The Arabunna People

Category: 
TV and Radio
Media Published Date: 
05/2012


MEDIA coverage of a sailing ban on South Australia's Lake Eyre has been "disrespectful" to the lake's native title claimants...

 

Lake Eyre coverage lacks respect for the Arabunna people, says lawyer

 

MEDIA coverage of a sailing ban on South Australia's Lake Eyre has been "disrespectful" to the lake's native title claimants, a lawyer for the group says.

Controversy over the ban arose after the commodore of the Lake Eyre yachting club Bob Backway called for boaters to risk fines and sail on the normally dry desert lake without a permit.

Mr Backway said the National Parks authority had halted sailing on Lake Eyre, filled by recent floodwaters, until permission was obtained from the lake's native title claimants, the Arabunna people.

The Arabunna people have refused sailing access to Lake Eyre, citing its spiritual significance.

Stephen Kenny, a lawyer for the Arabunna people who filed a native title claim on the waterway in 1998, says the controversy over the issue has been 'disrespectful'.

"Some media circles are appearing to take on a tone of disrespecting the culture of the Arabunna people," he told AAP today.

 

"It is a place of great significance to them and well documented and well known, and I am pleased the national park is recognising that in their actions."

A spokesman for National Parks said the yacht club had applied for a permit to sail on the lake and it was being assessed.

He said issues raised by the traditional owners of the land were part of the process undertaken in granting a permit.

Mr Kenny said National Parks' concerns was not related to the Arabunna's native title claim but the Aboriginal Heritage Act which calls for protection of sites of indigenous significance.

"Lake Eyre is a national park and for the yacht club to hold a regatta there they do need permission from National Parks and Wildlife...(who) know Lake Eyre is a significant site for the Arabunna people," he said.

"There is an Aboriginal Heritage Act in South Australia that allows Aboriginal people to protect their heritage, and it is an offence to do something that is det