Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation initiates a new approach to agreement-making on country

Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation initiates a new approach to agreement-making on country

Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation (MAC) has defined a new approach to agreement making in Australia, following the signing today of a Statement of Intent by MAC, Federal, State and local government and major industry.

The Statement of Intent demonstrates that the signatories – including the Federal Environment Minister, Premier of Western Australia, State ministers and CEOs at the City of Karratha, Rio Tinto, Woodside, Yara Pilbara, Perdaman and Horizon Power – are willing to consensually form a Heads of Agreement that will place MAC on an equal footing in future decision-making about land use on Murujuga country.

The innovative agreement will replace existing, outdated Commonwealth Conservation Agreements previously formed between the Federal Government and industry, and will provide a framework that will guide how all parties engage with MAC in matters relating to Murujuga country.

In turn, this will support the nomination led by MAC for World Heritage Listing of the Murujuga Cultural Landscape, by demonstrating co-existence and co-management of Murujuga by MAC with government and industry.

The signing of the Statement of Intent is a significant milestone in a strategic agreement making project that MAC has been progressing since 2023 with Commonwealth and State support.

Comments attributable to MAC Chairperson Mr Peter Hicks:

“Today is a proud moment for Ngarda Ngarli, because – even though our connection to Murujuga country has persisted more than 50,0000 years – the legal framework has not previously included the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Murujuga as decisionmakers.

“The signing of the Statement of Intent is a step towards forming a Heads of Agreement that will ensure MAC, as the representative body for Murujuga Traditional Owners and Custodians, and the cultural authority for the Murujuga Cultural Landscape, is on an equal footing in future decision-making – instead of us needing to push to be recognised each time.

“As far as we know, this is the first time in Australia that government and industry have agreed to work towards a Heads of Agreement such as this.

“It’s therefore an important moment for First Nations peoples around the country.”

Comments attributable MAC CEO Mr Kim Wood:

“Today’s signing results from a long campaign by MAC to have its cultural authority valued and a willingness from government and industry to move towards a modern framework that recognises Traditional Owners’ and Custodians’ self-determination and equal status in decision-making.

“MAC is looking forward to working with the signatories to form a Heads of Agreement, following processes aligned with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the principle of free, prior and informed consent.

“This new and innovative agreement-making process will allow the co-existence of this spectacular and unique cultural landscape with industry, while creating certainty and stability – it’s a truly great step forward for Murujuga country and its Custodians.”

Download the Statement of Intent here (unsigned version).

Watch a message from the Federal Environment Minister about the signing of the Statement here.

Read a statement about the signing from the WA Premier, Aboriginal Affairs and Environment Ministers here.

Photo (credit: Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation): Turtles with eggs rock art engraving, Murujuga.

Notes to media:

The Murujuga Cultural Landscape is a 100,000ha area covering the Dampier Archipelago, Burrup Peninsula and surrounding sea country that is nominated for World Heritage Listing.

Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation represents Members from five Traditional Owner and Custodial groups for Murujuga: the Yaburara, Ngarluma, Mardudhunera, Yindjibarndi and Wong-Goo-Tt-Oo peoples. The collective term for these five peoples is Ngarda-Ngarli.

Please contact MAC before publishing images of Murujuga rock art engravings to avoid publishing images that may be culturally restricted. To arrange interviews; access to culturally-approved images or other information, contact:

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