Petition calling for inquiry into DAA
Resolutions passed at the on-Country Bush meeting held at Yule River in September included calling for an inquiry into the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA) and the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee (ACMC). We are calling on the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia to action this. Have your say by signing and distributing this petition.
Original signed copies of the petition must be returned to YMAC by 10 March 2017 – copies, including scans and faxes, cannot be submitted. Even if the petition has only one signature on it, post it back to us – every signature counts.
You can download the petition here, and the resolution demanding the inquiry here. Signed copies of the petition can be mailed to our Perth office:
Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation – Level 8, 12-14 The Esplanade, Perth WA, 6000
Resolutions from Yule River Bush Meeting, September 2016
During the two-day on-Country Bush Meeting at Yule River this year, Traditional Owners from across Western Australia passionately discussed the planned changes to the State Government’s Aboriginal Heritage Act (AHA) Amendment Bill and the Regional Service Reform Roadmap.
Two resolutions were unanimously passed by the meeting about the issues. You can download them below.
- Aboriginal Heritage Act Amendment Bill resolutions
- Regional Services Reform Roadmap resolutions
These resolutions have denounced the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Peter Collier for failing to represent the interests of those he represents, and they call for a grassroots approach to tackle issues which affect remote communities in Western Australia.
Aboriginal Heritage Act Amendment Bill
Specifically, the resolutions call for a full enquiry in to the practices of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee regarding the de-registration of heritage sites and their interpretation of the AHA when determining the significance of these sites. The resolutions also demand that a public report about the results of these investigations be made publically available.
The group also called for comprehensive collaboration with Aboriginal people to determine how their heritage is best protected according to traditional laws and customs.
Centrally, the group formally sanctioned Minister Collier by passing a motion of no-confidence in his leadership of the Ministry citing his ineffectiveness as a representative of Aboriginal people in Western Australia.
Regional Services Reform Roadmap
Those who attended Yule River were very concerned about the plan the State government has designed for remote communities in Western Australia. The group passed a resolution demanding a commitment from the State to ensure Aboriginal people are front and centre in designing reforms for their communities.
The community also demanded that the State acknowledge the work Aboriginal corporations do to deliver high-quality and irreplaceable services, and demanded that these organisations be directly involved with any reforms.
The people gathered at Yule River were very disappointed with Hon Peter Collier, his Ministry, and both State and Commonwealth governments because of the lack of transparency and accountability towards the money spent on Aboriginal services. The resolutions demand that both governments and their respective Ministers be more responsive and accountable for the impact of their reforms on Aboriginal people.
On-Country Meeting at Yule River
Following on from last year’s successful event, YMAC is helping to facilitate another On-Country Bush Meeting at the Yule River meeting place in the Pilbara on 21 and 22 September 2016.
This year, the meeting will be held over two days – the first day, Wednesday 21 September, will be open to Traditional Owners only to discuss issues important to them. The second day, Thursday 22 September, will be open to everyone including Ministers and community leaders, who will have the chance to answer questions about the Aboriginal Heritage Act Amendment Bill, the Regional Services Reform plan, and housing issues faced in the Pilbara.
You can find more information about the 2016 Yule River Bush Meeting on this downloadable flyer.
Aboriginal Heritage Act Amendment Bill update
Despite not being debated in Parliament for 12 months, the WA State Government has shown its intent to proceed with the Aboriginal Heritage Act Amendment Bill (AHAB), after restoring it to the Notice Papers on 19 February 2016. The Aboriginal Heritage Act Amendment Bill has been unanimously rejected by Traditional Owners, Elders and the wider community due to its lack of procedural fairness, and that it does not address the fundamental inequities held within the Act.
Community Closures and Aboriginal Heritage Amendment Bill
YMAC has been receiving calls and emails from members with concerns about the WA State Government’s announcements regarding the Aboriginal Heritage Act (AHA) Amendment Bill and the forced closures of Aboriginal Communities. To date, the State Government has led a deliberate campaign to exclude Land Councils from any form of genuine consultation on both the AHA amendments and Community closures. YMAC has committed significant time, staff and resources to fight these issues, including an extensive media campaign, direct meetings and lobbying with members of Parliament, providing legal advice on the proposed legislation as well as working with other Land Councils and associated groups to combine our efforts.
At the time of writing, the Aboriginal Heritage Act Amendment Bill 2014 is currently before Parliament, and we will keep you updated on this issue.
We will continue regular contact with community representatives, Land Councils and WA Government ministers to ensure we are able to respond to any developments as quickly as possible. Please check this page for updates or subscribe to our newsletter.
To connect with a group set up to combat the proposed AHA amendments, visit Aboriginal Heritage Action Alliance.
For more information on the Community Closures, visit SOS Blak Australia.
The Kimberley Land Council (KLC) has raised international awareness about the forced closure of Aboriginal communities and legislative changes to the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. Read the Kimberley Land Council United Nations submission extracts.
Friday, 1 May 2015 marked the second wave of rallies to protest the forced closure of Aboriginal communities in WA. The rallies took place worldwide, including Hong Kong, London, Berlin, Los Angeles, as well as in Australia.
YMAC’s co-chair and chair of the Yamatji Regional Committee Ben Roberts spoke to the crowd at the Geraldton rally and Doris Eaton, co-chair and chair of the Pilbara Regional Committee addressed the crowd at the Port Hedland rally.
Over 300 people attended the on-Country meeting at Yule River
Njamal Elder and YMAC Co-Chair Mrs Doris Eaton
Traditional Owners attend panel discussions at Yule River
State officials and Traditional Owners address those attending
Geraldton rally against forced closures of Aboriginal Communities,1 May 2015
Perth rally against forced closures of Aboriginal communities, 1 May 2015
Rally against Aboriginal Community Closures in Geraldton
Over 70 Traditional Owners met at Parliament to discuss the Aboriginal Heritage Act amendment bill
Timeline of YMAC Activities
- 21-22 September 2016: Yule River annual on-Country bush meeting. The first day meeting will be open to Traditional Owners only, to come together and discuss issues important to them. The second day meeting will be open to everyone – this is where ministers and community leaders will have the chance to answer questions on the Aboriginal Heritage Act Amendment Bill and Regional Services Reform.
- 17 August 2016: A joint media release was issue by the WA Alliance of Land Councils which included YMAC highlighting anger in reference to comments made by Minister Collier at a Liberal Party function, published in perthnow.com.au. The article misrepresented YMAC and the debate around the inadequacy of AHA Amendment Bill.
- 8 August 2016: Minister Collier has declined to attend the 2016 Yule River on-Country bush meeting, making this the third year in a row he will not be there.
- 29 June 2016: YMAC issued a media release in reference to Marapikurrinya Yintha being re-instated as an Aboriginal site.
- 9-10 June 2016: The Pilbara Aboriginal Corporation Forum was held in Point Samson where CEOs and Chairs from Pilbara Aboriginal corporations met to discuss issues which directly affect them. The Hon Brendon Grylls, MLA, Member for Pilbara attended the meeting on the first day and addressed the issues that the CEOs and Chairs had.
- 20-21 April 2016: YMAC hosted the meeting of WA Alliance of Aboriginal Land Councils. The AHA Amendment Bill was an agenda item including a discussion in reference in the resolution passed at Yule River.
- 19 February 2016: YMAC issued a media release following the WA State Government restoring the AHA Amendment Bill to the notice papers. The media release indicated disappointment in the Barnett Government’s intention to proceed with the AHA despite the Bill being undebated for 12 months.
- 18 February 2016: The AHA Amendment Bill is restored to the Legislative Assembly Notice Paper.
- 8 December 2015: Letter received from Minister Collier, to YMAC Chair Mrs Doris Eaton in reference to her letter to him on 7 October 2015. Mr Collier responded that despite him not attending Yule River on-Country Bush Meeting in September that he still consults Aboriginal people in matters of their heritage and the Bill and reassures an on-going commitment.
- 2 December 2015: YMAC met with Ben Wyatt MLA to discuss Yule River 2015 and the resolutions based on AHA Amendment Bill and Regional Services Reform.
- 19 November 2015: YMAC sent a letter to Minister Terry Redman MLA where the Board of Directors all signed on acknowledging the Nationals WA for their persistence in ensuring that the AHA Amendment Bill did not progress in its present form before parliament.
- 18 November 2015: Letter from Hon Jacquie Boydell MLC in response to a letter sent to the Nationals in detailing concerns relating to the National’s amendments to the AHA Amendment Bill 2014. Ms Boydell indicated that the Nationals WA will consult and notify appropriately as Aboriginal people have the right to participate in the heritage decision making process.
- 7 October 2015: YMAC Chair Mrs Doris Eaton, addressed a letter to Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Peter Collier, regarding the Yule River Annual On-country Bush Meeting and the resolutions in reference to the AHA Amendment Bill 2014.
- 27 September 2015: YMAC issued a media release highlighting the outcomes of the Yule River annual on-Country bush meeting and the resolutions that passed.
- 25 September 2015: Over 300 people met at Yule River in the Pilbara to discuss the proposed amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act and the State’s proposed Regional Services Reform. Several State MPs attended, including Ministers Redman and Morton, who are looking into the Regional Services Reform. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Peter Collier, did not attend or send a representative. You can read the resolutions from the meeting here.
- 11 August 2015: YMAC sent an invitation to all members to come to the now Annual On-Country Meeting at Yule River on 25 September. The main items on the agenda will again be the proposed changes to the AHA and the threat of remote community closures, now called the Regional Services Reform. Several State MPs have been invited and will be attending, however Minister Collier has declined to attend or send a representative.
- 9 July 2015: YMAC wrote to Minister Collier asking expressing disappointment in the Department’s lack of genuine engagement with Traditional Owners on issues concerning their heritage. As of that date, YMAC had received no reply to requests for information about the Department’s position on the Robinson decision, despite Department representatives having met with peak industry groups. The letter reminded the Minister of the commitments he made to the delegation of Elders who came to him in November 2014 to engage in respectful, genuine consultation.
- 7 July 2015: YMAC wrote the Chief Heritage Officer of DAA asking for more information about planned forums to discuss the DAA’s position on the Robinson decision, and noting that we had not received an invitation to the first forum in Perth. YMAC requested that a forum also be held in the Yamatji region, as it appeared that the DAA was not planning to hold any forum in that region at all.
- 6 July 2015: YMAC wrote to members alerting them to the planned DAA forums in Perth, Broome and Karratha, although dates times and venues had not yet been advertised. YMAC encouraged all members to contact the DAA to register their interest in participating.
- 11 June 2015: The CEO of DAA met with the peak body representing mining companies in WA, the Chamber of Minerals and Energy, about the Robinson decision and the proposed changes to the AHA. The Department had still not communicated with YMAC about this, despite a written request.
- 8 June 2015: YMAC wrote to all YMAC members with an update on the AHA Amendment Bill and the Robinson decision. The letter noted that Minister Collier still had not come to speak to Traditional Owners about the proposed changes to the AHA and that the DAA had still not made any public statement outlining its policy in response to the Robinson decision. The letter again urged members to contact their local Member of Parliament to express their concerns.
- 6 May 2015: YMAC wrote to Premier Colin Barnett asking for clarification on his plans for a ‘hub and orbit’ strategy for funding Aboriginal communities, after this strategy was reported in the West Australian.
- 1 May 2015: YMAC staff and members showed their support for Aboriginal communities by participating in marches against the Government’s threatened closures.
- 10 April 2015: YMAC wrote to all YMAC members with an update on the AHA Amendments and threats of community closures, and encouraged all members to participate in rallies on 1 May.
- 1 April 2015: The Supreme Court of Western Australia found in favour of Traditional Owners Kerry and Diana Robinson in their case against the DAA’s de-registration of a heritage site in Port Hedland (the Robinson decision). This is expected to have a significant impact on the DAA’s policy of de-registering heritage sites.
- 19 March 2015: YMAC staff joined rallies to show their opposition to the Government’s proposed closure of Aboriginal Communities.
- 10 March 2015: YMAC wrote to all YMAC members outlining the outcomes of the WA Alliance of Aboriginal Land Councils meeting, and encouraging members to contact their local Member of Parliament to let them know they do not agree with, or support the Government’s amendment bill of the Aboriginal Heritage Act or the proposed community closures.
- 9 March 2015: On behalf of the WA Alliance of Aboriginal Land Councils, YMAC drafted proposed amendments to the AHA to include procedural fairness in the legislation. This document was provided to National Party representatives for discussion.
- 4 to 6 March 2015: The WA Alliance of Aboriginal Land Councils met to discuss closures of remote Aboriginal communities and the amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act. The group met with Labor’s Ben Wyatt MLA and Josie Farrer MLA, plus Nationals leader Terry Redman MLA and Nationals member Jacqui Boydell MLC. The Premier was invited but neither attended nor sent a WA Government representative.
- 20 February 2015: YMAC wrote to Minister Collier about the regional meetings, questioning why they appeared to be held with selected Aboriginal people rather than be open to the Aboriginal community. YMAC was critical of the fact that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs did not confirm details of the meetings they had held and planned.
- 13 February 2015: YMAC’s newsletter 26 included information about the Parliamentary delegation and the AHA campaign
- 5-6 February 2015: YMAC Co-Chair Mrs Eaton invited the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to present to the Pilbara Committee meeting. The DAA did not attend.
- 27 January 2015: YMAC received an email copy of a letter from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs dated 13 January 2015, the letter re-stated the Minister’s commitment to ‘engage on possible further amendments to the Bill’, and that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs was scheduling regional visits.
- 21 January 2015: YMAC wrote to Minister Collier questioning why it seemed a series of regional meetings were being held and planned, but without the involvement of Native Title Representative Bodies. YMAC further questioned the apparent desire of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to hold only small, private meetings rather than inclusive events.
- January to March 2015: We understand that meetings in at least 12 regional locations, and potentially multiple meetings in Perth, were held. YMAC sought updated details from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs on that schedule, but our request for information was not answered.
- 2 December 2014: YMAC received a letter from Minister Collier, which said that his Parliamentary delegation commitment was to ‘engage on possible amendments’ after the introduction of the final amendment Bill. The Minister also said that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs was planning regional visits ‘as part of this commitment.’
- 27 November 2014: The State Government introduced the Aboriginal Heritage Amendment Bill 2014 into Parliament. In virtually all respects, the Bill was unchanged from the draft Bill released for consultation earlier in 2014. YMAC issued a media release criticising the introduction of the amendment Bill, and pointing out the inconsistency with the Minister’s commitment to the delegation.
- 20 November 2014: Coordinated by YMAC, over 70 Traditional Owners from all over WA gathered outside State Parliament House to present over 1,600 petition signatures to Nationals Hon Brendon Grylls and shadow Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt. Nine of these Traditional Owners then formed a delegation to meet with Minister Peter Collier, representatives of the DAA, and Mr Grylls. During that Parliamentary delegation meeting, the Minister promised he would further discuss the proposed changes to the AHA before introducing the amendment Bill into Parliament. YMAC wrote to the Minister later that same day to capture, in writing that promise.
- 4 November 2014: YMAC emailed members to remind them that the date for returning petitions has been extended.
- 24 October 2014: YMAC’s newsletter 25 included information about the Yule River meeting and the Aboriginal Heritage Act campaign.
- 23 October 2014: YMAC wrote to our members to report on the Yule River meeting and promote the petition.
- 1 October 2014: YMAC contacted various Land Councils and Aboriginal corporations to encourage them to distribute the Aboriginal Heritage Act petitions.
- 26 September 2014: Yule River on-Country meeting facilitated by YMAC. Over 200 Traditional Owners, elders and concerned community members attend this meeting to discuss the amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act. All attendees voted to reject the amendments.
- 12 September 2014: YMAC mailed members about the new Aboriginal Heritage Act petition.
- 3 September 2014: YMAC mailed members an invitation to the Yule River meeting to discuss the Aboriginal Heritage Act proposals, and a number of background documents.
- 6 August 2014: YMAC lodged its submission in response to the draft Aboriginal Heritage Amendment Bill.
- 30 June 2014 – YMAC met with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs about the process of drafting regulations for any eventual new Act, and offered to convene such a meeting.
- 11 June 2014: The State Government released the draft Aboriginal Heritage Amendment Bill. YMAC Co-Chairs distributed as much information as possible and encouraged people to make their own submissions to the review.
- 3 March 2016: Controversy swirls as heritage plans set to go ahead, Pilbara News, quoted YMAC CEO.
- 29 February 2016: NITV News, television interview with YMAC Co-Chair Mrs Doris Eaton about proposed changes to the AHA and how it will affect heritage sites in WA.
- 13 October 2015: Lack of trust in politicians: Aboriginal leaders, Pilbara News, quoted YMAC Co-Chair Mrs Doris Eaton.
- 7 October 2015: 300 voice anger at WA talks, Koori Mail, quoted YMAC CEO, and Co-Chair Mrs Doris Eaton.
- 30 September 2015: Fair approach essential for heritage solution, The West Australian, editorial by YMAC CEO Simon Hawkins.
- 30 September 2015: Concern over Heritage Act, Pilbara News, quoted YMAC Co-Chair Mrs Doris Eaton.
- 30 September 2015: Anger over amendment delay after Yule River, North West Telegraph, quoted YMAC CEO, and Co-Chair Mrs Doris Eaton.
- 15 July 2015: Aboriginal land row, Pilbara News, quoted YMAC CEO.
- 30 March 2015: Fighting for culture, Letter to the editor by YMAC Co-Chairs about the AHA, The West Australian.
- 13 March 2015: Treat us equally, Letter to the editor by YMAC CEO about community closures, The West Australian.
- 1 March 2015: Aboriginal land row, The Sunday Times, quoted YMAC CEO.
- 17 December 2014: Council warns on heritage changes, Koori Mail, quoted YMAC Co-Chair Mrs Eaton.
- 10 December 2014: A matter of respect, Letter to the editor by YMAC CEO on proposed changes to the Aboriginal Heritage Act.
- 3 December 2014: WA delegation fights for heritage, Koori Mail, quoted YMAC Co-Chair Mrs Eaton.
- 2 December 2014: Heritage Bill sparks anger, Kalgoorlie Miner, quoted YMAC CEO.
- December 2014: Concern expressed over Aboriginal Heritage by YMAC, Mulga Mail, quoted YMAC CEO.
- 28 November 2014: Heritage site rorts claim challenged, The West Australian, quoted YMAC CEO.
- 27 November 2014: 3CR in Melbourne interviewed YMAC CEO about the Parliamentary delegation and the introduction of the Bill.
- 26 November 2014: Owners protest heritage Bill, North West Telegraph, quoted YMAC CEO and Njamal Elder, Mrs Eaton.
- 21 November 2014: Sacred sites set to lose status, The Australian, quoted both YMAC CEO and Pilbara leader Mrs Eaton.
- 20 November 2014: Petition shows anger at amendment, Kalgoorlie Miner, quoted YMAC CEO.
- 20 November 2014: ABC North West Karratha interviewed YMAC Co-Chair Mrs Eaton about the Parliamentary delegation.
- 19 November 2014: Traditional owners protest at Heritage Act changes, North West Telegraph, quoted YMAC CEO.
- 19 November 2014: 6PR News interviewed YMAC CEO about the upcoming Parliamentary delegation of Traditional Owners.
- 10 October 2014: Anger over Heritage Act changes, Geraldton Guardian, quoted YMAC CEO.
- 8 October 2014: Outrage at WA Govt heritage proposals, Koori Mail, quoted YMAC Co-Chair Mrs Eaton.
- 8 October 2014: Kimberley Land Council declares it won’t accept Heritage Act changes, National Indigenous Times – article referred to YMAC’s Yule River meeting as well, but did not quote YMAC.
- 7 October 2014: NITV / SBS News interviewed YMAC Co-Chair Mrs Eaton about the Yule River meeting and the proposed changes.
- 1 October 2014: Heritage has ‘two standards’, North West Telegraph, quoted YMAC CEO.
- 1 October 2014: Uproar at heritage change, Pilbara News, quoted YMAC CEO.
- 25 September 2014: Ancient sites at risk in the Pilbara, The Australian, quoted YMAC CEO.
- 16 July 2014: Elders worried WA’s Heritage Act is being watered down, National Indigenous Times, quoted both YMAC CEO and YMAC Director of Research and Heritage.
- 2 July 2014: Planned WA heritage changes condemned, Koori Mail, quoted YMAC CEO.
- 23 June 2014: Bureaucrat’s last word on sites stirs anger, The Australian, quoted YMAC CEO.
- 20 June 2014: Greens MLC sparks racial slur claims, The West Australian – article was about the proposed AHA changes, and included a comment on that issue (but not the Greens MP’s statements) by YMAC CEO.