Government Reviews of the Woomera Prohibited Area

2018 Review of the Woomera Prohibited Area Coexistence Framework

On 11 May 2018 the Australian Government announced the appointment of Dr Gordon de Brouwer PSM to lead the 2018 Review of the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) Coexistence Framework.

The 2018 review builds on the establishment in 2014 of the existing coexistence framework that seeks to balance the interests of all users in the WPA.

On 29 March 2019, the government announced it supports the findings and recommendations of the review. These reflect the enduring critical importance of the Woomera Prohibited Area to national security, while also recognising the considerable value the area holds for Aboriginal cultural heritage, mineral resources, pastoral operations, environmental research and other scientific activity.

2016 reviews

Two reviews, a Post-Implementation Review and an Interim Rule Review, were conducted in 2016 to evaluate the effectiveness of the Woomera Prohibited Area Rule 2014. A review of the operation and future of the WPA Advisory Board was also undertaken.

Submissions to these reviews provided valuable information about the function of the current legislative and administrative arrangements and will assist with the further development of the WPA coexistence framework.

2016 review findings will be taken into consideration in the 2018 Review of the WPA Coexistence Framework.

2010 Government Review of the Woomera Prohibited Area

On 17 May 2010, the then Minister for Defence, Senator John Faulkner, announced a review to make recommendations about the best use of the WPA in the national interest.

The review was led by Dr Allan Hawke AC, a former Secretary of the Departments of Veterans’ Affairs, Transport and Regional Services, and Defence. Dr Hawke was supported by a small inter-departmental secretariat comprising representatives from the departments of Defence, the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Resources, Energy and Tourism.

The review was tasked to consult extensively to obtain the view of individuals and groups that may have an interest in the future use of the WPA including:

  • the South Australian Government
  • representatives from the resources sector and Defence industry
  • the Woomera community, the Woomera Advisory Board, pastoralists and South Australian Native Title Services
  • Commonwealth government agencies
  • defence users of the Woomera Prohibited Area from the United Kingdom and the United States.

Terms of reference

Review into Security and Economic Interests in the Woomera Prohibited Area Terms of Reference (PDF)


The review’s Interim Report (PDF) of 5 November 2010 identified the requirements of WPA user groups, assessed the extent to which these requirements were being met, and proposed mechanisms to support better coexistence. Public comment was sought on the Interim Report before recommendations were included in the Final Report.

The Review of the Woomera Prohibited Area Final Report (PDF) of 4 February 2011 made recommendations to improve the use of the WPA in Australia’s national interest by better balancing national security and economic interests. The review’s recommendations define the comprehensive range management framework and transition arrangements necessary to facilitate its introduction. A significant judgment underpinning the framework is that the South Australian Government and Defence are key stakeholders in the WPA.