Put Kaurna People's Land of Cultural Significance Before Private For-Profit Housing Development
Written by: Ned K. on 14 October 2023
Natasha Wanganeen speaking at 2020 Black Lives Matter rally
As people in South Australia went to vote on the Voice Referendum on Saturday 14 October 2023, the local Advertiser newspaper contained an article about the discovery of Aboriginal remains on a private for-profit $3 billion Riverlea housing development of the Walker Corporation.
The housing development is on the Adelaide to Port Wakefield Road, and part of the urban sprawl of the northern suburbs of Adelaide. The skeletal Remains of 31 people were excavated and put in a shipping container!
A community meeting of the Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation has made five recommendations to the SA Labor Government Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Kyam Maher, himself a First Nations person. One of the recommendations is that the 31 Remains be put back in the ground where they were found by workers.
This discovery of cultural significance was also raised by Kaurna People's actor Natasha Wanganeen, a Ngarrindjeri, Narungga, Kaurna and Noongar woman, on the ABC's Q & A program earlier in the same week.
Whether the remains were the result of a massacre or group burials has yet to be determined by Kaurna people who want an independent forensic archaeologist to conduct a review of the findings.
The Walker Corporation under capitalism's laws "owns" the housing development.
The Advertiser article says that the Corporation "plans to build 12,000 homes for 40,000 residents over a 15-year plan.
However on September 13, the Walker Corporation applied to the Minister to extend the application to 25 years and conduct ground disturbing works which would see more remains 'excavated and removed where necessary'!
The SA Labor Government expects its investigations into Walker Corporation's application for expansion and decisions about the discovery of the 31 remains of Aboriginal people will be made in early 2024.
Many organizations and entities, including the SA Government, start meetings with an Acknowledgement To Country of the First Nations people where a meeting is being held. The Acknowledgement includes verbal recognition of "Aboriginal Land, Always Was, Always Will Be."
Yet here there is a case of a corporate developer "owning" the new Riverlea housing development but clearly on Kaurna land of cultural significance to them.
What will the SA Government do? It has recently legislated The Voice to require it to consult with First Nations people in SA on issues that affect them. The SA Government, like all colonial governments in Australia is highly dependent on the private for-profit sector to increase available housing for people.
How the SA Government attempts to resolve this contradiction between its commitment to the Voice process legislated by SA Parliament and its dependence on corporate developers for housing construction will be watched by both First Nations people and non-Indigenous people alike.
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