I’m very grateful to the delegates for allowing me to finish the job I began in 2014,” Mr Kelly said.

I’m looking forward to working closely with the CLC executive and the staff, especially Mr David Ross, our director.”

The newly elected nine-member Executive Committee are Ngarla Kunoth-Monks, Norbert Patrick, Teddy Long, Sid Anderson, Michael Liddle, Leo Petrick, Jasper Haines, Sammy Wilson and Owen Torres.

Elected delegates from 75 remote communities and outstations across the south of the Northern Territory also elected members for the Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA) Advisory Committee.

They elected five members even though the federal Indigenous Affairs Minister plans to cut two of the CLC’s ABA Advisory Committee members from November 2016, and add two hand-picked experts.

The delegates condemned the plan as an erosion of Aboriginal control over the expenditure of the royalties-equivalent-funded ABA community grants program.

“The minister already has the final say and often overrules our advice. It’s time he handed responsibility for Aboriginal money back to the elected representatives of Aboriginal people,” said Mr Kelly, a former ABA Advisory Committee member.

“Aboriginal voters in the Territory will not stand for more top-down control over income they want to use to strengthen their communities. It should be our priorities that count, not the governments’.”

Council, which has reserved two of the five ABA Advisory Committee positions for female delegates, elected Valerie Martin, Barbara Shaw, Phillip Wilyuka, Harry Nelson and Kelvin Morrison.

ABA Advisory Committee members and CLC delegates serve three year terms.

The CLC election was carried out by the Australian Electoral Commission.

Elected delegates from 75 remote communities and outstations across the south of the Northern Territory are travelling to Uluru today to vote for a new Central Land Council chair, deputy chair and Executive Committee.

The 90 delegates will also elect five members of the Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA) Advisory Committee, which advises the Indigenous Affairs Minister on the expenditure of the royalties equivalent-funded community grants program.

Council has reserved two of the five positions for female delegates.

ABA Advisory Committee members and CLC delegates serve three year terms, with delegate elections for the current term of council concluding last week.

The leadership elections at Yulara Pulka outstation on Wednesday, 20 April, overseen by the Australian Electoral Commission, will use a preferential voting system.

Ahead of the vote, the new delegates will take part in an all-day induction at the Ayers Rock Resort on Tuesday, 19 April.

The session aims to help delegates to familiarise themselves with their responsibilities of determining the CLC policy and strategic direction, as well as with new legislation.

“The day is only the first step in the CLC’s ongoing governance capacity development program,” said CLC director David Ross.

“Our policy staff has teamed up with a locally experienced governance expert to design and deliver a program that meets the unique needs of our elected members and builds on their strengths.”

Council meets three times per year in different locations across the CLC region, while the Executive meets between Council meetings.

Delegates and Executive members also attend regional meetings in remote communities throughout the year.

Download the CLC’s governance manual (.pdf)

Traditional landowners of two adjoining pastoral stations north of Alice Springs will celebrate a native title consent determination tomorrow.

Justice Reeves will hand down a non-exclusive native title consent determination at a special sitting of the Federal Court on the Hanson River on Stirling Station, approximately 260 km north of Alice Springs.

The almost 15,000 square kilometre determination area covers the whole of Stirling Station and the southern and eastern portions of Neutral Junction Station.

The north-western portion of Neutral Junction Station around the Crawford Range was the subject of a previous native title determination in July 2011.

The traditional owners are Anmatyerr and Kaytetye speakers from 13 different landholding groups – Akalperre, Amakweng, Alapanp, Arlwekarr, Arlpawe, Arnerre, Arnmanapwenty, Errene/Warlekerlange, Errweltye, Kwerrkepentye, Rtwerrpe, Tyarre Tyarre and Wake.

From tomorrow, the members of these groups will hold native title rights over the determination area and govern how rights and interests in land are acquired and held within the area.

The CLC originally filed their native title application in July 2011, in response to mining exploration license applications (future acts).

“The traditional owners were concerned about the protection of sites and wanted to have a say over exploration on their country,” said CLC director David Ross.

“The court’s determination will recognise the groups’ traditional rights to hunt, gather and fish, as well as to conduct cultural activities and ceremonies on their land.

It will also secure their right to negotiate over any future acts, such as exploration and mining.”

Mr Ross said these rights will co-exist with the pastoral leases, which will continue to be run as cattle stations.

The Eynewantheyne Aboriginal Corporation will become the Registered Native Title Body Corporate that holds the native title rights and interests on behalf of its members.

Justice Debbie Mortimer and Eadie Holmes celebrate the Sandover native title determination at Honeymoon Bore.

Alyawarr and Kaytetye speakers from 19 land holding groups this week won recognition of their native title rights over 18,800 square kilometers of land in the Sandover region.

The determination area incorporates Ammaroo, Derry Downs, Murray Downs and Elkedra Perpetual Pastoral Leases (PPLs). 

Justice Mortimer handed down the native title determination by consent of the parties at a special sitting of the Federal Court at Honeymoon Bore, near Ampilatwatja community, approximately 325 kilometres northeast of Alice Springs. 

“The groups’ right to hunt and gather, to conduct cultural activities and ceremonies and to negotiate about ‘future acts’ like mining will now co-exist with the pastoral leases and the PPLs will continue to be run as cattle stations,” explained CLC director David Ross. 

CLC chair Francis Kelly and Mr Ross congratulated the native title holders and paid tribute to the claimants who have passed away during the claim process. 

Mr Ross said the CLC filed the native title application 13 years ago in response to traditional owners’ concerns over future mining and horticultural development on their land.

“They wanted to ensure they would be able to continue to protect their sacred sites and to have a say over exploration and development on their traditional country.” he said. 

“Our children will rise up and they will continue to stand up for their rights, as we are standing,” said Gilbert Corbett of the Atnwengerrp landholding group.

“Also, remembering our poor old people … remembering all our people – from north, east and west. I thank you all.”

The determination of non-exclusive native title rights is supported by an Indigenous Land Agreement which allows for the incorporation of the former stock routes and former stock reserve on Ammaroo PPL into the pastoral lease and compensation for the native title holders.

As part of the compensation package a small parcel of land adjoining the Aherrenge Aboriginal Land Trust will be excised from Ammaroo PPL and scheduled as Aboriginal Land under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act.  

The Alyawarr Awenyerre Aperte Ingkerr-Wenh Aboriginal Corporation will become the Registered Native Title Body Corporate that holds the native title rights and interests on behalf of its members. 

Bushy Park native title holders and Justice White (second left) celebrate with a cake at Edwards Creek Station.

In a big week for native title holders in Central Australia the Federal Court this week recognised the native title rights of groups at both Kalkarindji and Bushy Park Station.

The Court sat in Kalkarindji – a keystone of the modern land rights movement – on Wednesday 7 May 2014 to hand down a determination of native title by consent over the Kalkarindji township in favour of the local Gurindji people and today the native title holders for Bushy Park Perpetual Pastoral Lease (PPL) gathered on the station at Edwards Creek, approximately 115 kilometres northeast of Alice Springs, for another sitting of the Court to recognise the native title rights of the Ilkewarn, Atwel/Alkwepetye and Ayampe people.

At the Kalkarindji hearing the Director of the CLC, David Ross, congratulated the traditional owners: “Standing with you here in your country, it is wonderful to see the long and proud tradition of Gurindji people is continuing, fighting for and achieving just recognition of your rights in traditional lands.” Mr Ross also noted that with the successful outcome of negotiations between the Northern Territory Government and traditional owners the development of Kalkarindji was well provided for.

In a speech following the court hearing at Kalkarindji Roslyn Frith, a senior traditional owner and director of the Gurinidji Aboriginal Corporation, the prescribed body corporate, also celebrated the persistence of the Gurindji people: “We hold the land in our hands and recognition here today is another milestone in the continuing campaign for Aboriginal land rights.”

Ms Frith also thanked the Federal Court and the Central Land Council and its staff for their assistance in lodging and pursuing the claim, together with the Northern Territory Government for its consent to the settlement.

The Bushy Park PPL Native Title determination application was filed with the Court on 13 December 2012 and Justice White presided over the Court to recognise the non-exclusive native title rights of the Ilkewarn, Atwel/Alkwepetye and Ayampe landholding groups.

The CLC Director passed on his congratulations to the Ilkewarn, Atwel/Alkwepetye and Ayampe native title holders and senior native title holder Eric Penangk attested to the recognition from the court:

“Ceremony and culture has to pass to the young people. Aboriginal law and whitefella law can work together.”

Bushy Park PPL is located in the east off the Plenty Highway and covers an area of 1695 square kilometres. The perpetual pastoral lease will continue to run as a pastoral lease.

The Federal Court will recognise the native title rights of groups from the Ngaliya Warlpiri people on 3 July 2013

The Federal Court will be sitting at 8 Mile Bore on Mt Doreen Station Perpetual Pastoral Lease (PPL), approximately 400 kilometres northwest of Alice Springs, to make a determination by consent of native title over Mt Doreen PPL.

Justice Reeves will preside over the Court to recognise the non-exclusive native title rights of the Jiri/Kuyukurlangu, Kumpu, Kunajarrayi, Mikanji, Pikilyi, Pirrpirrpakarnu, Wantungurru, Wapatali/Mawunji, Warlukurlangu, Yamaparnta, Yarripiri and Yarungkanyi/Murrku estate groups, who are part of the Ngaliya Warlpiri people.

The native title claimants’ country includes the area in which Mt Doreen Station is located.

The current owners, the Braitling family, will continue to operate Mt Doreen as a pastoral lease.

CLC Director David Ross congratulated the Ngaliya Warlpiri native title holders and paid tribute to claimants who have passed away during the application process.

An initial application was filed with the Court in 2005 after a mining company was granted an exploration licence over an area of significant cultural importance to the native title holders on Mt Doreen Station.

The native title holders were keen to protect these areas of high significance and instructed CLC to lodge a native title application over the area. This application was withdrawn on 11 October 2011 and a new native title application over the whole of the pastoral lease was filed with the Court on 14 October 2011.

On 2 July 2013 the Federal Court will be sitting at Laramba Community Living Area, approximately 210 kilometres northwest of Alice Springs, to make a determination by consent of native title over nearby Napperby Perpetual Pastoral Lease (PPL).

The Federal court will recognise the non-exclusive native title rights of the Anmatyerr and Arrernte people whose country includes the area where Napperby Station is located. Justice Reeves will preside over the court.

The current owners will continue to operate Napperby as a pastoral lease.

CLC Director David Ross congratulated the native title holders and paid tribute to the many claimants who have passed away while this process has taken place.

The original application was filed with the court in 2005 as a result of a mining company being granted an exploration licence over an area of important cultural significance to the Alherramp/Rrweltyapet, Ilewerr, Mamp/Arrwek, Tywerl, Arrangkey, Anentyerr/Anenkerr and Ntyerlkem/Urapentye estate groups on the station lease.

The native title holders were anxious to protect these areas of high significance and instructed CLC to lodge a native title application over the area.

This application was withdrawn on 17 March 2011 and a new native title application over the whole of the pastoral lease was filed with the court.

Lawyers and representatives from the landholding groups with Native Title documents for Lake Nash and Georgina Downs.

Native Title has been declared on two pastoral leases near the Queensland border.

On Wednesday 15 August the Federal Court of Australia sat at Alpurrurulam Community approximately 650 kilometres northeast of Alice Springs to recognise the rights and interests of native title holders of the Lake Nash and Georgina Downs pastoral leases.

The native title application was filed with the court in 2001 on behalf of the Ilperrelhelam, Malarrarr, Nwerrarr, Meyt, Itnwerrengayt and Ampwertety landholding groups.

The Court’s determination recognises their traditional rights, including the rights to access and hunt, gather and fish on the land and waters, the right to conduct cultural activities and ceremonies, the right to camp on the land, erect shelters and other structures, and it secures their right to negotiate over any future acts such as mining.

Lake Nash and Georgina Downs are run as pastoral stations and the claimants’ native title rights will co-exist with the rights of the pastoral leaseholders to graze cattle.  

CLC Director David Ross congratulated the native title holders and paid tribute to the many claimants who passed away during the process.

After a long battle, Lake Nash (Alpurrurulam) became a Community Living Area in 1991 which meant a small area of land was excised from the station to enable the traditional owners to live there. Many of the current claimants or their parents were born and lived on Lake Nash Station near the waterhole for most of their lives.

Neutral Junction native title holders with the determination

The traditional owners of the Neutral Junction area hope that the Federal Court’s decision to recognise their native title rights over their country will help them to protect a critical cluster of sacred sites.

In July 2011 the Federal Court visited Arnerre, an outstation within the Neutral Junction pastoral lease, 300 kilometres north of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, to hand down its determination by consent of the parties recognising the native title rights of traditional owners .

The decision is an important step in the traditional owners’ longstanding battle to protect their country and will ensure their ability to negotiate over future uses of the land, particularly over any mining activity.

As is normally the case in the Northern Territory, the recognition of native title provides few additional rights to traditional owners other than those already provided for under the Pastoral Lands Act, including the right of access, hunting, and the right to reside and build shelters.

But at Neutral Junction, where a known gold reserve exists in the same area as a critically important complex of sacred sites, it was the threat of mining that prompted traditional owners to seek recognition of their native title rights, and to ensure their right to negotiate over any future exploration and mining.

Traditional owners have historically resisted any exploration in this region, and any form of ground disturbance has caused a high level of anxiety to senior people.

In the early 1990s the Central Land Council asked the Northern Territory minister responsible for mines to declare a Reservation from Occupancy under the Mining Act over a portion of the Crawford and Osborne Ranges in order to protect sacred sites. Unfortunately the minister refused.

For some years the area has been protected by agreements between the CLC and exploration and mining companies not to interfere with the sites, and the traditional owners hope that recognition of their native title rights will strengthen this protection in future.

The application area comprises 1664 square kilometres of the northwestern section of the Neutral Junction Pastoral Lease and includes the parallel Crawford and Osborne Ranges, the floodout of the Taylor Creek and flat spinifex plains.

The estate is located centrally within the territory of the Kaytetye people, who have maintained their customs and laws remarkably well considering the changes that have been brought since their first encounter with Europeans 149 years ago, when John McDouall Stuart camped at Taylor Creek in 1862.

Native title holders and Justice Reeves.

In July 2011, the Federal Court of Australia visited Injaridjin Waterhole on the Davenport Range National Park, roughly 400 kilometres north of Alice Springs, to recognise the native title rights of the traditional owners of the Kurundi pastoral lease.

The court  handed down its native title consent determination recognising the non-exclusive native title rights of the claimants over the 3857 square kilometres held under the Kurundi Perpetual Pastoral Lease (PPL).

The decision is the outcome of a native title claim made on behalf of the Mirtartu, Warupunju, Arrawajin and Tijampara landholding groups.

The court’s determination recognises their traditional rights, including the right to hunt, gather and fish on the land and waters, the right to conduct cultural activities and ceremonies, the right to live on the land, and for that purpose, to camp, erect shelters and other structures, and it secures their right to negotiate over any future acts such as mining.

The native title claimants have maintained their strong connection to their country on the Kurundi pastoral lease in sometimes difficult circumstances.

Many of the claimants and their ancestors have lived and worked at the station over many decades. Working as stockmen gave them an opportunity to stay on their country, learn all their stories and abide by their law.

Claimant Pilot Carr was born on the end of the Kurundi airstrip and lived and worked as a stockman on Kurundi Station most of his life. Another, Pat Murphy, was born on the station, and his father, Murphy Jappanangka, worked as a stockman there, later taking part in the Kurundi walk-off for equal wages in 1977.

The claimants hope that the determination will help them to continue to protect their country and sacred sites on Kurundi Station into the future. 

The Kurundi PPL continues to be run as a cattle station, and the native title rights recognised by the Federal Court will co-exist with the pastoral lease.

The Native Title Determination Application over Kurundi pastoral lease was originally filed on 28 February 2001 in response to the desire of traditional owners to better protect sacred sites and to safeguard their rights.

There have been a number of successful land claims bordering Kurundi PPL resulting in the grant of Aboriginal land. Bordering Kurundi PPL on the south is Anurrete Aboriginal Land Trust (ALT) and Erlterlapentye ALT (Davenport Range National Park), and on the western border are Mungkarta and Warumungu ALTs. On the southwest border lies Singleton PPL and on the east is Epenarra PPL.

Justice Reeves presenting copies of the determination to Banjo Morton and Angeline Morton

A native title consent determination for exclusive possession of Ooratippra pastoral lease was handed down by Justice Reeves at a special sitting of the Federal Court at Ooratippra on 5 May 2011.

Ooratippra pastoral lease is situated 300 kilometres northwest of Alice Springs on the Sandover Highway. It covers 4292 square kilometres and is owned by the Ooratippra Aboriginal Corporation.

The Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) purchased Ooratippra Station PPL in May 1999 after years of lobbying by native title holders who wanted title and the ability to run their own cattle business on their own land.

Title was transferred to the Ooratippra Aboriginal Corporation in October 2000.

In 2001, the CLC lodged the Ooratippra native title application on behalf of the Irrkwal, Irrmarn, Ntewerrek, Aharreng, Arrty/Amatyerr and Areyn estate groups of the Alyawarr language group. 

The application covered the whole of the station, which includes the Irretety Community Living Area held by the Irretety Aboriginal Corporation.

As Ooratippra Station PPL and Irretety CLA are owned by native title holders, they were able to claim exclusive possession under the Native Title Act. The native title determination secures their traditional rights and, in particular, their right to exclusive possession of the land, as well as the right to negotiate over any future acts like mining.

Ooratippra can run up to 4000 head of cattle and will continue to be leased out to a neighbouring landowner who will, over time, assist in the re-establishment of a locally managed cattle herd.

Any future work will now be directed towards the setting up of the a prescribed body corporate.

The first native title consent determination between traditional owners and a non-government conservation organisation was handed down by Justice Reeves at a special sitting of the Federal Court at the Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary on 8 December 2010.

The determination was an excellent example of how leaseholders and native title holders can work together for the benefit of all involved.

Newhaven Station covers an area of more than 2600 square kilometres northeast of Alice Springs and is one of the largest non-government conservation areas in the world. It is a hotspot for threatened species such as black-footed rock wallabies, brush tailed mulgara and great desert skinks. One of the few recent sightings of the endangered night parrot was also recorded on Newhaven.

Birds Australia initially acquired the pastoral lease for conservation with support from the Australian Government’s National Reserve System program before transferring the lease under a partnership with Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC).

The consent determination is important because it recognises that Aboriginal laws and customs still hold a place of importance in today’s society. It also further strengthens the working relationship between AWC and the Warlpiri-Luritja traditional owners that has built up over the past five years cooperating on fire management and biological survey projects on the property.

The traditional owners and AWC now look forward to a continuing partnership that draws on a combination of science and traditional knowledge to secure the extraordinary conservation values of Newhaven and help achieve the socio-economic aspiration of traditional owners.

Any future work will now be directed towards the setting up of a prescribed body corporate.

Justice Collier presents copies of the determination to Thommy Thompson and Georgie Anderson

The determination of native title over the entire Singleton Pastoral Lease was handed down by Justice Collier at a special sitting of the Federal Court at Alekerange on 7 September 2010.

The determination area covers an area of nearly 3000 square kilometres on Singleton, which is north of Alekerange and south of Tennant Creek.

The determination by consent is between the parties, the applicants and respondents, the NT Government and NT Gas.

The parties have agreed that non-exclusive native title exists on Singleton in favour of the applicants and provides for native title holders to access the property for traditional activities such as hunting and ceremony.

It also allows native title holders to be considered if a third party plans any development on the determination area.

Any future work will now be directed towards setting up a prescribed body corporate.

Anmatyerr people had their native title rights and interests over Pine Hill Station, southeast of Ti Tree, formally recognised by the Federal Court of Australia at a ceremony at Desert Bore on August 9, 2009.

The court handed down a consent determination to native title applicants Lindsay Bird Ampetyane and and others on behalf of the  Ilkewartn and the Ywel (pronounced IL-COW-WART-NA and YULA ) estate groups of the Anmatyerr people.  

A  consent determination means that  all parties have agreed that native title rights and interests do exist over a particular area.

The Central Land Council lodged the native title application in 1999.

 CLC Director David Ross said he was always pleased when land issues were resolved without costly court actions.

“I am extremely pleased for the traditional owners and congratulate them on this outcome which protects their rights into the future,” Mr Ross said.

“It guarantees them a seat at the table in an area known for its horticultural development and extremely significant in the economic development of Central Australia,” he said. 

Mr Ross also paid tribute to the contribution and dedication of the senior traditional owners some of which were involved in the application from its inception.

The Ilkewartn group mainly live in the communities of Mulga Bore, Wilora and Alice Springs. Senior Ilkewartn traditional owner, Lindsay Bird, who now lives at Mulga Bore, grew up on the neighbouring Bushy Park Station walked all over his country on Pine Hill with his family collecting bush tucker and learning about his sites and law.

Traditional owners Dorothy Ampetyane, Bunny Ampetyane and Rosemary Ampetyane lived traditional lives at Desert Bore and also grazed sheep and goats.

The Ywel group live at Ti Tree, Aileron and Laramba.

Traditional owner Archie Glenn’s father and mother worked at both Aileron and Pine Hill stations and the family visited their sacred sites on Pine Hill on the weekends.  

One of the most significant sacred sites for Warumungu, Kaytetye, Warlpiri and Alyawarr people in the Tennant Creek region is being handed back to its traditional owners, 28 years after they first made their claim for title to it. 

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin will hand title to traditional owners of Karlu Karlu (The Devils Marbles) at a ceremony at the site, 100 km south of Tennant Creek today (Tuesday 28 October 2008).

The Minister will also hand back title to the Alyawarr, Kaytetye, Warumungu and Wakaya traditional owners of the Davenport Range National Park The Ayleparrarntenhe Aboriginal Land Trust will hold title to 17.75 square kilometers of land at Karlu Karlu and the Erlterlapentye Aboriginal Land Trust will hold title to 1119 square kilometers of the proposed Davenport Murchison Range National Park . The neighbouring Anurrete Aboriginal Land Trust will also lease 156 square kilometers of its land to the national park.

CLC Director David Ross said the hand backs will be an emotional event for the traditional owners of the land.

“In the case of Karlu Karlu, these people have fought for years to protect this place against developments which would have seen road detours and a railway line cut through the site,” he said.

“Many people have passed away: one custodian lost all of his brothers over the years but continued to fight for their site.

“Similarly the proposed Davenport Range National Park has had a painful past, especially in its establishment when sites were bulldozed and desecrated and traditional owners completely disregarded during the clearing of the park boundaries.

“I congratulate all of them for their courage, persistence and resilience – it’s been a tough, and often a very sad road for all of them and I sincerely hope that these hand backs will provide a sense of peace and relief. I also look forward to the joint management arrangements that follow giving them the level of recognition and involvement in the management of these areas that they deserve for many years to come, ” Mr Ross said.

The hand backs will benefit about 300 Aboriginal people from surrounding communities. The parks are being handed back as a result of settlement of long standing land claims over some national parks under the Parks and Reserves (Framework for the Future) Act. The Land Trusts will immediately sign 99 year leases with the Northern Territory Government which will allow these parks to continue as national parks with public access under joint management arrangements.

NT Chief Minister Clare Martin and Barkly MLA Elliot McAdam congratulate native title holders Francine McCarthy and Pat Brahim

In September 2007 Tennant Creek became the first town in Australia to have a native title determination made by consent rather than litigation.

Justice Mansfield of the Federal Court handed down his determination at a special sitting of the court in Tennant Creek and an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) was signed immediately after the Federal Court’s determination.

The ILUA between the Northern Territory Government and the native title holders allows for native title recognition as well as extinguishment and compensation over some areas and enables native title issues to be dealt with over the entire town. It will benefit some 200 Warumungu native title holders from the Patta estate group.

CLC Director David Ross congratulated the native title holders and the Northern Territory Government for their common sense in coming to an agreement.

“There have been no lengthy and costly court battles and a consent determination and an ILUA forged with goodwill is the best outcome anyone could expect from the native title process,” Mr Ross said.

“The ILUA recognises that past acts may have extinguished native title and allows large areas of the town to develop without any further negotiation – there are 100 residential and 60 industrial allotments which have been dealt with by agreement,” he said.   

“In return, the Patta Aboriginal people finally get Aboriginal freehold title to certain land, including Kunjarra or the Devils Pebbles which is an extremely significant site to them.

“While they already have NT freehold title, they want the area scheduled as Aboriginal land to protect it against mining activity which has caused such immense damage and distress to the custodians in the past.

“The native title holders have agreed to enter good-faith negotiations regarding the management arrangements for Kunjarra and they have guaranteed that visitors will continue to enjoy free access to the area,” he said.

“Compensation for native title holders will also give them an educational trust fund for the benefit of Aboriginal school students in the town, some residential and industrial blocks in Tennant Creek and support for the prescribed body corporate – the Patta Aboriginal Corporation –  which will act on behalf of the native title holders in the future,“ Mr Ross said.

Mr Ross paid tribute to the many claimants who passed away during the process.

“Many of them fought in the Warumungu Land Claim and went on to fight for justice within the township. They spent a good part of their lives battling so that the young people of Tennant Creek today can enjoy a better future,” Mr Ross said.

Central Land Council director David Ross today welcomed the Full Federal Court decision which upholds native title rights for the Alyawarr, Kaytetye, Warumungu and Wakay people near Tennant Creek.

“The Federal Court has substantially upheld Justice Mansfield’s original decision. Importantly, native title holders around Australia have won the right to live on and protect sacred sites on pastoral land,” said Mr Ross.

“While it is mainly a technical legal decision, it reinforces the initial victory for the native title holders who lodged their application 10 years ago to ensure their native title rights and interests were protected in the Davenport Murchison Ranges.

“The decision means strong rights in country will continue to be recognised and native title holders can continue their role in negotiating joint management of the national park.”

“The Davenport Murchison native title holders can be rightfully proud that recognition of the ceremonies and ground paintings they shared with Justice Mansfield to show strong connection to country has not been diminished. It is just a shame that 10 years have passed since the original application and a number of the key witnesses have now passed away,” said Mr Ross.

The Central Land Council lodged a native title application on behalf of native title holders in 1995 over land south-east of Tennant Creek, including the proposed Davenport Murchison National Park and the historic township of Hatches Creek.

The application was heard by Justice Mansfield “on-country” in September 2000 and his decision was handed down in 2004. The Northern Territory Government subsequently appealed on 55 separate grounds which were heard by the Full Court of the Federal Court in Darwin in November 2004.

As a result of the Full Federal Court decision, the native title holders keep rights to hunt and live on the land and continue to practice cultural and ceremonial activities.