Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement Inc. Native Title Unit


The Aboriginal Legal Rights organisation in South Australia managed both the Aboriginal Legal Services (criminal cases for clients) and the Native Title Unit across South Australia.

The Australian Government resolved that the criminal and native title functions should be separated into different organisations. The Native Title committee executives and chief executive officer of the Native Title Unit were interested in developing an economic foundation associated with any new structure formed, representing the 22 Native Title Management Committees (Congress) across South Australia.  The Congress was made up of two representatives from each Native Title Management Committee.

The Congress proposed establishing a foundation or similar entity, to attract private sector investment and resources to initiate and manage programs aimed at enhancing and providing economic and business opportunities for native title groups, inclusive of the families and clans. The initiative would represent the interests of the South Australian Aboriginal community.

This foundation would be the first of its kind – a state level body, owned and developed by Aboriginal people, independent of government control and conditions. It would also need to attract significant financial resources and investment and engage with government, industry and non-government organisations, as well as being a creative, efficient and professional business operation.

The project

Gongan Consultancy was contracted by the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement Native Title Unit to facilitate workshops, meetings and help staff research options for the new foundation structure. The first stage was to prepare the business strategy presentation for the full Congress meeting. From that meeting it was agreed that the Interim Congress Executive Committee run a series of workshops (road show) in metropolitan and regional areas in South Australia for Native Title Management Committees to discuss and support decision-making on:

  1. Incorporation of Congress
  2. Authorisation of representatives for the Congress executive
  3. Interim Congress Executive Committee agreements that have been approved by the Interim Congress Executive Committee in principle
  4. Congress foundation and business arm

It was agreed the road show would involve the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement Native Title Unit staff, Rod Williams and the two Interim Congress Executive Committee representatives from each Native Title Management Committees.

The second stage was to manage the series of workshops, which included organising and running 13 workshops as per the decision by Congress.

The workshop information was then presented to a full Congress meeting in Hahndorf, South Australia for further discussion, and for endorsement of the Incorporation of Congress and the establishment of the Foundation business arm.

The result

The outcome of this work was the formation of the South Australian Native Title Services Inc. (SANTS) and the Aboriginal Foundation of South Australia Inc.

The South Australian Native Title Services website states: “SANTS has developed the pathways to achieving social-economic structures such as the Aboriginal Congress of South Australia and the Aboriginal Foundation of South Australia. SANTS is committed to building and maintaining a range of services that build the capacities of native title groups.”


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