Management & Coexistence in Woomera

Coexistence in the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) is built upon the successful management of the operational needs of all Defence and non-defence users of the area. A contemporary coexistence arrangement will be based on increased engagement between Defence, South Australian Government and Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. A robust governance arrangement and commitment to implementing the 2018 WPA review recommendations will drive the management of the WPA as a national asset, with all parties protecting national security interests while maximising the value of the area.

Defence will remain the primary user of the area and national security requirements within the WPA will continue to take precedence. The WPA is the primary location for testing the military systems that will be critical to delivering Defence’s mission to defend Australia and its national interests. The enduring success of coexistence relies on the mutual responsibilities of all users in managing the safety and security of the area to maintain an environment that allows the effective conduct of Defence operations in conjunction with commercial and cultural activities.

The WPA is home to the traditional lands of the Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara (AMY), Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yunkuntjatjara (APY), Arabana, Gawler Ranges, Kokatha and Maralinga Tjarutja (MT) people. These groups are the traditional custodians and users of the WPA.

The WPA will continue to be managed as a place of national significance for Aboriginal cultural heritage, mineral resources, pastoral operations, environmental research, scientific activity and tourism. Defence and the South Australian Government will continue to determine ways to coexist as new technologies are introduced and minerals prospectivity is realised. Defence will seek to offer non-defence users greater certainty and clarity on the options for commercial operations and practices within the WPA. Further engagement with Aboriginal groups will recognise the cultural significance of the WPA and the importance of heritage preservation and economic viability. Continual engagement across the WPA stakeholder community is fundamental to understanding how coexistence can be achieved in anticipation of a changing environment now and into the future.

The Commonwealth and South Australian governments will approach their custodianship of the WPA as reliable and responsible partners, to maximise the value of the area for state and national benefit. Continuous monitoring and engagement on the changing WPA demands, influences and stakeholder needs - and assessment of their impact on coexistence - will be necessary to deliver the national interest. With a committed effort, contemporary coexistence will continue to foster and shape collaborative use of the WPA within a changing strategic, economic and technological environment.

The South Australian government and Defence signed a memorandum of understanding for the coexistence arrangements on 10 October 2019.

Read the Memorandum of Understanding (PDF, 3.57 MB)