Country, Culture, People, Future

Pilbara Region News

Pilbara Aboriginal Voice and Danjoo Koorliny Walking Together Towards 2029 and Beyond – West Pilbara Tour

Posted: May 25th, 2021

YMAC is proud to have been a supporter of the recent Pilbara Aboriginal Voice (PAV) and Danjoo Koorliny West Pilbara Tour.

This important initiative involved the Danjoo Koorliny leadership team, in partnership with and hosted by PAV, travelling up from Perth to visit the West Pilbara region to be shown Country and to workshop ideas for how Western Australia Aboriginal people might move forward together.

The community workshops held as part of this trip provided an opportunity for people to learn more about the Danjoo Koorliny movement and to share their thoughts and aspirations for how people and organisations in the Pilbara can become more involved and what this might all mean for them. Speaking on the value of these sessions, PAV organiser, Sissy Ramirez, said “It is so important for us, as Aboriginal people, to listen to each other, to support each other, and to come together so we can be stronger together.”

Dr Noel Nannup, Danjoo Koorliny leader, added further, “Everyone has a piece of the pathway to the future. We each need to polish our own part and put it together to form a collective path to go forward together. We can’t speak for you. So come and speak for yourselves.”

YMAC very much looks forward to seeing what positive outcomes this partnership will foster into the future.

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PAV is a regional leadership group, nominated and endorsed by the community at the Annual On-Country Bush Meetings at Yule River. The group comprises a collective of representatives from many different language groups from across the region. The objective of PAV is to provide a strong, unified community voice that can influence policy reforms and advise relevant decision-makers on issues affecting Pilbara Aboriginal people. It is PAV’s intention to consult, collaborate, co-design and co-create effective, culturally appropriate solutions to the benefit of all Pilbara Aboriginal people.

For more information about PAV, please visit their website here.

Danjoo Koorliny Walking Together Towards 2029 and Beyond is a bold, long-term, large-scale, Aboriginal-led systems change project to help all of us – be it in Western Australia, the rest of Australia, or around the world – walk together as Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to co-create a better future for all. It is everyone contributing to the journey towards 2029, and beyond. A date that will mark 200 years since colonisation starting in Western Australia. It belongs to no organisation but hovers above all of us and aligns us so that we can care for everything. For generations upon generations.

For more information about Danjoo Koorliny, please visit their website here.

YMAC News Issue 42 available now

Posted: May 7th, 2021

The latest edition of YMAC News is now available on our website. To read it or download it, click here.

Remembering the 1946 Pilbara Strike

Posted: April 20th, 2021

2021 marks the 75th anniversary of the landmark Pilbara pastoral strike which is now recognised as Australia’s longest strike. 

On May 1, 1946 around 800 Aboriginal workers and their families walked off stations across the Pilbara where they were being forced to work. This action was despite great danger and lasted for months following, to protest poor wages and living conditions, and their battle for justice.

They had been disinherited of their land by the squatters and government and forced to work for decades on the stations for meagre rations, and little or no wages; their lives subject to the exploitation and whims of the pastoralists, government agents and legislators.

Many strikers said they lived no better than slaves.

A large number of workers and their families joined the strike during the Port Hedland races weekend in August 1946, after they travelled to the track on the horse trucks and by train. When the races finished, they refused requests by the squatters to return to the stations. Peter Coppin had a gun pulled on him by a policeman during one stand-off. Another strike leader, Ernie Mitchell was arrested but later released.

The legendary Daisy Bindi led around 90 people off Roy Hill station in a courageous quest to join the strike.

How it happened:

The idea to strike was first proposed by Don McLeod, a white miner and fencer who witnessed the treatment of Aboriginal workers and became increasingly disturbed by the inequality and exploitation. He made strong connections with the Aboriginal men working for him, and he paid them good wages for their work. Word spread among station workers about the difference in their treatment and an undercurrent of discontent grew.

McLeod explained the strike concept to a large Law meeting held at Skull Springs in 1942, where it was proposed to hold a mass station walk-off when the Second World War was over. An ingenious plan was hatched to spread the strike date to the station workers. May 1 was chosen because it was International Workers’ Day. This date was marked with a cross on hand-drawn calendars, and secretly delivered to the station workers by Lawmen and strike leaders, Dooley Bin Bin and Clancy McKenna.

What happened?

For three years the strikers endured great hardship, physical danger, violence and threats. There were chainings and gaolings of strikers, including Clancy McKenna and Dooley Bin Bin, and McLeod was fined for ‘inciting natives’.

During this period they set up camps across the Pilbara, including at Two Mile, Four Mile, Twelve Mile (Tjalku Wara) and Moolyella, where families and groups lived and ‘yandied’ or mined for tin and minerals, such as beryl and tantalite, to sell for food and clothing. They also collected and bagged oyster shell along the coast, buffel seed and goats skins to earn enough money to survive.

At the same time as protesting against their treatment by the pastoralists, the strikers were questioning the laws that governed their lives; laws that meant they had no right to marry without permission from the ‘Protector of Natives’, no right to demand wages for their work, no right to education, no right to enter towns after dusk, and no right to vote.

The strikers received moral and financial support for their cause from a number of organisations. Don McLeod enlisted the help of the Communist Party of which he was a member, and the Seamen’s Union which placed a black ban on the loading of wool, putting pressure on the pastoralists to pay a minimum wage to their Aboriginal workers. Churches and women’s Christian groups in Perth also helped raise funds and awareness of the strikers’ purpose. The issue was raised at the United Nations as well.

What was achieved?

The strikers stood firm, and their bravery and determination finally forced changes that helped initiate the restoration and recognition of their basic human rights.

In 1959, the strikers formed two groups – the Nomads and the Mugarinya group – these groups went on to own stations, including Strelley, Warralong and Yandeyarra.

While the strike is recognised as concluding in 1949, there was no official ending. There are people who still claim to be on strike as they never went back to work on the stations.

The strike – sometimes called the ‘Black Eureka’- has been described by Senator Pat Dodson (former Chair of the Council for Reconciliation), as “an important and inspiring milestone in the national battle for justice, rights, equality and recognition for Indigenous people”.

In 2010, the new suburb of ‘Bonner’ (after Senator Neville Bonner) was created in Canberra – it has four street names of some of the famous strikers to honour the 1946 Pilbara station strike – Clancy McKenna Crescent, Dooley Bin Bin Street, Peter Coppin Street, and Don McLeod Lane.

Words from those who led:

“We didn’t live in houses or anything. We had to go down to the creek like kangaroos. We just want to be treated like human beings, not cattle.”[1] Nyangumarta woman and strike leader, the late Daisy Bindi, who led the walk-off from Roy Hill station.

“We want to better ourselves. We just want better conditions…We’ve been working for the Squatters long enough and all we get is a chunk of meat, corned beef, dry bread. We want to walk off all that.”[2] Nyamal Lawman and strike leader, the late Clancy McKenna.

“We lived no better than the cattle but we worked all day for the right to do even that! We were skinny people back then, and we lived through plenty of starvation times. Things are different now but that’s because of the fight we had…that bloody big battle.”[3] Nyamal Lawman and strike leader, the late Peter Coppin.

“We will have hard times, but for our own people, not like now, hard times, for the whitefellas with their cattle stations and sheep stations. We will win.”[4] Nyangumarta Lawman and strike leader, Dooley Bin Bin.

“…the road will be hard and very long, but don’t ever despair. The Police will be against us, the squatters, perhaps Government, and there will be gaol and chains and all sorts of rough times but we can do it.”[5] The miner and fencer, the late Don McLeod, who helped the strikers.

Words from family members:

“When I found our family and took my Mum home to meet everyone, we were so proud to learn about the strike. We heard great stories about the mob working around the Pilbara. I remember our old people saying, ‘We still on strike.’ We can’t  forget their bravery and my grandchildren need to know more of this story.” Rose Murray, Nyangumarta woman, former Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation member.

I think what was remarkable was the way our mob were so super organised – the       bike story is incredible! What’s been handed down to us and our pride in our forefathers and mothers, crosses the Pilbara. It is powerful but quiet – it connects  all the mobs. It drives us forward. Michelle Broun, Yindjibarndi women and curator, Australian First Nations Art, John Curtin Gallery.

YMAC thanks Working Group member, writer and playwright Jolly Read for her contribution to this story.  

Want to know about Anniversary events? 

Join the ‘Remembering the 1946 Pilbara Strike’ Facebook page,

Learn: www.wangkamaya.org.au/pilbara-history-and-culture/01-the-1946-strike 

www.pilbarastrike.org

Quotes referenced from:

[1] https://www.facebook.com/ABCIndigenous/videos/568005010740876/

[2] Somewhere Between Black and White, Kingsley Palmer, Clancy McKenna, The MacMillan Company, 1978

[3] Kangkushot, The Life of Nyamal Lawman, Peter Coppin, ASP- AIATSIS, 1998, Revised 2014.

[4] Yandy, Donald Stuart, Georgian House, Melbourne, 1959.

[5] Ibid.

2021 Leadership WA Foundation Scholarships: Regional Aboriginal Leadership Development

Posted: March 17th, 2021

Applications for the Regional Aboriginal Leadership Development Scholarships’ 2021 ‘Rising Leadership Program’ are currently being accepted (closing Monday, 19 April 2021).

The Regional Aboriginal Leadership Development Scholarships, supported by Lotterywest and the Leadership WA Foundation, are supporting regional Aboriginal participants to attend the ‘Rising Leadership Program’ (consisting of ten one-day workshops to be held between July through December 2021).

The scholarships enable participants to develop leadership skills and capabilities to re-invest back into their local communities. This will create even further positive impact upon regional WA and Aboriginal communities and businesses. In addition, the experiences, skills and cultural insights learned will act to educate and develop fellow cohort members, building further shared understandings.

The ‘Rising Leadership Program’ equips mid-level professionals from all sectors and industries with the tools to become authentic and effective leaders in the workplace. It guides participants on how to build their potential through personal growth, and helps them understand the essential skills required by future leaders. The program aims to provide participants with the frameworks, tools and relevant resources to help them on their journey to becoming effective leaders. This is achieved by introducing practical strategies and theories to develop professional leadership.

Interested ‘Rising Leadership Program’ participants can register via Leadership WA’s application form.

Please note, the Leadership WA Foundation scholarships cover the organisational fee ($7,150), as well as related travel and accommodation costs for participants to travel to Perth to participate in the program. The scholarships do not cover the personal fee ($660), as this represents the applicant’s self-investment. However, this fee can be covered with a payment plan, if required.

If you would like to know more about this opportunity, please visit the program’s webpage, or contact Leadership WA at (08) 6381 6700 or connect@leadershipwa.org.au.

If you would like to know more about other upcoming scholarship and program opportunities offered by Leadership WA, please check out this brochure, or visit their website.

 

Native Title Report 2021

Posted: March 16th, 2021

There is still time to contribute to the Native Title Report 2021 to influence native title reform.

The survey will be open until Friday 19 March.

The Native Title Report 2021 will focus on women’s voices and stories about their experiences in the native title system. The report, which will be tabled in Federal Parliament, will inform the Government in its native title reform agenda as well as those in the sector who play a role in advocating for change.

There are 3 ways to contribute:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with experience in the native title system are invited to complete a survey. The survey will now stay open until 19 March 2021. The survey is smartphone-friendly.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and all other people and organisations with experience and expertise in the native title system are invited to make a submission. This is an opportunity to provide more detailed information than the survey. The guided submission is also open until 19 March 2021.
  • You can also upload your own document as a submission, or email us your comments directly at nativetitle@humanrights.gov.au  There are PDF and Word versions of the submission available on the Have Your Say webpage to assist you if needed.

Western Australian of the Year Awards (nominations close Friday, 26 February).

Posted: February 19th, 2021

Following the postponement of the 2020 awards due to COVID-19, the ‘2021 Western Australian of the Year Awards’ will be acknowledging and celebrating the achievements of Western Australians over the past two years.

These awards recognise outstanding contributions to our state by those born and bred in Western Australia, or those who have chosen to make Western Australia their home, in the following categories:

  • Aboriginal: Presented in celebration of excellence in professional and/or personal achievements at a state, national or international level, contributing to the Western Australian community and recognition as an inspirational role model in the Aboriginal community.
  • Arts & Culture: Presented in celebration of excellence in achievement and/or significant contribution at a state, national or international level to the development, promotion and profiling of arts and culture disciplines in Western Australia.
  • Business: Presented in celebration of excellence and outstanding ethics in business leadership, social entrepreneurship or innovation at a state, national or international level, resulting in major positive social or economic impact in Western Australia.
  • Community: Presented in celebration of excellence in commitment to, and contribution towards, improving the quality of lives in the Western Australian community, at a state, national or international level.
  • Professions: Presented in celebration of excellence resulting in major social, scientific or economic impact at a state, national or international level.
  • Sport: Presented in celebration of excellence in achievement, development or promotion of sport at a state, national or international level, with a focus on contribution to the Western Australian community.
  • Youth: Presented in celebration of excellence in leadership, mentoring or artistic pursuits at a state, national or international level amongst 18 to 30 year olds, positively impacting the lives of Western Australians.

The online process to nominate someone for an award is simple and should take just a few minutes.

You can make nominations online by visiting: https://www.celebratewa.com.au/2021-western-australian-of-the-year-awards/.

Or, alternatively, email celebratewa@celebratewa.com.au, to request a nomination form.

Please note, nominations must be received by Celebrate WA by Friday, 26 February 2021 to be eligible for consideration.

 

CATSI Act Review Final Report

Posted: February 17th, 2021

The review of the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) has been completed, with the final report published on the National Indigenous Australians Agency’s (NIAA’s) website.

The final report reflects the feedback received during the second phase of consultation and makes 72 recommendations outlining changes to the CATSI Act, suggesting further consideration of some aspects of the CATSI Act and identifying additional support that could be provided to corporations incorporated under the CATSI Act.

The Australian Government is considering the Final Report with a view to bringing forward a bill to amend the CATSI Act in due course.

 

Federal Government passes reforms of Native Title Legislation

Posted: February 8th, 2021

The Senate has passed the Native Title Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (the Bill) with a specific date to be announced of when the new measures will commence.

The Bill amends the Native Title  Act 1993 (Native Title Act) and the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) to improve native title claims resolution, agreement-making, Indigenous decision-making and dispute resolution processes, including to:

  1. give greater flexibility to native title claim groups to set their internal processes;
  2. streamline and improve native title claims resolution and agreement-making;
  3. allow historical extinguishment over areas of national and state park to be disregarded where the parties agree;
  4. increase the transparency and accountability of registered native title bodies corporate (RNTBCs); and
  5. create new pathways to address native title-related disputes arising following a native title determination.

Time will be given to ensure that native title claim groups have time to consider the effect of the changes on how their claim will be managed, and to change their internal processes if necessary.

The Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) can provide information, guidance and support around the process to update rule books.

The NIAA will be producing a factsheet on the new requirements which will be made available to RNTBCs and Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs).

The ORIC has also agreed to develop a generic rule book template that native title holders could consider when responding to the new requirements.

Please read the joint media release for further information.

Applications open for Reconciliation Australia’s ‘Indigenous Governance Awards 2021

Posted: February 4th, 2021

Reconciliation Australia’s ‘Indigenous Governance Program’ recognises, supports, and promotes strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander governance and self-determination. More than ever, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and leaders are drawing on 60,000 years plus of First Nations knowledge and culture to adapt to current events with resilience, creativity and decisiveness.

To acknowledge and share such success stories from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations around Australia, each year, Reconciliation Australia runs their ‘Indigenous Governance Awards’. Applying for the awards is a great opportunity to reflect on the governance of your organisation or group and to receive expert advice based on your application (noting, all applications receive feedback from the judging panel).

There are three categories of award for outstanding examples of governance in Indigenous-led:

  • non-incorporated initiatives or projects
  • small to medium incorporated organisations (under $1 million annual revenue)
  • large incorporated organisations ($1 million and over annual revenue)

Category winners will receive $20,000 to assist their organisation, project or initiative, and the highly commended winners in each category will each be awarded $10,000. Additionally, all finalists receive an awards package comprising:

  • A 12-month partnership with a high profile corporate partner, who will provide mentoring and assistance in an area identified by the finalist.
  • An award to commemorate their achievement.
  • Travel for two members from each finalist organisation to attend the awards presentation event.
  • A communications package of photos and footage from the judge’s site visit to their organisation.
  • Promotion as a finalist in the Indigenous Governance Awards on the awards website and other coverage.

YMAC was honoured to have been acknowledged as a finalist in the ‘Indigenous Governance Awards 2018’. You can see more about this here.

Applications for the ‘Indigenous Governance Awards 2021’ are open now and will close on Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

To find out more about the awards, please visit their website here.

Should you need any assistance completing an application, please contact iga@reconciliation.org.au.