NRM Funding Success

State Natural and Resource Management Partnership with Madjulla Inc. V & C Semeniuk Research Group and Walalakoo Native Title Body Corporate

Dr Anne Poelina Managing Director of Madjulla Inc in partnership with V & C Semeniuk Research Group were successful in acquiring the State NRM Funding to support the collaboration with the Nyikina Mangala Walalakoo (Native Title) Body Corporate (WBC) proposal to develop a Natural and Cultural Heritage Precinct for Education and Tourism. 

The Kimberley region, listed on the National Heritage List, is located within the Rangelands NRM as a priority region and high value asset. The area is one of the last great wilderness areas of the World. The Nyikina Mangala Native title area covers more than 26,000 sq. km, extending from the mouth of the King Sound below Derby, along the Fitzroy Valley to Noonkanbah and south into the Great Sandy Desert. However, it has been identified that there is a gap in environmental information in this region. Therefore, to evaluate the opportunities and constraints of developing the Natural Heritage and Cultural Heritage Precinct, and obtain information on where to locate trails and infrastructure, as well as maintaining the values of the region by managingmajor environmental threats such as fire, weeds, surface run off and feral animals, there is an urgent need to undertake environmental baseline studies, incorporating Western Science and Indigenous knowledge.

This grant is an important first step in developing a baseline study to describe the cultural, archaeological, and natural values of the Fitzroy River Valley Native Title area. This approach will lead to both science-based planning and management and the capacity to maintain the high values of the site both for their inherent and cultural values and to the development of sustainable Indigenous enterprise opportunities. 

Community members will be targeted for a pathway in land and water management and biodiversity restoration and conservation to manage the inherent Natural and Cultural Heritage Precinct located on this globally unique river country.

Nyikina Cultural App

The Nyikina Cultural App project is on target and we are hoping to have an operational app within a few weeks that anyone can access via the Apple App Store and also for Android users too. This is a just a quick update to assure you we are hard at work in the background on this important community resource.


Kakadu Man


I feel it is a story for our beautiful boab tree families.  Some of the special ones have vibrational energy of healing… this picture the boab nuts are heart shaped!

A beautiful poem by an amazing elder

Bill Neidjie (1989)

Kakadu Man

I love it tree because e love me too.

E watching me same as you

Tree e working with your body, my body,

E working with us.

While you sleep e working.

Daylight, when you walking around e work too.

That tree, grass…..that all like our Father.

Dirt, earth, I sleep with this earth.

Grass…..just like your Brother.

In my blood in my arm this grass.

This dirt for us because we’ll be dead,

Well be going this earth.


This the story now.




22nd October 2016, Banco Court, Brisbane

AELA is hosting a one-day Rights of Nature Tribunal in Brisbane on 22nd October 2016.  This citizen’s tribunal will hear cases presented by citizens and Earth lawyers concerned about the destruction of ecosystems and the Earth community in Australia.  Australia’s RON Tribunal is a ‘regional chamber’ of the International Rights of Nature Tribunal.  Information about the International Tribunal can be found on this website: 

As a ‘citizen’s tribunal’ the RON Tribunal is not a government endorsed activity nor do any of its activities, decisions or recommendations have the force of government-sanctioned law.  The Tribunal’s aims are as follows: to provide an important forum for citizens of Australia to speak on behalf of the Earth community; to challenge the current legal system’s failure to protect the health of the natural world; to highlight the role that government agencies and corporations play a part in destroying the Earth community and to recommend what citizens would like to see happen, to protect and restore Australia’s precious ecosystems and wider Earth community.

The Tribunal will be conducted seriously and with great respect to the venue (Banco Court) and all participants and cases.  The Tribunal will be run according to rules developed for such Tribunals by the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature.  A panel of judges will hear the cases and make recommendations. Citizens, scientific experts and legal experts from around Australia will be invited to participate.

At this stage, AELA is planning that the Tribunal will hear depositions from citizens and Earth lawyers, to admit their cases to the Tribunal for further deliberation during late 2016 and early 2017.  The cases that AELA’s RON Tribunal expects to hear are as follows:

  • Mardoowarra/Fitzroy River (Western Australia) vs the Federal and WA Governments. 
    This case will be presented by traditional custodians of the Mardoowarra/Fitzroy River and will include claims that the River must have its legal rights recognised, in accordance with the traditional custodians’ ‘first laws’ and the rights of nature - Dr. Anne Poelina
  • The Atmospheric Commons vs Australia Government and the Fossil Fuel Industry. 
    This case will challenge Australia’s inaction on climate change and will feature some of Australia’s leading climate scientists and civil society climate advocates.
  • The Forests of Australia vs Federal and State Governments. 
    This case will be presented by forest protectors from Tasmania, East Gippsland, Queensland, Western Australia and Northern NSW, challenging the legality of native logging across the continent.
  • The Great Artesian Basin vs Federal & State Governments and Coal Seam Gas Industry. This case will hear evidence from scientists, community members and civil society organisations such as Lock the Gate, about the contamination and depletion of Australia’s precious groundwater.
  • Earth Defenders vs the Tasmanian, NSW and WA Governments.
    This case will challenge the treatment of environmental protectors and Earth advocates, under new legislation aimed at suppressing peaceful protest activity in various Australian jurisdictions.
  • Watching brief: The Great Barrier Reef vs Australian and Queensland Governments.
    The Tribunal will receive an update on the status of the Great Barrier Reef, which was the first case that Australia took to the International Rights of Nature Tribunal. Concerns for the Reef have heightened in light of the 3rd April announcement by the Queensland Government that it has approved the mining leases for the Adani Carmichael Mine.

To support the Tribunal and promote cultural engagement with the emerging movement around the Rights of Nature, AELA has also created a major Earth Arts program for 2016, simply called ‘RONA16’.  AELA’s intention is to blend the creative re-interpretation of environmental governance with cultural responses to the rights of the natural world to flourish. More information about RONA16 can be found on this website: 

2016 May Update


Language and Culture Work

Madjulla has recently completed a comprehensive list of Nyikina Language materials.  This material will be published online and available through our website to inform the public and increase access to materials held in different repositories.   


Nyikina Cultural App ­ - Synopsis

In consultation with key Nyikina Community representatives the Nyikina Cultural App will enable:

  • Control of the design and development of culturally appropriate digital resources;
  • Mobile access on Android and Apple OS devices to digital material in multiple formats;
  • Updates to existing data in planned research, design and development increments;
  • Flexibility with service level agreements to include additional development teams.

The mobile app is a vital resource for the Nyikina Community as there are many cases of where online access to culturally appropriate material is inaccessible due to the variations of GSM coverage or online access to the internet. It is envisaged that this app will be accessible offline and that upgrades to content will occur when the device has been synced with the hosted mobile application data repository service.


Nyikina Cultural Database ­- Synopsis

In consultation with key Nyikina Community representatives the Nyikina Cultural Database will provide Madjulla Inc and the wider Nyikina Community with a secure hosted data repository for culturally sensitive digital materials.

Madjulla Inc has identified that there is an array of digital archives and current cultural material that is accessed on a daily level from a variety of local sources including short films, audio recordings, reports, documents and photos in a variety of formats.A cultural database would extend the capabilities and access for other to material which is currently distributed via a range of methods.

The service features secure, dedicated https:// access with advanced system administration and user permissions control, server set­up (full brand, layout, metadata ingest and collection creations) as well as nightly server snapshots (full backups, restore, retrieve to item level) and has fully minted DOI’s ­ full distribution of data by open access control using the DSpace data repository software.

The NCD will enable anyone who has been registered on the system to gain access to, contribute, update, download and share content according to the permissions they have been assigned by item, collection or community level within the system.


Touring Again, Globally!

We are currently in the developmental phase working with Gwen Knox of Big Mama Production following our successful tour of France in 2015. The performance was enjoyed by everyone who attended and we have been invited back to perform a new and extended version of the show for the 2017 festival. There is the option to take it to the festival of Perth in 2018 and tour it though out Europe. This is a huge commendation to Kimberley artists and in particular Kimberley Indigenous performers. The new performance will compare two stories about how landforms were made along two rivers; the Mardoowarra (Fitzroy) in Western Australia and the Meuse in France. It will include a variety of puppets, dance and acrobatics performed to original music written by Gwen Knox and Mark Coles Smith.



Madjulla staff continue to building innovative research partnerships nationally and internationally.  

A partnership with the Faculty of Social, Human and Mathematical Sciences University of Southampton in the United Kingdom has been funded to bring researchers to the Kimberley for a “Talking Circle” to plan and develop a Strategic Interdisciplinary Research Project to Explore Carbon and Climate change and adaption combing the complimentary knowledge systems with traditional ecological knowledge for world’s better practice.  The Talking Circle is planned for early 2017.

Dr Anne Poelina is the Team Leader for a Kimberley Case Study developed through the Fonds Pacific (French Australian and Pacific Island Nations) Partnership. The project is delivered through the Australian National University in Canberra. The project champions the need to increase international attention focused on developing effective ways to improve integrated approaches to land and water management. The focus aims to identify key issues and opportunities via a scoping project based on number of case studies in the Pacific.

As part of this project Dr Poelina will be traveling to Fiji at the end of June to share her learnings from the Kimberley, with team members working across Pacific Island Nations.


Water Resources of The Mardoowarra

A report has been published by Associate Professor Ryan Vogwill, University of Western Australia which can now be downloaded as a PDF.

Download the report - PDF [ 1.4 MBs ]

Nyikina Cultural Centre

Through his (story) the mapping, division and forcible alienation of Aboriginal people from their country and land has meant that many aspects of knowledge has been lost to the repeat and insidious intention of such action.

The concept of the Nyikina Cultural Centre is as all cultural centres are for Aboriginal communities and their relatedness with travellers, associated services and as a service to protect country and culture. Specifically, our daily activity and the information we generate as users of the internet can assist in the establishment, funding, development and growth of the Nyikina Cultural Centre beginning as simply as 'place based' naming.

Note: This is a concept and serves the purpose of building awareness as to how important it is that we strategically point to country when growing our connections with others. The principals of geo-tagging information is the main driver of this post.

This is how you can assist in bringing this concept to a physical reality:

  • Social Media - geotag all posts that relate in any way to Aboriginal news or community activity to the Nyikina Cultural Centre, cnr Derby Highway and Derby Gibb River Road, Derby 6728 Western Australia  -17.344403, 123.665855 ....there maybe many more "hubs" and associated centres that the community is in control of.
  • Connect - Join the Nyikina Cultural Centre group on Facebook and tell us what you know about that location and it's significance for you and your community - what other ideas do you have to grow awareness of what is needed on country?:
  • Maps - build maps personally that use the internet to point to that geolocation  at the Nyikina Cultural Centre, cnr Derby Highway and Derby Gibb River Road, Derby 6728 Western Australia  -17.344403, 123.665855 and 'pin' digital artefacts such as photos to that location
  • Attribution - in papers, documents, books, email correspondence and in all other activities that are transmitted via the digital domain and Internet, consider how you can include the following in that transcript.

Nyikina Cultural Centre, cnr Derby Highway and Derby Gibb River Road, Derby 6728 Western Australia  -17.344403, 123.665855

Over time all of this activity generates an interest in a location that will soon be known as the main reference point for the Nyikina Cultural Centre as endorsed by the Nyikina community in derby and supported in kind and activity by members of Madjulla Inc.

Geolocation specific activity builds awareness and knowledge where largely information posted to the internet benefits the organisations who monitor our personal and collective activity only. This initiative however proactively creates interest via self generated activity that then brings about positive change and awareness - actionist principles at work!

1983 Seaman Aboriginal Land Rights Inquiry

In 1983 Lucy Marshall OAM resident of Pandanus Park near Broome in Western Australia participated in the Seaman Aboriginal Land Rights Inquiry. 

A letter was sent to Mr. Paul Seaman Qc. who was conducting an inquiry at the time into the conditions and challenges faced by Aboriginal people. A second letter was sent on the 24th August 1983 to clarify points made in the original letter regarding the Pandanus Park community.

The first letter is now available here - Seaman Inquiry Lucy Marshall Letter 1 [ PDF 7.3 MB ]


"...Loongkoonan only took up painting in her mid-90s, embracing it with such originality, confidence and dedication her work soon found its way into museums and private collections."

She only took up the paint brush in her-mid 90s.

And now, at what she calls the “still very lively” age of 105, Aboriginal Australian artist Loongkoonan is being honored with the first international exhibition of her work, minutes from the White House.

The woman who inspired the show Yimardoowarra: Artist of the River is an indigenous elder and matriarch from the west Kimberley region in Western Australia — Nyikina country or the country of the river, named the Fitzroy by European colonizers.

Read more - New York Times


Text from the above poster:

"...Executive producers Madjulla Inc. and Big Mama Productions Present - The Ngalyak and the Flood - A Franco-Australian Creation - With the participation of the Bronnert and St Julian Schools (France), and Kimberley schools (Australia)."

France – Australia: Coming Together

From the Mardoowarra to the Meuse…

In 2014 we started to work on a joint project between the towns of Broome in Western Australia, and Charleville-Mézières in France, to foster a relationship between the two towns.

Dr. Anne Poelina and Ian Perdrisat had met with Gilbert-Philippe Vaillant (writer and story-teller), Philippe–Kimberley Vaillant (townplanner-geographer), Jean-Pierre Lemant and David Nicolas (archaeologists) on their first trip to Charleville-Mézières in 2014.

The objective of this meeting was to explore the similarities between two stories set around two rivers. One river in France - the Meuse River, which runs through Charleville-Mézières, and the Fitzroy River, or Mardoowarra for Nyikina people, in Australia, which runs near the remote Nyikina and Walmajarri Aboriginal community of Looma in the West Kimberley region of Western Australia. The Looma community was named after “Looma”, in Nyikina language, which is the name of the blue-tongue lizard featured in the story.  

The creation story from Australia is from the Nyikina Aboriginal people. It relates the story of the Ngalyak mother (blue-tongue lizard), who dies while trying to save her children from the flood. They wait for her to return and become part of the landscape. The other story from France/Belgium is of the Bayard horse, who saved four young men, and who also became part of the landscape.

The friendship between the countries was sealed at this meeting by the sharing of water from each river.

Gwendolyn (Gwen) Knox, of Big Mama Productions, was approached by Dr. Anne Poelina (from the Nyikina Community) and Phillipe Vaillant from Charleville-Mézières, to put together a puppet performance telling the story of the Ngaliak mother and her children.

This was done in preparation for the Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes in 2015 to foster the developing friendship between Charleville-Mézières and the West Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Our participation in the 2015 festival is all the more poignant as 2014 marked the beginning of the 100-year commemoration of the First World War, and in particular Australia’s involvement on the “Western Front” in the Ardennes from 4th August 1914.


The Green tree frogs call in the rain. They perform acrobatics talking about unions and families. This worries the green ants a lot, who start to run around to prepare for the impending flood. The Brolgas hear the frogs and start their courtship dance. The flying foxes who are hanging in their trees complain about the noise and each other. The mother blue tongue lizard wakes up and gives birth to her babies, and takes them on a journey to escape the impending flood. She struggles to find a high hill to put her babies to safety.

The flying foxes take flight at sunset and confuse her. The frogs are very happy that the flood is coming and splash about in the rising water filled with diatoms. The mother manages to place her babies on a high hill but she is washed away to become a sand dune. The babies wait and wait for their mother to return. They wait so long that they turn into stone.

The frogs, ants, Brolgas and diatoms continue their annual cycle of courtship and flooding as long as it doesn’t get interrupted by major climatic changes and environmental degradation.

For more details about this important production please direct all correspondence and inquiries to Dr. Anne Poelina and Ian Perdrisat at:


Madjulla Inc
PO Box 2747
Broome WA 6725


+61 (0)408 922 155


Photos From The Trip

Post Event - Gallery 1

Post Event - Gallery 2

Post Event - Gallery 3

Defence Of Country

Defence of Country: Aboriginal people dealing with the impacts of globalisation in Australia. 'Success Stories' Session with Dr Anne Poelina, Nyikina Mangala, WA

Women Of High Degree

The film 'Women Of High Degree'  was screened on NITV, Australia Tuesday, 6th October at 7:30PM AEST.

This film retraces the stories of three Nyikina Sisters, Lucy Marshall, Jeanie Wabi and Anne Poelina. This is a compelling account of their story now available - pre-view trailer below.


Short Synopsis

Three Sisters, Women of High Degree is the result of 7 years of collaboration and filmed conversations between three Yimardoowarra Marninil, Nyikina women from the Fitzroy River, Lucy Marshall, Jeannie Wabi, and Anne Poelina, and French-Australian filmmaker Magali McDuffie. For over 30 years, Lucy, Wabi and Anne have been implementing cultural actions to create sustainable economies in their communities for future generations, and to protect their kandri, language and culture. Inscribing the women within their cultural landscape through their river stories, and spanning over 80 years and three generations, this film also retraces the recent history of the Kimberley through the sisters’ lived experiences of slavery on pastoral stations, and reveals the women’s agency in response to various government policies. Highlighting the use of film as a tool of empowerment, Three Sisters looks at the contemporary engagement of the women politically, at a local, national, and international level, in an increasingly neo-liberal context, with, in the background, the ever-increasing threat of massive industrialisation of the Kimberley region by multi-national mining corporations – the new colonisers.


Full Synopsis 

Settled more than a hundred years after Sydney because of its isolation, it was only in the 1880s that the Kimberley region of Western Australia witnessed the arrival of settlers in search of land for their cattle or their sheep.  Where once waterholes had sustained numerous Aboriginal family groups, fences went up, Aboriginal people were enslaved to work on the stations, or brought into the towns of Derby and Broome. The ones who dared to protest were imprisoned. Worse, massacres were committed, which are still in Nyikina Elders’ living memory. Mick Michael Wiljaniny, a Senior Walmajarri Elder, tells us the story of his imprisonment in the film, quietly, calmly, without a trace of bitterness in his voice...

 The missionaries also came, evangelising Aboriginal people, putting them in missions to "protect" them, from which many did not come out... Diseases, such as leprosy, also ravaged Aboriginal nations…

Lucy and Wabi are part of the generation of people who grew up on pastoral stations, and who was subjected to forced labour in exchange for tea, blankets, and sugar… Despite the violence, privations, and the absolute control pastoralists had on their Aboriginal workers, they were still living on their land and continued to practice their traditions, ceremonies, and to speak their language ... In the 1960s, Australia witnessed a change – at the same time as the Civil Rights movement takes shape in the United States, the movement for equality of Aboriginal workers is organized. They become citizens of Australia, acquiring equal pay rights. But Kimberley Aboriginal people will not directly benefit from this new-found “equality”. Unable to pay their Aboriginal workers the normal wages of white men, the pastoralists send them away. They gather near cities, hoping to get work, or any other support. This exodus from their ancestral lands will of course have the disastrous consequences we know today: homelessness, violence, alcoholism, psychological trauma...

But even then, again, the culture survives. Anne Poelina, a generation later, is Nyikina, born not on her country, but in Broome, where many Aboriginal people gathered after they left the stations. Born of the union of a Nyikina mother, and a Timorese father, she represents this new multicultural generation, aware of its roots, but also very much part of the wider world. Anne grows up in Broome, but, spending time in the bush, on Nyikina country, she learns the stories of the Elders, her language, and refuses to submit to the ideology of the time, constantly being told that Aboriginal people are "good for nothing". She studies nursing and then, encouraged by her success, goes on to gain three Masters Degrees, and more recently, a PhD.

Films have been the chosen medium of Nyikina people for over twenty years. Originally, to document their traditions and culture, and later, to access funding of international philanthropic organisations, but most importantly, educationally, to share their culture, explain their initiatives on the ground, and to encourage dialogue between the Elders and the Youth. "These films are a way for us to exist, to assert our identity, to tell the world who we are, that we are here, and that this is what we do," said Anne often.

Magali McDuffie has been working with Aboriginal communities for the last 10 years, first on the East Coast, then, following a series of meetings and coincidences, and an invitation by Nyikina women, in the Kimberley. "When I arrived in Broome 7 years ago, in summer, in the tropical heat, I thought I would be staying only for two weeks to make a film with the community, and then leave for new horizons ... It has now been 8 years, I go back and live there often, and it changed my life. " 8 years ago, there was a positive atmosphere in the Kimberley - many projects implemented by Nyikina Inc. and Madjulla Inc., at the initiative of Lucy and Anne, had been very successful. Nyikina language programs, in particular, were very popular - Wabi, as the Nyikina LanguageRepresentative in KALAAC, has worked closely with a linguist, Colleen Hattersley, for many years to produce an interactive dictionary of the Nyikina language and a Nyikina Language Software Package, in collaboration with an Australian university. With Anne, they also published books of Nyikina stories. Fighting poverty through art, culture, language, and economic initiatives for sustainable development in the communities – a culture and conservation economy: these were the objectives of the three sisters, as successive government policies of assimilation, integration and self-management had only made the situation worse.

Unfortunately, a threat was looming over the Kimberley. The region was rich in precious metals, coal, gas and other raw materials. Suddenly there was talk of coal mines along the Mardoowarra, Fitzroy River, shale gas exploration, and of the establishment of one of the largest gas-processing plant north of Broome, at Walmadan – James Price Point. The three sisters, who had up until then been involved in their respective communities at a local level only, immediately saw the need to share their struggle to protect their culture and their country, on which, even with recently-acquired Native Title Rights, they still have no rights, in 2015: the community can negotiate with the mining companies, but certainly does not have a right of veto. 

The films of the three sisters, therefore, took on a more political, activist dimension - seeking allies internationally, two of our films were screened at the UNESCO Human Rights Commission in 2012. Anne also signed the Redstone Statement in the United States in 2010, where she met Dr Jonathan Hook, a Cherokee environmental philosopher, who is interviewed in our film, during his visit in Kimberley in 2010.

These films do not only bear witness to the strength of Nyikina Culture – they also reveal an unequal fight between diametrically opposed views of development, those of the Western world against those of Indigenous world. In the final analysis, they also tackle a much wider picture of the world, as mentioned by Anne in the film: "we are all being colonized: it is not a black or white question any longer." Anne has become, in recent years, an activist, or actionist, as she prefers to call it, recognized not only in Australia, but throughout the world, and participated in many other film projects, for instance in Eugenie Dumont’s film, Heritage Fight, and another documentary by Thalassa (French Television) about the industrialisation of the Kimberley region.  

 This film, Three Sisters, Women of High Degree, retraces the fascinating journey of the three sisters, and through them, the recent history of Kimberley and the impacts of excessive industrialisation. It is their message to the world: "We are still here. We know who we are, we know our culture, we can run the country. We must stand together, shoulder to shoulder" (Lucy Marshall).

A New Home

Madjulla Inc. now has a new home!

In early August, 2015 Alexander Hayes approached Dr. Anne Poelina and Ian Perdrisat offering to build a dynamic web presence. This contribution is to ensure the important work and achievements of the Nyikina community are made accessible via the world wide web.

This website will now enable Madjulla Inc to facilitate crowd funding via internet connections, engage people from all over the world in understanding everything with this organisation including news, media releases, resources and daily activities.

New logos, banners and web compliant mobile enabled features will soon be released via this location. It will be a live build and open for all to see the development of this important online resource.

There will also be an online store to sell products and merchandise through, a projects page, high resolution photos galleries, video resources and a podcast page for visitors. To learn more about these initiatives please contact Anne Poelina or Ian Peridsat for more details.

Old Madjulla Inc. website - screenshot

Native Title An Act Too Hard to Follow


Written by Anne Poelina

First published in the National Indigenous Times (NIT) - December 7, 2011 - Opinion, page 27

My social, cultural, political journey has revealed flaws in Native Title law which leave Aboriginal people and the environment vulnerable to genocide and ecocide.

I have learnt that the colonial ethos is entrenched in the laws, policies and practices of governments, corporations and Indigenous representative bodies which impose development over Traditional Owners who do not have free, prior or informed consent.

My recent experience on country demonstrated how the rights of senior law and cultural bosses were ignored, reducing their right to participate in Native Title decision making. I saw first hand how the votes were rigged against Aboriginal people with rights and interest in their own lands becoming quickly, disenfranchised. Federal law and the deficit public policy approach to Indigenous development are aimed at reducing the human rights of Aboriginal Australians.

The national and international evidence regarding the construction and maintenance of Indigenous disadvantage by Australian state and territory governments is overwhelming. The Australian Government has the powers to make laws to promote Indigenous interests and reduce Indigenous disadvantage. It has failed its constitutional duty.

The Kimberley is unique; worthy of responsible management. Despite partial National Heritage Listing a couple of months ago there are serious questions hanging over development in the Kimberley. The science is in, the resource extraction, processing and transport planned for the Kimberley would have significant negative impacts on the environment, the people, plants and animals if it were allowed to proceed.

Recently at the National Press Club Alan Jones illuminated the collective concern people right around Australia share in regards to the damage resource extraction, processing and transport, particularly coal seam gas is having on established and potential industries. Mr Jones makes the argument for farmers to have the right to ‘lock the gate’ which is effectively the same as Aboriginal peoples call for the right to ‘veto’ mining on their land. There is a common need to protect our water, food and job security into the future.

The opportunity to coexist and co-manage with pastoralist, graziers and agriculturalist has not been seriously considered. There are far more Indigenous jobs in the culture and conservation green collar industries such as wild harvest bush foods and medicine, land care, rangers and tourism these enterprises require serious investment as they are more sustainable and produce greater national ecosystem services, social and cultural benefits than mining.

The current worldwide financial crisis demonstrates the rampant pursuit of growth and globalisation has greatly improved the lives of a few wealthy investors at the expense of other lives, mainly Indigenous people from around the world.

"...The largest and most aggressive resource development companies in the world are based in Australia and they are responsible for the majority of environmental catastrophes around the world. The Australian Government is allowing these same corporations to invade, occupy and destroy Aboriginal land, water and people."

Many Aboriginal people are not aware of their rights under United Nations conventions which say they can never be forced to trade their country for basic human rights like health, education and housing and have an absolute right to say no to such deals. Instead, they are being told they have no choice.

The Native Title Act 1993 provides no security for Aboriginal people to protect their land, health, culture and sustainable economic development.

The first thing Traditional Owners are told in mining negotiations from our native title representative body is, “you have no ‘veto’ so you can’t say no, so start negotiating”. The process has steered Aboriginal people down the funnel without any genuine opportunity to discuss the issues regarding the pro and cons associated with mining. Mining deals are being pushed onto Aboriginal people who are forced to make decisions without free, prior and informed consent.

"...I have clear evidence of instructions from Traditional Owner clients being ignored by a Native Title representative body. Furthermore, Elders who cannot read and right are being coerced into signing agreements."

Traditional Owners have an absolute right and responsibility to protect our ancestral lands and waters. Government policies are forcing us to move away from our traditional homelands and make it look like nobody cares about the country, to further entrench the myth that the land is empty.

Dr Anne Poelina talking with the gathering at the Walmadany Camp at its official opening of the Tent Embassy in September 2011. Image: Damian Kelly

Dr Anne Poelina talking with the gathering at the Walmadany Camp at its official opening of the Tent Embassy in September 2011. Image: Damian Kelly

We have a duty of care to look after the environment. Who talks for the river, who talks for the fish and the animals? It is our job to do the right thing now for current and future generations of all Australians.

We have a shared heritage and we need to look after this country, as Lucy Marshall OAM says “shoulder to shoulder, black and white together”.

There are so many serious challenges for Aboriginal people yet federal and state/ territory governments continually fail to look beyond their own selfish interests.

The Council Of Australian Government has failed to deliver meaning outcomes because the only things governments appear to do is focus on is mining and bullying us into giving up the last of our identity and freedom.

Every which way you look at it the governments are bullying us into mining. All the rules, all the laws, all the policies; are designed to take our rights away and force us into dangerous short term mining ventures which have produced limited changes to indicators of wellness and wealth.

All levels of government are working as direct partners with these multinational companies to send the majority of our wealth overseas. According to Senator Bob Brown 83% of the resource profit goes to international investors. These profits are derived from the destruction of our food and job security, lands and waters all of which is eroding our human rights as Australians to economic participation and personal and community well being.

There are hundreds of millions of government dollars going into mining development and the best Aboriginal people can do is to negotiate for some crumbs from a mining deal.

Surely as 2011 draws to a close, we can come up with an equitable way of sharing these resources between all of the partners and be proud of world’s better practice, with a win-win for the environment, corporate sector, governments and not least of all Traditional Owners.

We have not been given any alternatives to mining in order to improve our local economy. The federal economic policy around Native Tile is “get a mine and close the gap”.

I am not against resource development if it can be done in an ethical and responsible process however if the science is not certain of the safety and the cultural issues are not resolved then Traditional Owners must have the right to veto mining on their land.

Without these powers, Native Title will remain an Act to hard to follow.

Richaqd Hunter (L), Joseph Roe (C) and Phillip Roe (R) - Walmadany traditional law custodians. Image: Damian Kelly.

Downlaod this article - PDF (2.3 MBs)