Legislating for Land Rights in Australia

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A commitment in applied anthropological policy work to maximising cultural appropriateness or even to supporting what indigenous people say they want is not always possible. This proved to be the case in connection with formulating recommendations for land rights legislation in Australia's Northern Territory. Until 1992 the only rights in land that Aboriginal people had as the original occupiers of the continent were statutory (that is, through acts of state and federal parliaments). No treaties were signed with Aboriginal people and until that date the continent was treated as terra nullius, unowned, at the time of colonisation in 1788. From early on in the history of European colonisation, however, areas of land had been set aside for the use and benefit of Aboriginal people. These reserves were held by the government, or by one of a number of religious bodies that ministered to Aboriginal people, usually supported by government funding. Beginning with South Australia in 1966 all of the states, except T...

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This chapter presents latest research in Australia, Europe, and other parts of the world on environmental issues related to As, particularly in water, but the viewpoints of food, health, and soil professionals are presented too. Having summarized more than 150 ecogeochemistry papers, the text is showcasing developments in this fast-moving field of research witnessing inadvertent arsenic poisoning on mass scale. In Europe, there are several regional hotspots of As contamination which warrant further detailed investigations. Most notable is the case of the Pannonian Basin (Hungary, Serbia, and Romania), where more than 600,000 residents are at risk of drinking water containing high As concentrations. Other regions threatened by waterborne As include Czech Republic, Croatia, Finland, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Turkey. While the majority of problems associated with arsenic mobilization in Asian regions are linked to natural processes, those recorded in Australia and New Zealand arise from both the natural processes and anthropogenic activities related to the mining industry, waste disposal, usage of arsenic pesticides and herbicides, atmospheric deposition, and timber treatment practices. Not only have the mining of mostly gold deposits and the associated gold extraction activities increased the release of As into the environment, but they also left a long-lasting legacy of the As-contaminated environment. In Africa, elevated As levels are found only sporadically across the continent, more as a result of the lack of research than a real absence of the problem. Although elevated arsenic concentrations have been reported in both the surface and groundwater of Africa, high As levels in surface waters generally are linked to mining operations, as well as to agricultural drains, local sediments, and disposal and incineration of municipal and industrial waste. Conversely, in groundwater, As occurrence is generally related to local geology, mineralization, geothermal water, etc. In Russia, drinking water quality is, in general, rather low due to surface contamination; lack of sanitary protection; delayed repair, cleaning, and disinfection of wells; and interruptions. The occurrences of high arsenic in soil and drinking water, although based on small number of studies, are associated with both the geogenic and anthropogenic sources. Similar situation is also found in many countries of Eastern, Central, and Western Asia where As contamination is evidenced, although only sporadically, in both drinking water and food.
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