Traditional owners speak out

June 8, 2005

ADELAIDE — On May 28, elders and traditional owners from the Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands addressed a public meeting to express their concerns about the review of the 1981 Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act.

Organised by ANTaR SA and the Uniting Church, the meeting was attended by 80 people.

Gary Lewis, the chairperson of the Pukatja community and former chairperson of the Pitjantjatjara Executive Land Council called on the state government to provide adequate funding and resources to enable the affected Aboriginal communities to seek independent and informed legal advice on the review.

Dennis Coulson from Turkey Bore said the review board had only consulted two out of the six communities. Furthermore, these consultations had been scheduled to take place on May 25-27 — while many key community leaders were en route to Adelaide for Reconciliation Week.

Coulson drew the links between the review and the attacks on the Pitjantjatjara Council last year, when the government in practice took control of the lands following an alarming number of suicides and attempted suicides.

"The government blames petrol sniffing", said Coulson, "but it's all about land — they want to control the land. Nothing has been done about petrol sniffing since they took over."

Emma Murphy

From Green Left Weekly, June 8, 2005.
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