Applications for authorisation and determination

Before making a determination, giving an authorisation or declaring by regulation a site or object under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988, the Premier, as the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, must take all reasonable steps to consult with:

  • the State Aboriginal Heritage Committee; and
  • any Aboriginal organisation, Traditional Owners and other Aboriginal people that, in opinion of the Minister, have an interest in the matter.

Current applications for authorisation


Applicant: Department for Environment and Water
Project: Koonalda Cave Research Proposal
Application Area: The area within Koonalda Cave referred to as the ‘Art Chamber’
Application Type: Authorisations under sections 23 and 29(1)(b) of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (SA)

Background and Heritage Information

The Premier of South Australia, who is responsible for the administration of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (SA) (Act), has received an application for authorisations under sections 23 and 29(1)(b) of the Act from the Department for Environment and Water (Applicant).

Section 23 of the Act makes it an offence to damage, disturb or interfere with Aboriginal sites, objects or ancestral remains (heritage) without authorisation. Section 29(1)(b) of the Act makes it an offence to remove an Aboriginal object from the state without authorisation.

The Applicant has sought the authorisations to enable a research proposal that seeks to better understand the Aboriginal history of Koonalda Cave. Koonalda Cave is an Aboriginal rock art and archaeological site some 400 km west of Ceduna.

To achieve its research aims, the Applicant proposes to remove fifty (50) charcoal samples from the area within Koonalda Cave known as the Art Chamber; transport those samples out of South Australia; to conduct destructive radiocarbon analysis on those samples in order to ascertain their age; and to undertake non-invasive laser mapping within the Art Chamber (Research Proposal).

Koonalda Cave is a determined Aboriginal heritage site entered on the Register of Aboriginal Sites and Objects, which is maintained by Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation (AAR) under the Act on behalf of the Premier. The site is also entered on the South Australian Heritage Register and the National Heritage List.

The Applicant advises that access into the Koonalda Cave Art Chamber will be achieved via pre-existing infrastructure and tracks.

Consultation Information Pack

For detailed information about this application, please download a copy of the consultation information pack.

Consultation Information Pack (PDF, 2.6 MB)

The document can also be accessed from YourSAy. You may also call AAR on (08) 8226 8900 to request a physical copy.

Consultation and submissions

Prior to considering whether to grant any authorisation under the Act, section 13 requires the Premier to consult with Traditional Owners, the State Aboriginal Heritage Committee, and such other Aboriginal people or bodies as he thinks may have an interest in the matter.

Accordingly, verbal and written submissions are now invited from such parties about the Research Proposal.

In consideration of social distancing measures, no public meeting will be held for this consultation. AAR will instead endeavour to directly contact Aboriginal parties with a known or asserted interest in the site prior to the end of consultation.

If you are not contacted directly, and wish to learn more and/or lodge a submission, please either call AAR on (08) 8226 8900, email or write to:

Mr Alex van Wessem
Principal Project Officer (Heritage)
GPO Box 2343

When making a submission, consultees should consider, and provide feedback on, the following key questions:

  1. Should the authorisations sought be granted to the Applicant? Why or why not?
  2. If the authorisations are granted, what conditions, if any, should be imposed on them?
  3. Are there any other matters that the Premier should be aware of when considering the application?

If you are an Aboriginal person with an interest in Koonalda Cave, you are strongly encouraged to make a submission about the proposal before the closing date.

Consultation closes Monday 12 October 2020

For information about previous applications, please call Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation on (08) 8226 8900.