ANTaR SA, Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (South Australia) Inc, is a coalition of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community people and community organisations.
ANTaR formed in 1997 as a response to the Federal Howard Government’s 10 point plan to cut the native title rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The ANTaR coalition worked to raise understanding about native title rights, and about ‘reconciliation’ more broadly. ANTaR became a leader in the peoples’ movement for reconciliation.
Initially we focused on supporting the native title rights of Aboriginal Australians. We continued through the 1998 native title amendments, which made it even more difficult for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to prove their native title rights. It was already very difficult.
ANTaR has continued to support genuine land rights for Aboriginal Australians, and more generally, we have continued to support efforts towards respect and recognition of all the legitimate rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
We supported the campaign in the early 2000s for a process to consider a treaty, or treaties; a genuine process of negotiation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians about a more just and fair recognition of the First Australians.
ANTaR SA has supported Aboriginal South Australians voice their concerns about their human rights, including at a series of events through the 2000s commemorating International Human Rights Day.
We support moves toward a genuine reconciliation, meaning social justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Under the ‘practical reconciliation’ policies and rhetoric of the Howard Government, the situation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians deteriorated, rather than improve as it should in such a wealthy country as Australia. It could have if Government had followed the lead of the High Court in their Mabo judgement of June 1992, and set about resolving by negotiation and agreement the issues still outstanding from the colonisation of these lands by the British, 221 years ago.
It is of much interest that the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, Justice French, believes that Australia can have treaties with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, contra the rhetoric of the previous PM, John Howard.
In South Australia’s case, official colonisation in terms of founding the colony, can be seen as having commenced with the Letters Patent of February 1836 (173 years ago, as at mid 2009).
These Letters Patent defined the boundaries of the Province of South Australia, and most significantly included this provision:
… Provided Always that nothing in those our Letters Patent contained shall affect or be construed to affect the rights of any Aboriginal Natives of the said Province to the actual occupation or enjoyment in their own Persons or in the Persons of their Descendants of any Lands therein now actually occupied or enjoyed by such Natives …
South Australian Aboriginal people who know about this document believe the intentions of this foundation document need to be honoured. Some have been raising this document with Government for many years.
Through our work with South Australian Aboriginal people around supporting their demands for recognition of their human rights as the First Australians, ANTaR SA has supported the creation of an Aboriginal Alliance Coalition Movement (AACM) in South Australia. The central focus of the AACM is the Letters Patent. (View a copy of this document and related material.)
ANTaR SA is part of the national people’s movement for genuine reconciliation and recognition of Indigenous Australians’ rights. ANTaR’s work has been the result of the efforts and donations of thousands of Australians, and a broad coalition of non-Government community organisations at national and state levels.