At the January meeting of Kokatha Aboriginal Corporation Board, all Directors received a copy of a report they commissioned in 2020 into Kokatha Heritage damage claims by Mr Andrew Starkey.
These claims were made on 31 July 2020 by Kokatha men Andrew and Robert Starkey to the Juukan Gorge Senate enquiry. Their Submission was listed publicly as Submission 42 (S42). Mr Andrew Starkey advised the Board of this submission on 23rd August 2020 as part of a written request to the Board for action to be taken. At this meeting the Board unanimously agreed that KAC should urgently seek the assistance of Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation (AAR) to investigate these disturbing claims. AAR were unable to undertake an Independently investigation of the claims directly as no complaint of Kokatha heritage damage had been received by them, but they provided assistance, the details of an appropriate Independent Heritage Consultant and Central Archive information for the report. The claims related to work during the construction of a power line to service the Prominent Hill mine undertaken by Electranet in agreement with OZ Minerals, and which involved land access agreements with KAC. OZ Minerals agreed to pay for the costs of the evaluation by the independent heritage consultant as part of project assurance processes.
As a result, a report has now been provided to the Board that included:
- An Independent evaluation of the claims by Ecology Heritage Partners which outlines the results of visiting each of the alleged damage sites listed in the Starkey submission
- AAR Central Archive records for the heritage sites listed in S42, including the names of registered custodians, Traditional Owners and Informants for listed sites where the Starkey’s have claimed to be the “registered custodians [and] informants”
Following receipt of the report, the Board unanimously agreed to initially refer the report to a special meeting of the KAC Culture and Heritage Committee (CHC) for their views. That meeting will be chaired by Independent KAC Director Raelene Webb QC on 15th February. Upon receipt of the views of the CHC on the report, the Board will reconvene to consider the appropriate next steps. They will also then determine when and how these actions will be communicated to KAC members, the wider Kokatha community and our stakeholders for their information and understanding.
If you have any other queries on this matter you can get in touch with KAC Board Contacts Daniel Ramm or Elaine Moosha.