Australian news, and some related international items

Indigenous Australians Western Australian group at Paris UN climate talks

Rising sea levels and global temperatures could impact on Kimberley Aboriginal groups, who potentially face hotter and more frequent bushfires, affecting traditionally significant animal and plant life.

WA group represents Indigenous Australia at UN climate change conference  By Natalie Jones  A group of leaders from Northern WA is heading to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris to be the voice of Indigenous Australia.

The Kimberley Land Council (KLC) group of five will be led by KLC chairman Anthony Watson, who is also the Australian delegate to the Indigenous People’s Forum on Climate Change.

“I’ll be with the Pacific Islanders. They have a lot of concerns about their islands going underwater and they’ll be raising their concerns and I’ll be supporting them in whatever way I can,” Mr Watson said. Continue reading

November 25, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Aboriginal leaders meet Kiribati president in support of climate action, stopping coal mines

Kiribati 15Wangan & Jagalingou leader in historic meeting with Kiribati president November 19, 2015 Joins president’s call for no new coal mines; seeks support to defend W&J’s rights and country

Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owner, and senior spokesperson Adrian Burragubba, will this morning meet with President Anote Tong of Kiribati and offer support to his call for a global moratorium on new coal mines. The meeting will bring together for the first time two leaders of traditional peoples in the region vulnerable to the devastating impacts of coal mining and burning. Continue reading

November 22, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Indigenous Australians fight Liberal bigwig Grant Chapman’s plan for radioactive trash dump

handsoffIndigenous groups to fight plan for Flinders Ranges nuclear dump THE AUSTRALIAN NOVEMBER 18, 2015 Michael Owen Aborigines in the northern Flinders Ranges of South Australia are vowing to fight any move to make a site owned by a former senator the home of a national nuclear waste dump.

A group representing the ­Adnyamathanha people yesterday said it was fiercely opposed to any expansion of the nuclear industry. The group was shocked that Barndioota, along the Leigh Creek railway to Port Augusta, was one of six sites, including three in South Australia, being considered by the federal government to store low and intermediate-level nuclear waste.greed copy

Former senator and state Liberal Party president Grant Chapman jointly owns the long-term lease to
Wallerberdina, a station near Barndioota in the Flinders Ranges. If the site were chosen, it would house a ­storage facility over about 100ha in the northern section of the 25,000ha property.

Adnyamathanha Camp Law Mob spokeswoman Jillian Marsh yesterday said there was no support for the “imposition of a radioactive waste dump on ­Adnyamathanha country”.

“We are shocked that one of the three nominated sites in South Australia … is 377 Wallerberdina Road, Barndioota,” Ms Marsh said. “We understand that ex-Liberal senator Grant Chapman is the current owner of the nominated site that is a perpetual lease property and therefore no native title claim can be lodged.”

She said federal Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg should disclose who was consulted before sites were nominated. “We want no further expansion of the ­nuclear industry,” she said………

November 18, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Opposition to nuclear, South Australia | Leave a comment

Indigenous Adnyamathanha Camp Law Mob shocked at selection of South Australian site for radioactive trash dump

Response from the Adnyamathanha Camp Law Mob regarding the Federal Resources Minister’s announcement of 3 sites nominated for a nuclear waste dump in South Australia.

The Adnyamathanha Camp Law Mob are a group of Adnyamathna people who meet regularly to discuss issues relating to our land and culture.

The Camp Law mob share this message on behalf of all Adnyamathanha people and other South Australians who are opposed to any further expansion of the nuclear industry.  We have taken part in the SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, and our views along with many others are clearly stated in our submission that we do not support any expansion of a nuclear industry this includes the imposition of a radioactive waste dump on Adnyamathana country at Barndioota.

We are shocked to hear on Friday 13th November 2015 that one of the 3 nominated sites in South Australia for a national nuclear waste dump is 377 Wallerberdina Road, Barndioota.  We understand that ex-Liberal Senator Grant Chapman is the current owner of the nominated site that is a Perpetual Lease property and therefore no native title claim can be lodged over this area.  It must still be governed according to the requirements of the Aboriginal Heritage legislation.


We demand that the Federal Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg publicly declare who he has consulted regarding these nomination, and who has the authority to nominate these si­tes.

We want to know who are the experts with local knowledge that took part in the advisory panel prior to these sites being nominated as waste sites?  Who are the Traditional Owners that took part in this process?  What Traditional knowledge from thousands of years of occupation has been incorporated into the decision-making?

Our involvement is this industry is nothing new. We were concerned by the government agreeing to uranium mining activities that have now permanently contaminated our land and our groundwater.   We want no further expansion of the nuclear industry and we will continue to fight for our rights as Traditional Owners in respect of the wisdom of our old people that came before us.

That’s what Traditional Owners do.  We care for our country.  We only wish governments and industries would do the same.  Stop playing with our future and care for our country.

November 16, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Australian govt avoiding opposition from Aboriginals, as it selects nuclear waste dump sites

text-cat-questionIs the Australian government in  a hurry to reassure Sydney residents about the nuclear waste dump, and also scared of the potential powerful opposition by Aboriginal people?  Australia is contractually bound to take back these wastes from France.

handsoffNative titles extinguished Significantly, native title has been extinguished on all the shortlisted sites.

Six areas make shortlist for nuclear waste storage, AFR, by Laura Tingle, 13 Nov 15, South Australia appears to be the most likely home for nuclear waste storage after the Turnbull government shortlisted six sites for a facility to store low-level radioactive waste.

Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg unveiled the list of six sites arising from a process in which landowners voluntarily nominated their land. A final decision is expected by the end of next year after long community consultations.

The six shortlisted sites are at locations near Sally’s Flat in NSW; Hale in the Northern Territory; Cortlinye, Pinkawillinie and Barndioota in South Australia; and Oman Ama in Queensland….

The federal low-level waste storage proposal is separate from the [South Australia Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission] scheme originally raised by a nuclear energy inquiry commissioned by the Howard government – and recently canvassed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – that would see Australian uranium exported and ultimately brought back as high-level waste…….. Continue reading

November 13, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment

The Balunu Foundation’s healing programme of green energy with Aboriginal people

Indigenous communities looking to go green  Penny Timms reported this story on Monday, November 2, 2015 
ELEANOR HALL: A charity that aims to break the cycle of Indigenous disadvantage says clean technology could revolutionise remote Australia. Continue reading

November 4, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, energy, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Why don’t we make Australians Aboriginal? Teach them to connect to country

Already as a nation, we have and have had:

  • Australians who embrace and who are proud of being part of the oldest living culture in the world. 
  • Australians who walked side by side for reconciliation.
  • Australians who fought side by side on foreign soils.
  • Australians who compete internationally as teammates, mentors and coaches.
  • Australians who are family, friends, mates and work colleagues.

What would happen if we as Aboriginal people invited and welcomed non-Aboriginal Australians into our community?

What if Aboriginal people helped all Australians to connect to country?, Guardian, Charlie Jia , 1 Nov 15   Picture this: every time Malcolm Turnbull addresses the nation, he acknowledges the Aboriginal country he was born on. @IndigenousX host Charlie Jia imagines a new kind of united Australian identity that is the true Australian identity?

This is Aboriginal land. Our people were always here.

This is the situation. This will never change.

Despite this truth, most Australians believe that Aboriginal people are Australians, first. Whereas most Aboriginal people would say, “we are Aboriginal first”.

Our Aboriginal sporting heroes, our Aboriginal politicians, our Aboriginal actors would all say they are representing their people. Most of us would say exactly the same thing.

The walk for reconciliation changed my life. I still believe we can walk together

Stuart McMinn for IndigenousX

So, isn’t it about time the Commonwealth of Australia stopped trying to make Aboriginal people Australian? Instead, why don’t we make Australians Aboriginal?….. Continue reading

November 4, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Seed – Indigenous Youth Declaration for Climate Justice

“As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people we are a part of the oldest continuing culture in the world and have lived in harmony with our land for generations.

Right now climate change is disproportionately affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We are experiencing rising sea levels in the Torres Strait, the loss of sacred country, diminishing food and water accessibility.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the injustices go beyond the climate impacts. The fossil fuel industry has been putting stress on our land, our culture and our communities for decades.
Our vision is for a just and sustainable future with strong cultures and communities, powered by renewable energy. Our vision and the fossil fuel industry cannot co­exist.  … “

October 29, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’s legal action against coal port at Abbot Point

justiceSeed – Risking the Reef Campaign
“Right now, there’s currently a proposal to build the  world’s biggest coal port on the Great Barrier Reef at Abbot Point. If built it would unlock the Galilee basin  – one of the largest reserves of coal in the world.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are already facing the impacts of climate change today, we need to be moving beyond coal and gas and transitioning to clean renewable energy, not digging up more of our sacred land. This means ensuring the proposed Abbot Point port expansion,
subsequent railway line and coal mines don’t go ahead. …

The Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners have launched a legal case in the Federal Court to reject this project. …  We’re sending a clear message to the banks that if they invest  in reef and climate destruction, then were dumping them. …
Take action now by heading to “

October 29, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, Queensland | Leave a comment

Tourism industry at Maralinga – but how safe is Maralinga nuclear bomb site?

from THE AUSTRALIAN, 26 Oct 15 …… Robin Matthews, the weathered caretaker of Maralinga nuclear test site, welcomes his visitors with some soothing words: the endless expanse of red gibber plain is safe — just as long as you do not dig.

Concealed under the rusty soil lies 60-year-old secrets of the British Empire, where seven nuc­lear bombs were detonated and hundreds of minor trials using plutonium and other radioactive materials contaminated kilo­metres of land.


But look close enough and the remnants of the tests are there — from the salt bush that refuses to grow any taller than 30cm and marks out a wide circle in the blast zones to scattered shrapnel and dark-green glass scattered across ground zero at the Breakaway ­nuclear test site, created by the heat of the explosion……

Most of the land was handed back to the Maralinga Tjarutja Aboriginal people in 2009 after rehabilitation work was finished, but Defence held on to the ­weapons-testing range in the Woomera Prohibited Area. In November last year, the 1782sq km site was officially handed back to the Aboriginal people.

Government papers released in 2011 show the site had required further remediation, with the topsoil over the massive Taranaki trench — four football fields wide and three storeys deep and now the burial site for contaminated topsoil and machinery — eroding over time.

Maralinga-Tjarutja general manager Richard Preece said the traditional owners of the land still did not want anything to do with the area, which they described as mamu (devil) country…..

Mr Preece said Maralinga was not only a legacy for Aboriginal people, but also for all Australians who had to remediate the site and were now left with buried radioactive material.

“I find it incredible that somehow it was all right for the British government on foreign soil to create a radioactive mess that was completely left to Australia,” he said.

October 26, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, environment, South Australia | Leave a comment

Energy resources of Australia abandons plan to expand Ranger uranium mine

Ranger 3Energy Resources of Australia Accepts Defeat on Ranger Uranium Mine Extension, Uranium Investing News,  • October 19, 2015 Mining Australia reported that Energy Resources of Australia (ASX:ERA) has decided to accept defeat on plan to extend Ranger uranium mine beyond 2021.

As quoted in the market news:

A statement from ERA this afternoon revealed the Mirrar Traditional Owners and Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation do not support an extension to the authority to mine at Ranger, in Kakadu National Park.

A statement from ERA said the company respected the views of the Traditional Owners, and would undertake a business review in light of their decision.

“In light of this development, ERA has commenced a process of assessing whether the company’s assets may be impaired,” the company said.

The news was welcomed by Environment Centre NT, where Nuclear Free campaigner Lauren Mellor said it was time for “the era of rehabilitation and a staged and managed exit from Kakadu to begin”.

“ERA must now accept full financial responsibility for the costly and complex task of rehabilitation, accept Rio’s funding offer and cooperate with all stakeholders in the transition to a post-mining phase of operations,” Mellor said.

October 23, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Indigenous owners will manage huge new protected area in New South Wales

Env-AustHistoric return of land to Indigenous owners in biggest protected area in South Australia There’s been an historic handover to traditional landowners in New South Wales, SBS,  27 SEP 2015 The 22,000 hectare Mawonga Station is now the biggest piece of Indigenous protected land in Southern Australia.

It’s located in central New South Wales, about 550 kilometres west of Sydney, and is the home of the Ngiyampaa Wangaaypuwan people…….

The handover happened thanks to a partnership between the federal government, the Indigenous Land Corporation, and the Nature Conservation Trust of NSW.

Nature Conservation Trust Board Member Russell Taylor said it will protect, preserve and maintain the natural and cultural heritage of country.

The land repatriation isn’t a native title claim.  Former Labor environment minister Peter Garrett signed off on its purchase by the Indigenous Land Council in 2011.

“It was one of the great pleasures in my life as environment minister when i could start this process as a government and i think the tax payers got pretty good value from it to tell you the truth,” he said.

The former owner recognised sacred rock art sites on the property and pushed for its sale to an Aboriginal group, then to return it to its rightful owners.

It’s become the largest Indigenous Protection Area in southeast Australia. ……

October 23, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Aboriginal women will fight on against nuclear waste dumping in South Australia

Aboriginal women reaffirm fight against nuclear waste dump in South Australia ABC Radio National,  The World Today  By Natalie Whiting 16 Oct 15 The first shipment of Australia’s nuclear waste to be returned from re-processing in France has now left a French port, and will arrive on our shores by the end of the year. The return of the 25 tonnes of nuclear waste is putting renewed pressure on the Federal Government to find a location for a permanent waste dump.

The shipment began its journey just a day after senior Aboriginal women gathered in Adelaide to mark their fight against a proposed dump in South Australia in the 1990s.

The women say they will fight against any new move to put the waste on their land…..


SA Aboriginal women remember waste dump victory A Federal Government plan to build a Austin, Emily (centre)nuclear waste dump in the South Australian outback in 1998 attracted fierce opposition, especially among local Aboriginal people.

An event in Adelaide last night celebrated the work of a group of women called kupa piti kungka tjuta, who campaigned against the dump. Emily Austin from Coober Pedy was one of them. (centre in picture)

“We used to fight, we travelled everywhere – we went to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide,” she said.
“We were telling them that’s poison and you’re going to bury it in our country? “That’s no good.”

The women campaigned for six years until a Federal Court challenge from the South Australian government put an end to the dump. Ms Austin said she could remember the day the court found in South Australia’s favour.

“I was out in the bush hunting and I heard it on the radio in the Toyota. We were all screaming, ‘We won’.

“All the kungkas (women) were happy.”

While the Federal Government is in the midst of a voluntary process for finding a site for a dump, South Australia’s outback is still seen as an ideal location.

The South Australian Government’s attitude to the industry has been shifting.

It has launched a royal commission to investigate possible further involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle.The royal commission is looking at everything from mining uranium, processing, waste storage and nuclear power.

The organiser of last night’s event, Karina Lester, is the granddaughter of one of the women who campaigned and her father was blinded by the British nuclear tests at Maralinga half a century ago.

She said the Aboriginal people in South Australia’s north have a long and tortured history with the nuclear industry. “Maralinga’s had a huge impact because people speak from first-hand experience,” she said.

“People like the amazing kupa piti kungka tjuta, many of those old women who are no longer with us today, they were there the day the ground shook and the black mist rolled.

“It’s an industry that doesn’t sit comfortably with Anungu community.”

Ms Lester said it was good to see the royal commission consulting with people before a decision is made.”Credit to the royal commission that they’ve made an effort to engage with a broader community of Aboriginal communities,” she said.

“But how many of those Anangu are really understanding he technicality of this royal commission and what industry really means?” Ms Austin said she was ready to fight any future attempts to set up a waste dump in the region.

“Oh yeah, I’ve still got fight yet. They might stop yet, they might listen, I dunno,” she said.

October 16, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

There needs to be a stronger framework for Aboriginal property rights

The ‘Right To Development’ On Indigenous Lands, New Matilda, By  on August 9, 2015 “…. At the heart of this resurfaced concern about native title property rights is a policy concern that despite unimagined land holdings in north Australia (nearly half is currently held under some form of Indigenous title), Aboriginal people remain absolutely and relatively impoverished according to standard social indicators…..

At the heart of current concerns are two apparent contradictions.

First, to get back their land, Indigenous claimants need to legally demonstrate continuity of rights and interests under traditional laws acknowledged and traditional customs observed and to demonstrate continuity of connection with lands and waters since colonisation. Similar requirements are stipulated in earlier land rights law to demonstrate primary spiritual responsibility for land and to have a right to forage, to economically use, land claimed.

Such special relationship with land that is usually of low commercial value, in turn requires land owners to live remote from mainstream work opportunities. The maintenance of tradition that is required to claim the land, and hold it, geographically disadvantages land holders in their engagements with 21stcentury global capitalism. This also raises important questions about what constitutes ‘economic development’ from the perspective of Indigenous land owners.

Second, in accord with tradition land is inalienable. There was no trade in land pre-colonially and so land was passed inter-generationally on the basis of descent.

I am not convinced that inalienability is a major hurdle to development………

What is more significant, in my opinion, is the issue of property rights and the legal finding that mineral ownership is vested with the crown alongside state assertion of exclusive rights to own and regulate valuable natural resources like fresh water, fisheries and even carbon for commercial purposes….

Unfortunately, the Native Title Act framework provides native title groups a far weaker property right, a mere right to negotiate with a window of opportunity of six months, at best, and a right of consultation, at worst. This has resulted in many benefit sharing agreements, although whether they are equitable remains a contentious point.

And as Indigenous people get back more and more of the continent, political pressure continues to deprive them of ownership of commercially valuable resources: minerals, fisheries and fresh water. And as resource hungry developers look to explore and exploit Indigenous lands, there is a risk that disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians might increase rather than decline.

Equally unfortunately, while the dominant approach to Indigenous development focuses on ‘mainstreaming’ the only guarantees that Indigenous people have to resources are outside the market system. So, Indigenous groups may be guaranteed ‘customary’ non-market rights, but not commercial market rights.

The Australian Law Reform Commission has produced the only policy response to grasp this key issue when it recommends that native title rights and interests might be exercised for any purpose, including the commercial alongside hunting, fishing, gathering and trading rights and interests. This is a means to empower Indigenous land owners to have the freedom to make development choice, although such policy reform could exacerbate wealth and wellbeing differentials between those who own land and those who do not.

Others like the White Paper and the Australian Human Rights Commission focus too much on real or imagined over-regulation of Indigenous lands and seek the removal of what Mick Gooda and Tim Wilson refer to as ‘red and green tape that stifles Indigenous development’. This all sounds too much like Keating’s warnings about ‘workability’ and risks change that will be structural and disempowering of the Indigenous disadvantaged in favour of the rich and powerful.

It might be timely for those who champion ‘rights to development’ to advocate for stronger Indigenous property rights either by making them inclusive of commercial rights, at best, or by making them the equivalent of the free prior informed consent rights proposed by Justice Woodward and embedded in land rights law nearly 40 years ago.

Such advocacy might see prospects for Closing the Gap enhanced for those Indigenous people who prioritise development in the mainstream while simultaneously enhancing livelihood prospects from alternate forms of development for those who choose otherwise.

As the Broome Communiqué of May 2015 noted there are tensions between cultural matters, environmental protection and development objectives. Stronger native title property rights are a potentially important means to ameliorate such tensions.

A version of this article was published in Land Rights News Northern Edition August 2015/Edition 3. 

October 14, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s govt slow to re-register Aboriginal sacred sites

Aboriginal-protest-remote-WWA Government ‘dragging feet’ over sacred site registration: Indigenous group, ABC News 25 Sep 15 By Kathryn Diss An Aboriginal heritage group has accused the State Government of dragging its feet on reinstating several sacred sites it deregistered over the past year.

Several culturally significant sites around WA have had their protection withdrawn on the basis they no longer fit the definition of a sacred site.

Guidelines issued by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs stated that to be a recognised sacred site, a place needed to have been devoted to religious use rather than simply mythological stories, songs or beliefs.

But in a test case in April challenging the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee’s (ACMC) deregistration of a site in Port Hedland, the Supreme Court quashed the decision to remove it from the protected list.

Dr Stephen Bennetts from the Aboriginal Heritage Action Alliance said it had been months since the ruling was handed down and the government had not yet reinstated the other sites.

Dr Bennetts said he is concerned the sites could be damaged if they were not adequately protected. “It is quite possible some of those may have already been damaged,” he said.

Dr Bennetts said it was a scandal none of the custodians of the deregistered sites had been notified of the court’s decision.

“Because we know the reasoning the ACMC deregistered them in the first place was to make it easier for developers to get their approvals that was the exact reason,” he said………..

September 26, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment


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