Country, Culture, People, Future

Mrs Doris Eaton

Celebrating 20 years of YMAC

Posted: December 17th, 2014

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December marks 20 years since YMAC became a representative body under the Native Title Act. In celebration of this milestone the Board of Directors is proud to announce a new publication Looking After Country: Our Mother, Our Provider and Keeper.

The book, which is rich with photos and interviews, provides an important record of the achievements of the organisation and the Traditional Owners of the the Murchison, Gascoyne and Pilbara regions of Western Australia.

YMAC Co-Chairperson Mrs Doris Eaton said the book is a retrospective on the organisation, how it has grown, and what it has achieved.

“It took us 20 years to get where we are but we’ve got more things to do. We want to see more determinations, we’ve got more to come.”

Click here to view the book on the web or email to request a hard copy.

Read our excerpt from “The Miners”

Posted: November 26th, 2013

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Yamatji Marlpa’s CEO Simon Hawkins was featured in the recently published The Miners – Stories from the industry that drives modern Australia, by Barry Avery.

The Miners is available at with proceeds going to the Starlight Foundation:

Read the excerpt here:

The 1992 event that has become known as the Mabo Decision changed the landscape of mining and exploration in Australia forever. This was a landmark High Court ruling that recognised the legal concept of Native Title for the first time, rejecting the previously held doctrine of terra nullius. It gave the Indigenous traditional owners certain legal rights to their land.


The Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation (YMAC), of which Simon Hawkins has been chief executive for the past decade, is an organisation that represents 25 Aboriginal cultural groups across the Pilbara, Murchison and Gascoyne regions of Western Australia – including dealing with Australia’s major resource developers with respect to Native Title claims. Hawkins explains that recognition of Native Title does not give a veto over mining or development, as traditional owners cannot stop mining from going ahead. What it does give these groups is a right to negotiate, allowing development to go ahead while claims are being resolved. ‘This gives traditional owners a seat at the table – to have a say about how mining will unfold on their country,’ he says.

‘When I started as chief executive in 2003, the mining boom was ramping up and companies which previously had poor relationships with Aboriginal people were now knocking on our door. Within my first few weeks on the job, Rio Tinto said it wanted to do a comprehensive agreement in the Pilbara. (more…)

YMAC News issue 22 now available for download

Posted: October 24th, 2013

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YMAC News issue 22 FRONT COVER

The latest issue of YMAC News is now available for download!

Our cover story is all about the Federal Court’s decision to recognise the Banjima people’s native title rights, and includes lots of photos of Banjima community members who attended the Court Hearing.

There are also photos from preservation evidence hearings for the Kariyarra and Jurruru claims. These hearings gave elders the chance to make sure the Federal Court could record their knowledge, and represent significant progress on both of these claims.

You can also read about a scholarship for Yugunga-Nya students, a visit by some of the Yamatji Committee members to the Western Desert, and the new book by author and elder Clarrie Cameron. There is also an update from YMAC’s policy officer Christina Colegate about the Federal Government’s Review of Native Title Organisations.

Click here to download YMAC News Issue 22, or browse earlier issues here.

YMAC’s Co-Chair Speaks at International Mining Conference

Posted: May 21st, 2013

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YMAC would like to congratulate our Co-Chairperson, Mrs Doris Eaton, who attended the International Mining for Development Conference yesterday in Sydney.

Mrs Eaton was invited to speak on a panel alongside Ms Katherine Heller from the World Bank, Dr Helen Szoke Chief Executive of Oxfam Australia, and Ms Ume Wainetti, Program Coordinator of the Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee in Papua New Guinea.

Discussion focused on the challenges and opportunities that arise from mining for developing communities across the world, with particular emphasis on how women from these communities can access and make use of mining benefits.

Delegates at the Conference came from over 60 nations.

Please click here to listen to Mrs Eaton’s interview with SBS Radio following the Conference.

For more information, visit the International Mining for Development Centre website.

Pilbara women meet African women in mining

Posted: November 6th, 2012

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photo courtesy AAPF / AusAID
Last week, senior women from Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation met with a visiting delegation of women involved in mining and development issues from various nations across Africa.
The delegation included representatives from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Madagascar and Mozambique. The group visited the Pilbara as part of a Mining Study Tour funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). Organisers of the tour included the International Mining for Development Centre and the Australia-Africa Partnerships Facility.
The women came together in Karratha to share their experiences working with the mining industry at local, regional and national levels.  They also discussed significant expansion of the mining, and oil and gas industries in Africa, the long history of mining on traditional Aboriginal country in the Pilbara and the challenge of channelling the benefits of these industries into sustainable community development.
Njamal elder and Co-Chair of Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation, Mrs Doris Eaton, said the meeting was an excellent opportunity to learn more about women leading their communities in Africa, and share the experiences of mining and development in the Pilbara.

YMAC Co-Chair speaks in the national media about the future of Njamal country

Posted: August 27th, 2012

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The Njamal people of the Pilbara region of WA welcomed a visit by United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya on their country last week. Professor Anaya visited the site of a joint venture between the Njamal people and Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), the North Star Project.


The Njamal People and FMG entered into an agreement in December 2011 that will protect significant cultural sites and lead to the creation of a joint venture to run a mining operation on an orebody adjacent to FMG’s proposed North Star mine.

During the visit, YMAC Co-Chair and Njamal elder Mrs. Doris Eaton spoke to Fairfax media about the joint venture and what it means for Njamal people and country.
Read the full story in the Sydney Morning Herald here.

Professor Anaya had the opportunity to meet with the Njamal people and representatives of FMG to learn more about this unique land access agreement. He also visited significant Njamal heritage sites, including rock art complexes, and spoke with the Njamal people about the effect that mining has had on their community.


“I’m grateful to the Njamal people for the opportunity to meet with them on their country, along with representatives of FMG, and learn about a unique and potentially beneficial arrangement with the mining industry”, Professor Anaya said.

Mrs Eaton said “This trip was a good opportunity to show Professor Anaya and the wider community what the Njamal People have achieved through our agreement with FMG. It is important that people see the beauty of our country first hand so that we can all work together to protect our culture, heritage and stories

Download YMAC News issue 17

Posted: March 22nd, 2012

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The latest issue of YMAC News is now available from our website.

It features a ceremony marking a milestone on Badimia country, a unique agreement for the future of the Njamal people, an important legal win for the Kurama and Marthudunera people, and a valuable course attended by YMAC’s co-Chairs.

There are also several new features, including “Respect for elders”, a section profiling respected elders of the Midwest and Pilbara. This issue looks at Ngarla men Charlie Coppin and Stephen Stewart. There is also a new “Frequently asked questions” section and a new column from Christina Colegate, YMAC’s policy officer.

We have also profiled YMAC Committee member Rodney Ryan, staff member Jerry Maher, and community member Dawn Hamlett.

If you have any stories you’d like to share with us, elders who you think we should profile, questions about native title, or any other letters to the editor, send them to

We hope you enjoy this issue of YMAC news.

Click here to download your copy.

YMAC features on International Documentary

Posted: August 17th, 2011

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Last month, YMAC’s Pilbara Chairperson, Mrs Doris Eaton, took part in an on country interview with the international broadcaster, Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera is a highly regarded international media network that broadcasts to more than 220 million households in more than 100 countries and is the most watched news channel on You Tube, receiving 2.5 million views per month.

The program, “Australia’s Boomtown Curse” looks at Australia’s mining industry and the issues that emerge from a boom.

The program can be viewed here: