Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

Senator the Hon Don Farrell

Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water

The Hon Warren Snowdon MP

Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Science and Personnel
Minister for Indigenous Health

Uluru handback - a historic moment for all Australians

Joint media release
26 October 2010

Today Australia commemorates a defining moment in our nation's history - the handback of Uluru and Kata Tjuta title deeds to their Anangu traditional owners.

Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability, Senator Don Farrell, warmly welcomed the many Australians who flocked to Uluru today for a festival to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the historic handback.

Senator Farrell and Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon, said the handback was a defining moment for all Australians and a key milestone for Indigenous rights.

"In 1985 thousands of people witnessed Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen pass over the title deeds to Anangu at a ceremony at the base of Uluru, with traditional owners signing a national park lease just minutes later so the area could be enjoyed by all Australians," Senator Farrell said.

"The handback was testament to the vision and hard work of senior men and women from families like Uluru, Tjikadu, Okai, Fraser and Lester, many of them or their children celebrating today.

"Sadly many of the original visionaries from 1985 have passed on - but I salute them all for providing this incredible gift, not only to their children and children's children, but to all Australians."

The festival's theme of Tjukurpa munu manta kunpungku kanyintjaku - meaning Keeping culture and country strong together - gives visitors the opportunity to witness the close relationship Anangu have with their country.

Mr Snowdon said that the 1985 handback ensured Uluru's traditional owners could continue to live on and care for their country, keeping their 50,000 year old culture alive.

"The park's vibrant Aboriginal culture is inextricably linked to its spectacular scenery, with both globally recognised on the World Heritage List," he said.

"I was present at the handback in 1985, and I remember well the emotion as this iconic and important landscape was returned to its traditional owners.

"This spiritually significant landscape is able to be enjoyed by all Australians. For that, we must give our thanks to the Anangu people, the traditional owners of the land.

"By working together, Anangu and the Australian Government are protecting this stunning World Heritage Area for future generations and providing local employment opportunities through land management, cultural tours, arts and craft services and other tourism businesses."

For more information visit http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/uluru/