COVID-19 delays celebrations marking 40 years since 'groundbreaking' APY Lands Act

The risk posed by the Delta variant of COVID-19 has delayed the 40th year anniversary celebrations scheduled for this weekend.

APY Lands founding

In this file photo from 1981, then SA Premier David Tonkin gathers with residents of the APY Lands Source: Supplied: APY Lands

Traditional owners in the APY lands in South Australia will have to wait until next year to celebrate the 40 anniversary of the “groundbreaking” Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights Act, which established the APY Lands.

The act, initially called the Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act, came into effect in 1981. 

Under the legislation, the SA Parliament gave Aboriginal people title to 103,000 square kilometres of land in the far northwest of South Australia. The region is home to around 2,500 people.

It was hailed as the first such agreement of its kind.

The region is governed by an elected executive board comprised of traditional owners, which reports directly to the South Australian premier.

The APY Lands is established in 1981
Source: Supplied: APY Lands

“The Anangu of the far northwest of South Australia successfully won their land back on this day  40 years ago,” APY General Manager Richard King said.

“While much has happened and life has improved across the Lands, there is still lots to be done.”

The ongoing threat of COVID-19 to the remote region has seen celebrations pushed back until 10 April next year.

The festival is set to play hosts to artists and guests across the country.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall, who last visited the APY Lands in September 2020, is set to attend the celebration next year, funded with state government support. 

“While the celebration has been deferred until early next year due to COVID-19, I look forward to visiting the APY Lands again when they can take place,” he said in a statement.  

“In the meantime, I congratulate the APY administration for its continuing work to keep the people on the lands safe from COVID.”

According to the federal health department, as of September 29, 39.01 per cent of Indigenous adults living in outback South Australia have received one vaccine dose, while 25.63 per cent are fully vaccinated.

In the wider South Australian population, 68.9 per cent have had one dose and 50.8 per cent have had two doses.

Published 2 October 2021 at 3:31pm, updated 2 October 2021 at 3:46pm
By Naveen Razik
Source: SBS News