Country, Culture, People, Future

March 2020

WA travel restrictions come into place from midnight Tuesday

Posted: March 31st, 2020

In a bid to reduce the spread of COVID-19, West Australian Premier Mark McGowan will introduce travel restrictions within WA from midnight Tuesday, 31 March.

West Australians are urged to abide by these restrictions to protect themselves, their family and the wider community.

People will not be permitted to leave their regional boundary and if they choose to, police can enforce fines of up to $50,000.

The regional boundaries include the South-West, Great Southern, Goldfields-Esperance, Mid West, Wheatbelt, Gascoyne, Pilbara and Kimberley. Due to their close proximity, the Perth and Peel regions will combine into one region. See map here

Exemptions will only apply in the following circumstances: employment purposes; medical or veterinary reasons; delivery of essential services including health or emergency services; people living across regional boundaries, who may not have access to groceries or supplies immediately within their region; transport of goods; compassionate grounds; a family member has primary care responsibilities; for school, TAFE or tertiary study reasons; to escape domestic violence or due to an emergency.

Additional restrictions to remote Aboriginal communities were announced last week by Ben Wyatt, Aboriginal Affairs Minister, to provide extra protection to vulnerable communities.

More information here

ORIC Registrar’s actions to help Aboriginal Corporations during COVID-19

Posted: March 27th, 2020


The Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) is aware of the challenges posed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations during this period. They are working on temporary provisions to support your operations and governance.

The Registrar continues to operate with staff available for you to contact to help you with any questions you have regarding the operation and governance of your corporation.

The Registrar will use his unique powers and the flexibility of the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act), to help corporations manage the threats and impacts of COVID-19.

A corporation can request the Registrar exercise his power under the CATSI Act to change their rule book to include a set of special rules to assist, without needing to pass a special resolution for this purpose.

More information can be found here.

Regular updates and further information can be found here


Posted: March 26th, 2020

The State and Commonwealth Government has today announced new restrictions.  From 9pm on Thursday, 26 March 2020 travel and access into the following communities will be restricted:

  • The Kimberley;
  • Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku; and
  • parts of the Shire of the East Pilbara that encompass the communities of Jigalong, Martu homeland communities and Kiwirrkurra.

Any person who is outside a designated region can only enter if they are:

  • providing essential services or supplies; OR
  • has been quarantined from the general public for the previous 14 days.

If you do not get back to your community in time, you will have to go into quarantine for 14 days before returning home.


Information on buses to get you there and more information on the restrictions can be found  HERE  – scroll down the page to see the list of contact details.

Not sure if your community qualifies?

Within the designated regions and for all remote Aboriginal communities outside these designated regions listed above, the State Government’s Remote Aboriginal Communities Directions will continue to apply.



Posted: March 24th, 2020


The National NAIDOC Committee (NNC) has announced that NAIDOC Week 2020 (5 July -12 July) will be postponed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This decision was made in the interests of safety for their communities after taking advice from the Federal Government, health experts, key partners and leading national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations.

“We all believe that an escalating COVID-19 crisis as we head into winter would have disastrous impacts on our mob – especially for our Elders and those in our communities with chronic health issues.”

Also suspended are the 2020 NAIDOC Local Grants round, which will not be progressed.  No funding will be awarded under the round at this time.

Any information about the 2020 NAIDOC Local Grants Round re-opening will be published on the National Indigenous Australians Agency website, the Agency’s social media pages and on the NAIDOC website.

The Agency will shortly contact those who have already submitted an application. If applications are re-opened for the NAIDOC Local Grants Round you are not expected to re-apply but organisers may need to contact you once they have more information.

If you did not have the opportunity to submit your application and wish to be notified about future arrangements or opportunities to apply, please email

The National NAIDOC Awards to have been held in Alice Springs on 11 July have also be postponed. This means that the nomination process will not go ahead for now.

The NNC will keep communities updated on new dates for the above events once confirmed, but at this stage it is not known when this will be.

For more information contact the NNC here



COVID-19: A message for YMAC Members, clients and community from the CEO

Posted: March 23rd, 2020

As part of community effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and effects of the virus, YMAC has made the decision to partially close offices and have staff work from home for a three week period commencing Monday, 23 March.

Fortunately, as far as we are aware, no YMAC staff member has contracted COVID-19. This decision has not been informed by any specific incidents of COVID-19 among staff, or their contacts. We are taking this step as a precautionary measure to ensure that we look after our members, clients and staff, and the benefits to the broader community.

While the number of staff present in offices will be largely reduced, we will continue to deliver services by phone and email, and will use digital tools and technology whenever possible.

This decision has also been informed by the following larger decisions in the sector:

  1. The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) has cancelled all non-essential travel for staff across Australia and YMAC is following this example.
  2. Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Ben Wyatt MLA this week announced closing access in and out of remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia.
  3. Numerous government agencies, corporations including mining company offices in Perth have already closed offices, with staff working remotely. They have also advised staff to cancel all non-essential travel until further notice.
  4. The Federal Court has advised that it will be vacating all listings and other Court events until the end of June 2020, except for those matters that can be dealt with entirely by phone/video conference.

Regarding point 4, current Federal Court hearings have been vacated, and all other prospective on-Country matters (including consent determinations) have been postponed.

This action will only impact native title work related to a small number of claims, who will be contacted directly by their claim lawyer. Working groups can communicate with their claim group lawyer; staff are looking at innovated ways to progress work with you differently.

Of course, there will be some essential client meetings and meetings among our staff which will need to occur in the ordinary course, consistent with client needs. YMAC will contact you to discuss meeting arrangements which – where possible – will be conducted with everyone’s health and well-being as priority.

If you have any questions about business continuity, please contact staff via their individual email or phone. Please let us know if we should be aware of any requirements you have put in place for your organisation, as we want to ensure the safety and well-being of all.

An alternative way of making contact with each office during business hours is –

Perth:  (08) 9268 7000            Geraldton: (08) 9965 6222         Port Hedland: (08) 9160 3800

Finally, I thank you for your patience during this difficult time, and thank you for your understanding as we work through the best way of handling this unprecedented situation.

Yours sincerely,

Simon Hawkins



Posted: March 17th, 2020


YMAC Land Services team and the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage (DPLH) are in discussion regarding the current form of management orders for Prescribed Bodies Corporate and Aboriginal Corporations.

A common type of tenure that is issued to Aboriginal people is a reserve with a management order. This does not provide land ownership but generally provides a low-cost, non-exclusive tenure option, however with onerous obligations.

YMAC Land Services would love to hear about your experiences with management orders, other land tenure and any conditions that are of particular concern, or difficult to comply with to make these known to DPLH.

If you wish to discuss this further or provide feedback, please email Kylie, Project Manager – Lands at or phone 0458 526 488.

YMAC response to COVID-19 Coronavirus

Posted: March 16th, 2020

Following global concerns surrounding the COVID-19 Coronavirus, YMAC would like to advise our valued clients of actions we are undertaking to support a clean and safe working environment, and in reducing the risk and impact of the virus in our community.

YMAC is daily seeking information from the following trusted sources to inform our actions:

We encourage you to regularly check in to these websites for information and guidance, and regular updates on government response to the Coronavirus.

YMAC response

YMAC knows that many of the communities we work with are particularly vulnerable. Our priority is to reduce the risk to our clients and their communities, and to our staff.

This is a rapidly changing situation and while risk of transmission in Australia remains low, we are following government advice that West Australians should remain alert, but not to be alarmed.

Last week native title representative bodies across Australia have received an update from National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) about its response to COVID-19, and this information is guiding our own decision making.

The NIAA advised they are communicating regularly with agencies such as the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Companies (ORIC), National Native Title Tribunal, and Federal Courts, about the impact of COVID-19 on the native title sector, and the need to be pragmatic and flexible. We will continue to work closely with these agencies to discuss our clients’ needs and what is possible during this time.

We will strive for continuity in delivering our services during this time, and wherever possible will be adapting work practises – or adopting new ones – to suit this unusual situation

Planned meetings and cancellation

Based on how NIAA is proceeding, YMAC has decided to cancel and/or postpone larger meetings beyond 27 March 2020, to reduce health risk to staff, our clients and their communities. Meetings prior to 27 March will proceed, subject to the approval of each group.

Decisions about meetings will be made taking into consideration the circumstances of each group, including if other parties are involved (e.g. proponents, Federal Court).  This is so that all options for the safest way to deliver continued support are explored, whilst also meeting our clients’ legal and corporate obligations.

In the event a meeting will proceed, YMAC staff will liaise with each group about what procedures we will undertake to reduce risk (e.g. larger meeting space to support social distancing, no handshaking or hugs, etc.). Please do note that a meeting may be cancelled at short notice should the COVID-19 situation change.

YMAC Response Plan

A Response Plan is being finalised, with many actions already underway.  These include:

  1. Providing daily updates to staff
  2. Increasing workplace cleanliness measures such as making sure hand sanitiser is available, encouraging social distancing (being 1.5m apart from others), regularly wiping work surfaces with antibacterial cloths.
  3. Requesting all YMAC staff to only undertake essential travel. If a staff member is not comfortable travelling, they will not be forced to do so. Similarly, if a client or client group is not comfortable having a face-to-face meeting, YMAC will consider alternate ways of meeting, or postpone activity where possible.
  4. Monitoring all staff overseas and interstate travel (work and personal) and following government advice by asking people returning from overseas to self-isolate for 14 days. This may also extend to interstate travel should the need arise.
  5. Directing any staff member showing signs of illness to stay home.  Staff are to be tested prior to returning to work if their circumstances show they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
  6. Undertaking a trial of working from home across all office locations this Wednesday 18 March, to test the organisation’s capability to support working from home.
  7. Considering alternate and new ways to deliver our services and support.

Event Cancellations

Yule River July 2020

Regretfully, the 2020 Annual On-Country Bush Meeting at Yule River that YAMC has supported through coordination and logistics for many years will be cancelled for 2020. YMAC will consult with Pilbara Aboriginal Voice and its Regional Committees to develop alternate ways to advocacy on social issues.

April and May National Native Title Council (NNTC) workshops

Workshops and forums scheduled to be delivered by the National Native Title Council in partnership with YMAC in April and May have now been cancelled. New dates will be set in consultation with the NNTC when possible.

New dates for AIATSIS annual conference

On Friday 13 March the co-convenors of the NTC20, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) and NTSCORP made the decision to postpone the National Native Title Conference 2020 to 18 – 21 October 2020, as a result of the changing and widespread impacts of COVID-19.  The conference venue will remain in Tweed Heads, NSW.

NNTC Treaties Summit 2020

The organising partners of the National Treaties Summit have also decided to postpone the Summit scheduled for 16-18 April in Melbourne.  Organisers will be rescheduling dates, and you can contact if you have any questions.

Further information

As a community, it is important we all act to prevent the spread of the virus.

The WA Council of Social Services (WACOSS) has developed some very useful resources and links to assist individuals and community organisations.  To read more on safety precautions, contingency planning and advocacy please click here for the full WACOSS Special Bulletin.

Thank you for your ongoing support.  We will provide updates on our website as they become available.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any queries about YMAC’s services during this time.

Thank you.

Simon Hawkins

Chief Executive Officer

Funding securing ranger futures

Posted: March 11th, 2020


The Federal Government’s commitment to funding Indigenous ranger programs is a great acknowledgement of Traditional Owners’ instrumental role in the conservation and management of Australia’s natural resources.

YMAC is really happy to see certainty for another 7 years, provided to Indigenous rangers who look after nearly 50 percent of Australia’s protected areas. This is an excellent result for existing programs such as the Nyangumarta Ranger and Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) program, now in its fifth year of operation.

In future we hope to see funding available for new projects.

You can read the full release here

SAVE THE DATE – Compensation Information Workshop – 25 March 2020

Posted: March 9th, 2020


In March 2019 the High Court of Australia made its first Native Title compensation decision.

There are many important issues to consider before filing a Native Title compensation claim including whether there are alternatives.

To assist PBCs and Native Title Holders to navigate this complex area, the National Native Title Council (NNTC) in conjunction with YMAC will be running an information workshop.

The workshop will be open to existing Prescribed Bodies Corporates (PBC) and Native Title claim groups where the Federal Court of Australia has set down their claim for a consent determination.

This first information workshop will be held at Gwoonwardu Mia located at 146 Robinson Street, Carnarvon.

To ensure everyone can participate, attendance numbers are limited to 2 people from each PBC Board and Native Title group.

To confirm who will be attending from your group, please contact Renae Jory at to register who your two representatives will be, and to make the necessary travel and accommodation arrangements by Wednesday, 18 March 2020.


Country is our mother, the provider and keeper of cultural belongings. Country and Culture go together. You can’t have one without the other.

Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners and custodians throughout Western Australia, and on whose Country we work. We acknowledge and respect their deep connection to their lands and waterways.

We honour and pay respect to Elders, and to their ancestors who survived and cared for Country.

Our offices are located on Whadjuk Country, Southern Yamatji Country, Yinggarda Country, Kariyarra Country, and Yawuru Country. We recognise the continuing culture, traditions, stories and living cultures on these lands and commit to building a brighter future together.

Disclaimer: Caution: Please be advised that this website may contain images, voices and names of deceased people.

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