Retirement spells the end of an era for the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association

RETIRMENT: Adnyamathanha Elder Vince Coulthard is retiring from his position as CEO of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA). Photo: Dave Laslett.
RETIRMENT: Adnyamathanha Elder Vince Coulthard is retiring from his position as CEO of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA). Photo: Dave Laslett.

It's the end of an era for the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA) as dedicated leader Vince Coulthard steps away from his principal role within the organisation.

Following 20 years of hard work and continuing strides for the Andyamathanha people, Mr Coulthard has decided to retire as ATLA Chief Executive Officer.

Mr Coulthard was instrumental in setting up ATLA and has played a leading role since day one.

He began going to meetings with his grandfather at just 17-year-old, just so he could take notes.

"I'm proud of what ATLA has been able to achieve under my leadership over the past 20 or so years and I wish the new leadership all the best for the future and trust they will continue with work started by the old people all those years ago." Mr Coulthard said

During his time with the organisation, ATLA has made huge advances for the Andyamathanha people.

2014: Vince Coulthard was awarded the South Australian Local Hero Award in the Australian of the Year Awards by former Premier of Jay Weatherill.

2014: Vince Coulthard was awarded the South Australian Local Hero Award in the Australian of the Year Awards by former Premier of Jay Weatherill.

In 2009, they were awarded Native Title Rights and recognised as the traditional land owners of over 42,000 sq/km of land in and around the Flinders Ranges.

They have joint management of two National Parks in Adnyamathanha country and they have their own flag for the Adnyamathanha Nation.

In 2012 ATLA purchased the Wilpena Pound Resort in partnership with Indigenous Business Australia and have been able to increase Aboriginal employment to 78 per cent.

"ATLA is in a strong economic position now with the ownership of Wilpena and this will continue to strengthen our culture and also employment for our people for generations to come," Mr Coulthard said.

"We have already employed over 130 Adnyamathanha people at Wilpena and I know this will continue to grow."

In 2017 the Andyamathanha voice garnered even more traction for decision-making when ATLA signed the Aboriginal Regional Authority Recognition Agreement.

Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Kyam Maher began working with Mr Coulthard in 2002 and praised his long career at ATLA.

Vince Coulthard and Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Kyam Maher at Wilpena Pound. Photo: Gayle Mathers.

Vince Coulthard and Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Kyam Maher at Wilpena Pound. Photo: Gayle Mathers.

"I have known Vince for close to 20 years and in that time have come to know Vince and respect him for his community leadership," Mr Maher said.

"Vince and I haven't always seen eye-to-eye and we have had differences, but one thing that I can be sure of is that Vince has always put the best case forward and strongly advocated for his people."

Mr Coulthard's leadership has been recognised with many awards, including the National NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award, the South Australian Local Hero Award in the Australian of the Year Awards and the Slim Dusty Award for Mateship to name a few.

He was even a finalist in the 2010 Human Rights Awards; pipped to the post by Therese Rein, the wife of Australia's former prime minister Kevin Rudd.

"ATLA has been at the forefront of self determination and Indigenous rights, and there have been many contributors to that. Certainly Vince has been one of the strongest voices," Mr Maher said.

"From the establishment of Aboriginal Regional Authorities in South Australia, to treaty negotiations - ATLA has always been one of the groups at the very forefront and that's in no small part to Vince's leadership."

Mr Coulthard will continue as CEO of Umeewarra Media part time and intends to develop a training and tourism business.

His focus moving forward will be centred around family and spending more time with his grandchildren.