Tjiwarl file compensation test case 

[supplied by Tjiwarl]

Tjiwarl Native Title Holders. Image: supplied

On 17 June 2020, two compensation claims were filed in the Federal Court on behalf of the Tjiwarl Native Title Holders.

 

The extinguishment and impairment claims together cover over 7,800 square kilometres in the Northern Goldfields region of Western Australia.

 

The claims seek compensation for acts done by the Western Australian government and mining companies which have impacted on Tjiwarl native title rights and interests but for which compensation has never been paid.

 

Importantly, the case will emphasise the substantial impact that mining and other activities have had on the Tjiwarl Native Title Holders’ culture, custom and heritage.

 

The Tjiwarl community has lost significant cultural sites that formed part of rituals, custom and the dreaming that has been handed down through many generations.

 

The environment and landscape have been irreversibly impacted with no regard for the special value that it holds for the Tjiwarl Native Title Holders.

 

Brett Lewis, Chairperson of Tjiwarl Aboriginal Corporation and Native Title Holder said “Our claim goes further than the Timber Creek case. Tjiwarl is also seeking compensation for impairment of our rights. Many of us are still on country looking after Tjukurrpa (dreaming) sites. We can’t access all of the areas and this causes a lot of shame for our people because we can’t meet our cultural responsibilities.”

 

Tjiwarl Native Title Holders are seeking compensation for activities such as:

  • The development of segments of the Goldfields Highway;

  • Gravel pits and water bores;

  • Segments of the Goldfields Gas Pipeline;

  • The renewal of pastoral leases in 2015 to extend their term and therefore their ongoing impact on native title;

  • The creation of certain pastoral leases after 1975;

  • Various mining projects (some of which have been the subject of Aboriginal Heritage Act section 18 consents and vegetation clearing permits);

  • Ground water licences to take water for mining projects.

 

Greg Ryan-Gadsden, CEO of Tjiwarl Aboriginal Corporation, said “Recent events have demonstrated that little consideration is given to the special value of Aboriginal culture and heritage. Mining and infrastructure project developers need to appropriately compensate for the impacts that they have which prevent Native Title Holders from exercising their native title rights and interests on their country.

 

"This is a landmark case that will guide compensation negotiations with Native Title Holders across the country. The State and mining companies understand they have a liability for compensation and sorting this out will provide certainty for everyone.”

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