Maralinga: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

On the 23rd of March 2021, the Don Dunstan Foundation proudly hosted Maralinga: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow. Accommodating a wide range of prominent guests involved in the Maralinga Tjarutja Land Rights Act 1984, this dynamic seminar brought audiences on a journey to remote South Australia in the 1950s, where and when the British government performed nuclear testing on Aboriginal lands.

Our panellists, including Traditional Owners visiting from the lands for the seminar, provided some deep insight into the past, present and future consequences of the tests, and on the ultimately successful struggle for return of the lands. The seminar provided a first-hand account of the history of the Maralinga land rights movement, and discussed opportunities to address present Aboriginal social issues with this history in mind.

Book Launch

Later in the day, the Don Dunstan Foundation was also pleased to partner with Wakefield Press on the launch of Garry Hiskey’s book, Maralinga: The Struggle for Return of the Lands. Held in the Barr Smith Reading Room, the launch was attended by over 100 people, with addresses from the author, the Hon. Vickie Chapman MP, Attorney-General and Deputy Premier, and Ms Mima Smart OAM, a Maralinga Tjarutja Traditional Owner.

Maralinga: The Struggle for Return of the Lands can be purchased here.

Seminar Recordings

We are pleased to share with you the recordings of all three sessions of the seminar, available through the links below. A description of the program and speakers is also available below. Enjoy!

Accessible here:

Username: maralinga

Password: uofalive

Seminar Program Summary

Yesterday: Indigenous land rights in South Australia before Mabo and the passage of the Maralinga Tjarutja Land Rights Act 1984

  • Mima Smart OAM, Traditional Owner
  • Garry Hiskey, Author; Maralinga: Struggle for Return of the Lands
  • The Hon. Greg Crafter AO, former Minister of the Crown and Patron of the Don Dunstan Foundation

The first part of the seminar portrays the poignant, rich and impactful history of the Maralinga region prior to the nuclear tests. Mima Smart and Garry Hiskey offer first-hand accounts of the significance of the land and its complex interrelationship with the Tjarutja people. To conclude the first session, Greg Crafter recounts the beginnings of the mounting legal battle in Adelaide.

Today: The developments in the law since the Mabo decision and the passage of   Native Title Act 1993 (Cth)

  • Khatija Thomas, former SA Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement
  • Richard Bradshaw, Legal Counsel
  • The Hon. John Mansfield AM QC, retired Federal Court Justice

The second seminar session focuses on the evolution of land rights legislation after the events in the Maralinga region, and how this process has altered attitudes towards Aboriginal rights today. Richard Bradshaw provides a detailed explanation of the legal milestones that were achieved in the Maralinga case, and John Mansfield offers his perspective on the potential for reconciliation in the near future. Khatija Thomas provides a unique and personal account of how the legal and social struggle over land rights, pushed her to pursue a legal career.

This part of the seminar also encouraged comments and questions from the audience, stimulating a dynamic conversation between panellists and attendees.

Tomorrow: The Uluru Statement from the heart; what it means, why is it needed, how it can be implemented

  • Tanya Hosch, 2021 South Australian of the Year
  • Sally Scales, Chair; APY Executive Board Council
  • Khatija Thomas, former SA Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement
  • Mima Smart OAM, Traditional Owner

The final, all-female panel spoke about the impact of changes being made and the outlook for the future of Indigenous rights, recognition and treaty. With a focus on the Uluru statement from the heart, the panel discussed the progress made to this point, and the significant changes needed to fully implement the statement.