Country, Culture, People, Future

Frequently Asked Questions

Why become a YMAC member?
YMAC membership is free and open to all Yamatji and Marlpa people over the age of 18, even if you don’t live in our Pilbara or Yamatji regions. Show More
Many people are part of a native title claim represented by YMAC – but are not YMAC members. Becoming a member, and following your native title determination, is a great way to have a say in your land council and keep up to date on native title matters.

As a member you can speak and vote at the relevant Annual Regional Meeting, learn more about what’s happening at YMAC and ask questions to the Board of Directors, Regional Committee and Executive Management Team. You can also be nominated or elected to the relevant Regional Committee and Board of Directors.

Members also receive important news and updates about YMAC’s work and native title matters in our regions.

Download a YMAC membership form or call our Geraldton, Hedland, Carnarvon or Perth offices. The membership form requires the names of your spouse, parents and grandparents, which allows the Regional Committee and Board to verify you are a Yamatji or Marlpa person. You also need a YMAC member from the same region (or “class”) to nominate you by signing the form. Membership applications are considered at Regional Committee meetings and then submitted to the Board for endorsement. Show Less
How can I get more involved in the decisions that affect my native title claim?
There are several ways for Traditional Owners to get involved in their native title claim. Show More
  • Important decisions about the claim are made at community meetings. All members of a native title claim are invited to community meetings for their claim and asked to participate in making group decisions.
  • Working group members are chosen by the community. The working group makes many day-to-day decisions about claim business. It is the responsibility of all working group members to keep their families and other members of the claim informed about what is going on.
  • All YMAC members are invited to attend Annual Regional Meetings to discuss and ask questions about YMAC’s operations. Any eligible YMAC member may nominate for election to the Regional Committee.
For more information, download YMAC’s Community Guide or see the “Our Structure” page Show Less
Where does the money from heritage surveys go?
YMAC is a not-for-profit organisation and does not receive Government funding to protect Aboriginal heritage. YMAC’s cultural heritage services are supported entirely through cost recovery from companies and developers. Show More
YMAC is a not-for-profit organisation and does not receive government funding to protect Aboriginal heritage. YMAC’s cultural heritage services are supported entirely through cost-recovery from companies and developers. Fees charged for Traditional Owners on survey are paid directly to Traditional Owners. Administration fees pay for YMAC’s costs to organise surveys such as staff, rent, telephones and stationery. Any additional funds generated are put back into native title and other activities within the organisation’s objectives. Where does the money from heritage surveys go?
  • The above chart is based on the 2010-11 financial year.
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Does YMAC make money from heritage surveys and agreement negotiations?
YMAC is a not-for-profit organisation. A significant amount of YMAC’s funding comes from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC). Show More
Some of YMAC’s services, like heritage survey coordination and large-scale agreement negotiation, are not provided for by our funding from DPMC. YMAC provides these services by charging the companies who use them. Any additional funds generated by these services are put back into YMAC’s native title work. For more information, please download our latest annual report. Show Less
Who sees the information my family provides to YMAC?
YMAC never makes any cultural information public without the permission of the appropriate Traditional Owners. Show More
Much of the information collected by YMAC for the purposes of trial preparation, Connection Reports and supporting material is very sensitive for cultural or family reasons. YMAC takes its responsibility to keep information confidential very seriously. However, in order to assess the native title claim, certain people within YMAC, including anthropologists and lawyers, as well as people working for the State Government, need to see sensitive information that has been provided by traditional owners. If a claim goes to trial, some people in the Federal Court will also need to see all of the information, including the Judge. YMAC ensures that any cultural information that is gender-restricted (secret men’s or women’s knowledge) is only seen by people of the appropriate gender. If the court orders an exception to that rule, the Traditional Owners get to decide whether to allow the information to be seen or withdraw it. Show Less
What is a connection report and where does it go?
A connection report is given to the State Government as evidence of a native title claim group’s connection to country. It is required by the State before it will agree to work towards resolving a native title claim by agreement (instead of going to court). Show More
A connection report is given to the State Government as evidence of a native title claim group’s connection to country. It is required by the State before it will agree to work towards resolving a native title claim by agreement (instead of going to court). A connection report needs to be authored by a qualified professional, usually an anthropologist, and it includes information about a group’s history, rules of membership, law and custom, and cultural knowledge. It is often accompanied by other materials like videos, photographs, genealogies (family trees) and site maps. Once it is given to the State Government, their experts read it carefully and then come to a decision whether or not to accept that the claim group has native title. For more information about connection reports, the research process, and the State’s assessment process, download a copy of YMAC’s community guide or view the WA State Government’s connection guidelines. Show Less
What does a native title determination get you?
A native title determination is recognition under Australian law that Aboriginal people are the Traditional Owners of the land and had a system of law and ownership of their land before European settlement. Show More
Common examples of rights that are recognised in a determination are:
  • The right to protect sites
  • The right to access or hunt on country
  • The right to camp or live on the land
  • The right to hold ceremonies
  • The right to have a say in the management or development of the land
Native title gives the right to negotiate over mining leases and certain infrastructure projects. It does not give the right to veto or a refuse a mining lease. A native title determination does not give ownership of the land (see above, ‘How is native title different to land rights?’) The rights that are recognised depend on what rights have existed under traditional law. Every native title claim group has to list the rights that they are claiming, so it is slightly different for each group. The existing rights of other people, companies or governments affect what is included. In some areas, the native title holders may have exclusive rights, while in other areas, rights to the land are shared with others, such as leaseholders, miners, pastoralists, or the State Government. Show Less
How is native title different from land rights?
Western Australia does not have a land rights scheme in place. Show More
Land rights involve State, Territory or Commonwealth Governments granting land to a group of Aboriginal people. The land is usually held by a community as freehold or a perpetual lease. There are usually restrictions on selling the land so that it is passed down to future generations. Most states and territories have their own land rights laws with different processes and rules.   Native Title does not involve the government granting land to Aboriginal people, it is the Federal Court recognising Traditional Owners’ rights to the land that have always existed. Those rights must come from connection to country and traditional customs dating back to the time of European settlement Native Title exists alongside the rights of other people in the same area, such as pastoralists, lease holders, and public access rights, while land rights usually give the holders much more exclusive rights. Show Less

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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