Collective effort initiates Indigenous land management in WA’s Midwest

[November 2015] 

Representatives from 11 Midwest-based organisations came together to discuss the development of Indigenous land management in the Midwest at a workshop held in Geraldton in September.

The workshop was organised by Bundiyarra Aboriginal Corporation and supported by Rangelands NRM and the Northern Agricultural Catchment Council (NACC). 

Participants included Bundiyarra Aboriginal Corporation, Bush Heritage Australia, Department of Fire and Emergency Services, Department of Parks and Wildlife, Durack Institute of Technology, Gondwana Link Karara Mining, Mid-West Aboriginal Employment and Economic Development, Midwest Development Commission, Northern Agricultural Catchment Council, Pollinators, Rangelands NRM, Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation (YMAC), and community representatives. 

Facilitated by Dr Hamish Morgan of IN-COMMON, the meeting allowed the organisations and individuals to share knowledge and experience in the region and similar areas, and built support and commitment for the development of an Indigenous land management program in the Midwest.  

Bundiyarra Director Richard Nelly, provided the inspiring vision for the meeting: to establish a Midwest Yamatji Rangers program. 

He pointed out that all other regions in Western Australia have successful Indigenous land management programs with the exception of the Midwest.

The meeting involved participants in considering this challenge.  

“The potential to create the conditions for change and to deliver strong social, economic and environmental outcomes across 21 regional communities and 472,000 square kilometers was motivating to say the least,” said Mr Nelly. 

“There was resounding positivity and a strong sense that change and innovation was possible, required and achievable.”

Focus areas of the workshop included:

  • enabling change and providing the conditions to collaborate and work together for common economic, social and environmental goals across the region 
  • providing leadership to enable multiple land managers to work together for shared interest across mining, farming, pastoral and conservation land uses
  • how to enable effective collaboration and vision that can lead to landscape scale change and provide innovation in the rangelands and in regional and remote communities. 

The workshop also heard inspiring and innovative presentations from:

  • Bush Heritage Australia’s Executive Manager, West, Luke Bayley who talked about regional collaboration and their approach to supporting Indigenous land management
  • Pollinators’ Community Lead, Andrew Outhwaite, who spoke on collaboration, innovation and collective change-making
  • Gondwana Link’s Program Manager Peter Price, on the Ngadju land management program and a cooperative approach to large-scale conservation in the Great Western Woodlands
  • YMAC’s Project Coordinator Land and Sea Management, Jose Kalpers talking about the development of the Ngangumatta Indigenous Protected Area and their collaborative approach to conservation and Indigenous land management.

A working group has been formed to progress and enable the project.