Barngarla Native Title Ceremony

The Premier attended the Barngarla Native Title Determination Ceremony in Whyalla, to celebrate the grant of Native Title to the Barngarla people more than 20 years after the claim was first lodged. 


I begin by paying my respects to the Barngarla Traditional Owners.

I extend my respects to their Elders, past and present.

I also acknowledge all other Traditional Owners and Elders here today.

I thank the Barngarla People for giving me the honour of participating in this very special day for you.

A day of recognition. Recognition that long before European settlement, much of the land that became known as Eyre Peninsula was occupied by Barngarla People. That is what his Honour Justice Mansfield confirmed in the Federal Court in his judgment on the Barngarla’s Native Title Claim. While we celebrate the grant of Native Title to the Barngarla, we also think today of those Barngarla People who worked with you to secure Native Title but who did not live to see the Court’s recognition of their traditional land.

Because it was a very long process. Your claim was first lodged with the National Native Title Tribunal in 1996. More than two years later it came before the Federal Court, with judgment not given for another 17 years. In the meantime, the Court took evidence on country.

At Winters Hill and Caralue Bluff.

Northside Hill.

Pildappa Rock

Turtle Rock

Hummock Hill

Lake Umeewarra

Fitzgerald Bay

Black Point

Iron Knob Cemetery

Pine Creek


Mount Laura

You took the Court to these special places. You told the Court how your traditional law and customs had been passed on from generation to generation. How, despite the challenges of European settlement, you continued to exist as a society bound together by the traditional laws and customs which existed at sovereignty.

Some challenged your claim. But you persevered. You were patient and persistent.You had to work hard to prove your Native Title.To secure the recognition you have always known to be yours. That this is your land.The determination of your claim is a great credit to all Barngarla People and those who advised and assisted you.

The Barngarla society is an ancient one.One you remain proud to belong to. And one in which, as today’s crowd shows, the leaders of tomorrow are emerging. Leaders who will seek new opportunities for the Barngarla.Barngarla People already make significant contributions to art as an expression of their cultural identity.

The first Australian Aboriginal Rhodes Scholar was a Barngarla woman. This honour was conferred on Rebecca Richards in 2010 after her anthropological studies at Adelaide University. The breadth of the Barngarla’s involvement in the economy of Eyre Peninsula is reflected in many of the other attendees today.

Representatives of:

  • Local Government
  • State Government departments and institutions
  • The Commonwealth Defence Department
  • The minerals and energy sector

More than 50,000 South Australians live within the boundaries of the Barngarla Native Title determination area.This makes it one of the most highly populated native title areas in our State. Native Title has recast the relationship between Indigenous and other Australians. It has recognised past injustices. It offers opportunity for a fairer future. For ensuring that your land works for you while you continue to care for and protect Country.

There is also much more the South Australian Government can do to help overcome Indigenous disadvantage. That is why as Premier, I have taken responsibility for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation. I’ve done that because I want to ensure an across government focus on the actions we can take together to encourage greater aboriginal economic participation and improve the delivery of key services.

I’m not one to pretend that government can solve all problems.But I do believe we can do much better in providing some achievable and measurable outcomes for our Aboriginal communities. I also recognise that Aboriginal communities want a strong relationship with the Government. They want regular engagement. They want to be able to present their views to senior people in government, including the Premier.  And have them considered, responded to and where possible, actioned.

They also want governance processes within their own communities to ensure that when they are engaging with the Government, the representation of their peoples’ views is effective. My government will work with you in a collaborative, placed-based manner. We will do that to ensure the services we deliver are those that are needed the most. Are co-ordinated. And delivered to meet local needs.

I believe this is the best way to meet your aspirations for a stronger and more productive relationship with the Government. And to ensure that your Native Title serves the Barngarla People as you intend – by delivering for you. In celebrating your Native Title, I look forward to the Government being able to work with you to ensure its promise and potential truly benefit the Barngarla People.

Thank you.

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