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South Australian MSI Global Alliance law firm, Johnston Withers have been acting for the Adnyamathanha Aboriginal People for more than 15 years and are proud to continue to assist them in relation to their native title rights and interests over iconic South Australian tourist attractions -The Flinders Ranges and the Wilpena Resort.

The Adnyamathanha Aboriginal people have lived in and around the Flinders Ranges in the north of South Australia long before the coming of white settlement. On 30 March 2009 the Federal Court determined recognition of the Adnyamathanha native title rights and interests over the Flinders Ranges, including over Wilpena Pound and the Flinders Ranges National Park.

In October 2007, in the lead up to the recognition of native title, an Adnyamathanha elder, Ken McKenzie, gave evidence on country to Justice Mansfield who convened a special “preservation evidence” hearing.  At Wilpena Pound, Ken gave evidence of the deep significance of the Pound and the area around it to the Adnyamathanha People.  He spoke of his sadness about the impact of the coming of the white man on his traditional land.  As he said “when the gun fire came here a lot of the campfires went out.  The white people all chased the Yuras away”.  (Yuras is the Adnyamathanha word for “us people”).

The recognition of native title over this area in 2009 was very important to the Adnyamathanha People.  A further major step for the Adnyamathanha people occurred on Saturday, 17 November 2012 when there was a formal handover ceremony at Wilpena of the Wilpena Resort to ownership by Indigenous Business Australia and the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (Aboriginal Corporation) (“ATLA”) which is the corporate body established to represent the Adnyamathanha.

Johnston Withers advised ATLA on the legal aspects and documentation required for the purchase of the Resort.  Indigenous Business Australia is a body which was set up by the Federal Government to help Aboriginal people purchase and operate businesses for the benefit of particular Aboriginal communities.  The Adnyamathanha are hoping to inform visitors to the area, not only of the unique environment of the Ranges but also of the deep cultural significance of this country to the Adnyamathanha people.

The ownership of the Resort is not only an important step for the Adnyamathanha in having much greater control over their country, but will also bring about much greater employment opportunities and encourage younger Adnyamathanha to develop their skills in the hospitality industry.  In doing so, it will assist Adnyamathanha to be able to stay in the Flinders Ranges, rather than have to travel to metropolitan areas looking for work.

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