South Australia

766. Tribal Assessor. While there are no special Aboriginal courts in South Australia provision is made in the Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act 1981 (SA) and the Maralinga Tjarutja Land Rights Act 1984 (SA) with respect to dispute resolution. Part IV of each Act provides for the appointment by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs (SA), with the approval of Anangu Pitjantjatjara or Maralinga Tjarutja, of a tribal assessor to hear appeals by any traditional owner aggrieved by a decision of the body corporate (Anangu or Maralinga Tjarutja) which holds the title to the land. Given the terms of the Acts and the functions and powers of the two bodies corporate, the role of the tribal assessor would usually be limited to disputes relating to the use of Aboriginal land. However, this need not always be the case. For example, s 36(1) of the Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act 1981 (SA) provides:

Any Pitjantjatjara who is aggrieved by a decision or action of Anangu Pitjantjatjara, or any of its members, may appeal to the tribal assessor against that decision or action.

The tribal assessor is required to hear the appeal at some suitable place upon the lands and to conduct ‘the hearing as expeditiously as possible and without undue formality’. The assessor is not bound by the rules of evidence, but is required by s 36(4) ‘to observe, and where appropriate give effect to, the customs and traditions of the Pitjantjatjara people’. Despite these provisions no one has yet been appointed to the position and, apparently, no need for an assessor has yet arisen.[1115]