Aboriginal elder rejects royalties' 'claim'

OUTSPOKEN: Adnyamathanha woman Cheryl Coulthard-Waye believes she is acting as the
OUTSPOKEN: Adnyamathanha woman Cheryl Coulthard-Waye believes she is acting as the "conscience" of her community.

Aboriginals in conflict with a native title body have denied telling miners to halt royalty payments to the Adnyamathanha.

Adnyamathanha elder Cheryl Coulthard-Waye spoke after a controversial meeting of Adnyamathanha Native Title-holders in Hawker on Saturday.

Ms Coulthard-Waye did not attend the meeting, but said she had heard of incorrect claims regarding alleged actions by the Aboriginal Reform Group of South Australia, of which she is a member

The Port Augusta woman said it had been claimed that the group was approaching mining companies to tell them to stop royalty payments.

"This is false. At no stage have we spoken to any mining companies ever, let alone approach them to stop royalty payments," she said.

"It is now time to speak the truth about these individual royalty payments. They have destroyed our people in the past 20 years. Most of the payments go to alcohol, drugs and gambling. Everyone knows this.

"We are confronted with a crisis with our young people which we see the results of every day in places such as Port Augusta and surrounding areas.

"We simply ask the question to those old enough to remember: are things better now after 20 years of royalties, native title and social welfare or were we better off and less divided then before all this arrived?" The group has challenged the Port Augusta-based Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association to provide greater transparency into its operations.

The association is under special administration by the Canberra-based Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations and is subject of a police investigation.

Ms Coulthard-Waye said the title-holders meeting had no legal status and the administrators had said this beforehand.

The organisers of the meeting could not be contacted. The association did not respond to inquiries.

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