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Norman Waterhouse
Our nationally-recognised team is the most experienced in South Australia in respect of native title, Aboriginal heritage and mineral exploration/extraction matters for Local Government.

Our approach

Native title, Aboriginal heritage, and mining law present issues for all tiers of Government.

We are nationally recognised as a leading firm in the area of native title, with extensive experience in respect of South Australia’s Aboriginal heritage framework. Our team is also experienced in navigating the substantial recent amendments to the Aboriginal heritage regime.

We pride ourselves on the unique distinction of significant experience representing all three groups with a legal interest in native title and Aboriginal heritage: Government, the Resources and Energy Industry, and Native Title Holders. This has equipped us with an unparalleled insight into the differing interests and imperatives of all parties involved in these industries, allowing our team to achieve swift and lasting outcomes.

Additionally, we have considerable experience in South Australian mining law, particularly as it relates to Councils. We advise Councils not only in their capacity as mining operators, but also in their capacity as owners and managers of public land where other mining operators may seek to carry out exploratory or extractive operations.

Why Choose our Team?

  • Only South Australian law firm recognised by Doyle’s Guide as a national leader in native title that has a substantial focus on Local Government.
  • Only South Australian law firm with significant experience in Local Government, which has acted throughout a complete contested native title trial in the Federal Court of Australia.
  • Acted for Local Government in the historic Kaurna Federal Court native title proceedings (i.e. the Adelaide capital city native title claim).
  • Acted for Local Government in the Ngarrindjeri native title determination, and continues to act for Local Government Councils in respect of unresolved, ongoing native title claims in the Federal Court of Australia.
  • Regularly advise upon native title compliance obligations for Council public works, developments and dealings with land under the care control and management of Councils.
  • Acted in landmark litigation (including in the High Court of Australia) regarding the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (SA).
  • Negotiated and secured certification for the first agreement approved by the South Australian Treasurer under the amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (SA).
  • At the forefront of dealing with the new Recognised Aboriginal Representative Body (“RARB”) regime in South Australia.
  • A proven track record as industry leaders in negotiating agreements. This includes a number of agreements which have substantial State-wide economic significance. Our team has negotiated agreements in respect of:
    • Local Government, including public works and municipal infrastructure;
    • Energy generation, storage and transmission infrastructure;
    • Port facilities, marine infrastructure and jetties;
    • Mining proposals, including large operational mines; and
    • Pastoral projects, and natural resource management.
  • Advise Councils regarding all aspects of mining on Council land, including the interaction of the Local Government Act 1999 (SA) and the Mining Act 1971(SA) and competing interests of Councils and mine operators.


  • Advising Local government in respect of matters regarding the Local Government Act 1999 (SA) and Mining Act 1971 (SA).
  • Engagement and consultation with relevant Aboriginal authorities (including Registered Native Title Bodies Corporate, Recognised Aboriginal Representative Bodies, and other companies and associations).
  • Navigating legal compliance under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (SA).
  • Representation in the Federal Court of Australia in native title claim proceedings.
  • Conducting negotiations for Indigenous Land Use Agreements, Local Heritage Agreements and Native Title Mining Agreements.
  • Native title tenure assessment and notice procedures.
  • Compliance for mining on roads and public land under Mining Act 1971 (SA).
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