Why was Wirlu-murra Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (WMYAC) established?

WMYAC was started because the elders, the rightful custodians of our land, and many other Yindjibarndi people wanted a voice. We wanted to make our own decisions that would build a better future for all Yindjibarndi people.  

Wirlu-murra group had its own vision and felt that in order to set things right and in order for our ideas and our voices to be heard we needed a new opportunity and a fresh start which is why we set up Wirlu murra.

We want to use that knowledge of our people and elders to move forward and to create opportunities and deliver lasting results for the Yindjibarndi community. We want to create positive paths for our younger generations.

How many members does Wirlu-murra have?

WMYAC has nearly 300 members, most live in Roebourne. A number of members also live around Australia including Broome, Carnarvon, South Hedland, Ceduna and Alice Springs. They’re spread out through marriage but they are all Yindjibarndi people.

What does Wirlu-murra want to achieve?

Our vision is for family and the community to walk together united to strive for a better future. We have five key priorities for the Yindjibarndi people:

· Creating employment, education and training opportunities for our members;

· Ensuring members have access to long term and sustainable housing;

· Creating opportunities to connect people, particularly youth, to country;

· Demonstrating leadership and delivering community development outcomes for our members and the wider community;

· Ensuring sustainability of our corporation through good governance, sound financial management and the communication and participation of our members and other stakeholders.

We want our community, especially the younger generations to be proud of themselves and what they do .

Why did you split from the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation?

We formed Wirlu-murra because we believe our voices were not being heard and that it was being left to one or two people when important decisions were being made. We wanted the right to be part of the negotiation and decision-making process without fear of intimidation.

We felt that the opinions of some did not properly represent all Yindjibarndi people. People in the community didn’t feel they were supported, we started Wirlu-murra so the elders could have a voice when it came to negotiating with mining companies and making decisions for ourselves.

The elders never used to get up and speak. All the directors of the Wirlu-murra corporation get up and speak now, we all have a voice and are free to say whatever we want.

Why does Wirlu-murra support the relationship with FMG?

We have seen other mining companies that have been here before and nothing has been done about getting our locals into a job. When FMG came along with their agreement it was hit on the head twice. Then Wirlu-murra picked it up and saw there was an opportunity for us.

We think that a good working relationship with companies such as FMG will provide a good future for our people. We have to take advantage of the opportunity. We can build on that, and we have built on that by getting our own heritage survey work to build up Wirlu-murra.

We want to provide opportunities for our people through jobs, training and housing not just giving us money. That’s a philosophy which is supported by FMG and they have demonstrated their commitment to initiatives that promote employment opportunities for Aboriginal people. We want our children and their children to have jobs, to feel good about themselves. We’re hoping to see people wanting to work, to have the self-esteem to get up and go, to have the motivation and feel supported and we think that can happen through partnerships with FMG and other mining companies.

Wirlu murra believe that it’s important that our young people understand what it is to work hard and to earn what you work hard for so that you can appreciate things.

What are the main benefits that would flow to the Yindjibarndi people from the relationship with FMG?

Wirlu Murra’s working relationship with FMG gives the community opportunities for jobs and training, housing and real opportunities for the future generations in Roebourne.

The value is not in the ultimate dollar terms, but what it might look like in 5 or 10 years time. It’s about intent and committing to something, that’s the true value in an agreement.

It’s not about sitting back and collecting money each year because you are entitled to it, but instead to create opportunities for our young people, as they are the ones who are going to live with the legacy of what we do today.

We think the relationship with FMG and other companies will help to achieve our goals for finding employment, housing assistance, creating business, supporting elders, connecting young people with the country, all these things that will enable us to keep our family groups together.

Is Wirlu-murra being funded by FMG?

Many organisations that are within native title are funded by mining companies, it’s not new. In fact the Native Title Act and the Aboriginal Heritage Act require companies to build relationships with indigenous people and organisations.

Wirlu-murra certainly wasn’t established to negotiate specifically with FMG, we are in negotiations with several companies – including catering and road maintenance contractors - with a view to forming profitable joint venture agreements with them. For example, Brierty has recently supplied WMYAC with a vehicle and are supporting the organisation to develop a transport business.

We have a heritage business now for Wirlu-murra, it’s earning money for this group, and that allows us to do more things.

Why is Wirlu-murra taking legal action against YAC?

This is a last resort but we have concerns about what we believe are serious corporate governance issues related to YAC. For that reason we have begun action in the WA Supreme Court to have the matters resolved

We want to set right what’s been done wrong. YAC knows now that Wirlu-murra aren’t going to go away or be intimidated anymore.

We hope there is an end soon because we just want to get on with business, we want to get on with living our lives and looking after our kids.