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October 22, 2021
Commerce

Aboriginal leaders slam ‘insulting’ and ‘distressing’ Park Lands consultation

Members of the City of Adelaide’s Reconciliation Committee chastised State Government representatives this week for a “distinct lack of consultation” regarding Riverbank rezoning, and cautioned development could be near or on top of burial grounds.

  • Words and pictures: Angela Skujins

Chair of Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation Jeffrey Newchurch this week told a delegation of State Government’s Planning representatives he was “concerned” about the proposed rezoning and subzoning of certain Adelaide Park Lands areas.

“I am concerned with the innovation precinct,” the Kaurna elder told the City of Adelaide special Reconciliation Committee meeting on Thursday.

“There’s a burial ground that starts through there and goes… from the Botanic Gardens right up to Stepney. Known burial grounds.”

The meeting at Town Hall was called at late notice to discuss the State Government’s push to rezone and subzone roughly 70ha of Park Lands – which is 10 per cent of the city’s total 760ha of green space – to pursue projects of “state significance”.

This includes the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the Marshall Government’s proposed 15,000-seat Riverbank Arena.

The Marshall Government’s centrepiece 15,000-seat Riverbank Arena. This picture: State Government

 

The plan is known officially as the ‘Riverbank Precinct Code Amendment’, as it involves changes to the State Government’s Planning and Design Code.

The aim is to create or expand four precincts in a section of the Park Lands that stretches from Tulya Wardli Bonython Park to Kintore Avenue. These precincts are health and biomedical, entertainment, innovation, and active waterfront.

“These proposed changes would ensure any future development, such as the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital, is well-managed, consistent and in keeping with the surrounding areas,” Attorney-General and Minister for Planning Vickie Chapman said in an earlier press release.

“The proposed changes will also help ensure our sporting, health, cultural, environmental and educational facilities are easy to access and well connected.”

Community consultation for the proposal opened on 15 September and is scheduled to end on Wednesday, 27 October.

The State Government’s engagement plan for the Riverbank Precinct Code Amendment identifies traditional owners – Kaurna specifically – as a stakeholder with “high” level of interest in the proposal.

The document says these groups would be “made aware” of the proposal and have “an opportunity to participate” and “influence the outcome”.

Newchurch recently told CityMag he was first made aware of the changes through media reports, and said there were many culturally and spiritually significant sites “at risk” if the rezoning – and subsequent development – was supported.

“The River Torrens and the surrounds are a living entity to us,” Newchurch told Town Hall on Thursday.

“That consultation around [the project] is of no benefit to us.

“Our community is stretched far and wide.

“DPC (Department of Premier and Cabinet) and Crown do not accommodate the traditional owners for that. We’re sick and tired of it, being left last”.

His concern was echoed by another committee member, Ngarrindjeri and Barkindji woman Deanne Hanchant-Nichols, who told the chamber there had been “a distinct lack of consultation” with Aboriginal communities regarding the development.

“As Uncle Jeffrey was saying, all along the river there are burial sites; there are burial sits in the land outside the [Adelaide] Gaol,” she said.

“It’s really insulting that it comes down to… ‘This is the specific amount of time you’ve got until you make your comments’. I actually find that very distressing.”

Director of Planning and Development Anita Allen told the committee she “respectfully” requested to come back and speak to the body regarding the development.

A special Adelaide City Council meeting will be held on 26 October to discuss the council’s Riverbank draft submission, which will include recommendations from the Reconciliation Committee.

A render of the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital. This picture: State Government

 

According to Adelaide City Council documents, a separate report will be presented to council from administration on that day, regarding the State Government’s request for the City of Adelaide to relinquish to it the “care and control” of Kate Cocks Park in Tulya Wardli Bonython Park.

“[It] is the proposed site of the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital transit hub,” the document says.

Community consultation for the Riverbank Precinct Code Amendment ends on 5pm Wednesday, 27 October. Submit your thoughts here.

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