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History and Achievements


History of Native Title Service in SA

The Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement Inc (ALRM) was the native title representative body (NTRB) for greater South Australia from July 2000 to June 2008 (and prior to that since 1994 for all of South Australia with the exception of Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara and Maralinga Tjarutja lands). Within ALRM, the Native Title Unit (NTU) was responsible for the NTRB functions. The NTU operated largely independently of the non-native title functions of ALRM, but remained under the direction of ALRM’s Board and Chief Executive Officer. The NTU had a separate Executive Officer in Parry Agius who presided over the Unit's establishment, growth and strategic directions.

This period is highlighted by the litigated case of De Rose Hill and the establishment and implementation of the South Australian Native Title Resolution (SANTR) initiative. De Rose Hill was an important test case in native title law with respect to native title rights and interests on pastoral (cattle grazing) lands. The De Rose Hill claimants were successful in winning this case on appeal, and confirmed the coexistence of their rights and interests with those of pastoral lessees. The SANTR initiative in contrast to De Rose Hill, focussed on native title negotiation. It brought together the ALRM NTU, the State Government, Native Title claimant groups (including represented by the Aboriginal Congress of South Australia), and peak industry bodies representing mining, fishing and farmers. Negotiating sector based Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) was a focus and by June 1998 there were 23 registered ILUAs in South Australia.The first native title consent determination was also made in 1996.

In July 2008, South Australian Native Title Services (SANTS) was recognised as the NTSP and took over from ALRM NTU. The establishment of a single, stand alone entity to deliver native title services had been discussed between ALRM, NTU, Congress and the Commonwealth for a number of years. In November 2006, a joint meeting was held where Congress and ALRM agreed that separation of native title services from ALRM to form a separate legal entity would best serve the interests of all stakeholders. In February 2007, ALRM advised the then Commonwealth Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) that it would relinquish its NTRB status, requesting a one year recognition period to 30 June 2008 as the NTRB for South Australia. It was agreed that native title services were to be provided by a new corporate body which could be funded under Section 203FE of the Native Title Act. FaHCSIA agreed to fund the establishment of this new body and subsequently South Australian Native Title Services Limited (SANTS) was established.

Acumen Alliance was appointed by FaHCSIA to register a new organisation which will be eligible for funding as a Native Title Service Provider (NTSP) for South Australia. Specifically under the Terms of Reference set down by FaHCSIA, Acumen Alliance was to establish a body to be funded under Subsection 203FE(1) of the Native Title Act (a Native Title Service Provider or NTSP) to perform the functions of an NTSP in the Region. The separation was completed on 1 July 2008, when the new entity SANTS commenced operations.

Since commencing operations, SANTS has maintained a focus on achieving native title outcomes through negotiation rather than litigation. While the SANTR initiative came to close around 2010, the principles and directions set through this initiative continue to be upheld. A cooperative, strategic approach to native title resolution has since been implemented by the Federal Court, South Australian Government and SANTS. Outstanding results have followed as outlined here [insert link to achievements page].


SANTS is a proud of the native title outcomes achieved in South Australia. We have assisted native title claim groups to negotiate ILUAs which provide an array of benefits and give recognition to the rights and interests of native title groups. Alongside the negotiation of ILUAs, SANTS have also worked closely with the State Government to agree on and implement a consent determination process to provide for the formal recognition of native title by the Courts. The combination of ILUAs and consent determinations has led to the following (cumulative) outcomes since 2006:

  • 2006- 2 determinations
  • 2008 – 5 determinations
  • 2010 – 8 determinations
  • 2012 – 15 determinations
  • 2014 – 23 determinations
  • 2016 – 27 determinations

At the end of 2016, there were:

  • More than 56% of the State or some 560,000 square kilometres is covered by 27 positive determinations of native title (including one compensation determination) with 25 of these consent determinations;
  • 15 Prescribed Body Corporates (PBCs) established in relation to these native title determinations;
  • 104 Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) registered dealing with a range of matters.





SANTS acknowledges that the land on which our office is based is the traditional lands for the Kaurna people and we respect their spiritual and cultural relationship with their country.
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