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Three uranium deposits - Ranger, Jabiluka and Koongarra – were never included in the Park's original boundaries.
Senior Traditional Owner Yvonne Margarula says that with mining: "The promises never last but the problems always do".
As is documented in Dirt Cheap 30 years on Yvonne Margarula’s father - the then Mirarr Senior Traditional Owner Toby Gangale - opposed plans for uranium exploration and mining on his country in the 1970s. His opposition, along with that of other local Aboriginal people, was overruled by the Federal Government when it legislated for the development of the Ranger Uranium Mine in 1976. Ranger commenced operations in 1980, the mine is now run by Energy Resources Australia (ERA) which is majority owned by Rio Tinto.
As traditional landowners, the Mirarr bear responsibility for the impacts that activity on their land has on others. The possibility of uranium from Mirarr land being incorporated into a nuclear weapon or present at the site of a nuclear accident is therefore of enormous concern to Mirarr. Despite assurances from successive federal governments that Australian uranium is only sold to nations where there is no risk of proliferation, the fact remains that there are insufficient safeguards to ensure Australian uranium does not end up in nuclear weapons.
In April 2011, following the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster in Japan, Yvonne Margarula wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon and expressed her sorrow at the impacts radiation is having on the lives of Japanese people. She noted that, ‘it is likely that the radiation problems at Fukushima are, at least in part, fuelled by uranium derived from our traditional lands. This makes us feel very sad.’ It has since been confirmed by Dr Robert Floyd, Director General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, that, “Australian obligated nuclear material was at the Fukushima Daiichi site”.
All mining and processing at Ranger must conclude by January 2021. Rio Tinto and ERA then have a five year peroid in which they are required to rehabilitate the site to a standard such that it could be incorporated into the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park. It is of the very highest priority for the Mirarr that this rehabilitation task is undertaken comprehensively and in a way that ensures the Mirarr and the Kakadu region are not left with the toxic legacy that Toby Gangale predicted when he said no to Ranger over four decades ago.
An ‘agreement’ for a second uranium mine on Mirarr country, at Jabiluka, was concluded in 1982 amid great controversy. The validity of the 1982 agreement is contested by the Mirarr, who maintain it was negotiated under extreme duress.
In the late 1990s ERA attempted to mine Jabiluka and the Mirarr initiated and lead a major national and international campaign against the development. The campaign was run both on environmental grounds as well as in recognition of the rights of the Traditional Owners. The campaign involved an eight-month blockade of the site by over 5000 peaceful protesters, two federal parliamentary inquiries, a high-level UNESCO mission to Kakadu, resolutions of the European Parliament and US Congress, significant national and international media coverage, and the receipt of major international awards for Yvonne Margarula and Jacqui Katona in recognition of their role in environmental and cultural protection. To date the Jabiluka uranium deposit has not been mined. Energy Resources of Australia has rehabilitated the site in consultation with the Mirarr.
In 2005 the Mirarr and ERA entered into an agreement that quarantined the Jabiluka dispute by stating that mining may only proceed with the written consent of the Mirarr Traditional Owners. This agreement gave meaningful effect to policies of corporate social responsibility for sustainable development especially with respect to the rights of Indigenous peoples.
Over the years of the Jabiluka campaign the Mirarr remained firm in their resistance to unwanted development despite persistent pressure and confidence from the government and mining company that a mine at Jabiluka was inevitable. In their struggle to protect their country and culture Traditional Owners made it crystal clear that Jabiluka was not a sustainable option for one of the world’s largest resource companies. The outcome at Jabiluka demonstrates the role that Indigenous people everywhere should be able to have in determining what happens to their country and their community.
The former Koongarra Project Area (KPA) lies within the traditional lands of the Djok clan and is a region of approximately 12,000 hectares. Until February 2013 Koongarra was excluded from the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park, which completely surrounds the area. The uranium deposit is very close to the world famous Nourlangie rock where thousands of visitors view ancient rock art every year. The area is important in traditional storylines that include the Rainbow Serpent and Lightning Man. It is also home to an estimated 15,000 tonnes of high grade uranium which the French nuclear and mining giant Areva has been trying to access and develop for several decades.
Jeffrey Lee Senior Traditional Owner of the Djok clan, speaks for Koongarra. Jeffrey has long resisted Areva's promises of wealth and remained firm in his commitment to care for the land. In 2010 Jeffrey Lee asked the Federal Government to protect Koongarra by including it within Kakadu, stating at the time: "When you dig a hole in that country you are killing me. I don't worry about money at all." The Government promised to honour his wishes and three years later, it did. The area is now permanently protected from uranium mining and included within the National Park.
The Mirarr have a company clan relationship with the Djok and have supported Jeffrey in his efforts to protect his country from mining.
Watch Jeffrey Lee talking about his efforts to protect his country from uranium mining.
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The Mirarr established Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) in 1995 to assist them in managing a balance between sustainable development, traditional practice and living culture on their land.
GAC represents the rights and interests of the Mirarr as well as receiving, distributing and investing royalties from the Ranger uranium mine which was imposed on Mirarr land in 1978.
GAC is run by a Mirarr board, it provides services and support for Mirarr members and other Bininj (Aboriginal people) affected by the Ranger Mine in line with cultural obligations.
GAC works to ensure the cultural and economic future of the Mirarr is secure and stable. This work falls into five broad categories:
GAC’s vision for the welfare of the Mirarr extends well beyond the current projected end of the Ranger uranium mine in 2026.
GAC is responsible for a range of facilities and businesses in addition to the main office: Djidbidjidbi Residential College, the Community Centre, Marrawuddi Gallery, Bowali Cafe, the post office and the newsagency.
Gundjeihmi runs many cultural and community programs and engages with strategy, policy and management across several issues including land and cultural rights, environment and conservation, mining, education, health, child protection, retail and tourism.
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Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation
|About Us||The Mirarr are Traditional Owners of parts of Kakadu National Park, the Ranger and Jabiluka uranium deposits and parts of Western Arnhem Land in Australia’s Northern Territory.||true||Show|
Kakadu is Australia’s largest national park, 250km west of Darwin and east of the vast Arnhem Land plateau.
This living culture stretches back thousands of years as can be seen in numerous prehistoric rock art paintings, as well as dreaming tracks and sites of cultural significance.
Age-old stories have been handed down from tens of thousands of years ago to the present day.
Aboriginal people have lived continuously in the area now known as Kakadu for over 60,000 years and the region contains one of Australia’s oldest sites of human occupation.
By comparison, British occupation is recent, dating back to the 1890s.
Even by Australian standards this is a short time, spanning only five or six generations.
Roads, the township of Jabiru, mines, airstrips and the national park are even more recent additions, arriving from the 1970s onwards.
These big changes to the cultural and economic landscape of Kakadu pose big challenges for Bininj (local Aboriginal people).
Ensuring that Bininj derive lasting benefit from these changes is a key role for the GAC.
Balanda (European Australians) see three tropical seasons in the top end - the monsoonal ‘wet’, the ‘dry’ and the (humid) ‘build-up. However local Aboriginal people (Bininj) see six seasons with distinct weather and biological patterns.
Gudjewg – monsoon season
These varied weather patterns account for Kakadu‘s diverse landscapes which include tidal flats, mangrove forests, floodplains, billabongs, savannah woodlands, monsoon forests and sandstone escarpments.
This rich biodiversity means Kakadu literally hums with bird and animal life, many species here which are found nowhere else in the world.
Kakadu National Park received World Heritage listing from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1981 due to its outstanding cultural and natural features.
It is Australia’s largest national park, representing an extraordinary array of cultural and ecological features.
Mirarr cultural practices are resilient and dynamic, forming an ongoing and strong bond between past practices and contemporary life.
Mirarr have important obligations and responsibilities to look after country (gunred) and people (guhpleddi).
Mirarr speak an average of three Aboriginal languages plus English with Gundjeihmi (pronounced kund-jate-me) being the most widely spoken language.
Kakadu’s complex and detailed rock art galleries are one of the values cited by UNESCO in its World Heritage listing.
|email@example.com||Kakadu is a vibrant, thriving cultural landscape. For the Mirarr it is firstname.lastname@example.org||Kakadu is a vibrant, thriving cultural landscape. For the Mirarr it is home.||false||Show|
|DjidbiDjidbi Residential College||2017/07/05/o2vh0nuk5_Davis_Nabarnadi_Shelton_Nango_and_Ralph_Nadjamerrik.jpg||Davis Nabarnadi, Shelton Nango and Ralph Nadjamerrik.jpg||2017/07/05/7tolyoyx6e_Culture_First_Class_undertakes_field_work_with_ANU_rock_art_researchers.jpg||Culture First Class undertakes field work with ANU rock art researchers.jpg||false||Show|
Mirarr country is a stunning place. Most Mirarr land is within the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park including the vibrant wetlands of the Jabiluka billabong country and the stunning sandstone escarpment of Djidbidjidbi (Mount Brockman). The Mirarr estate extends beyond Kakadu to Western Arnhem Land and also includes the Ranger uranium mine, the Jabiluka mineral lease and the mining town of Jabiru.
Mirarr speak an average of three Aboriginal languages plus English. Of these languages the Kundjeyhmi language is the dominant tongue (pronounced kund-jate-me).
Yvonne Margarula lives on Mirarr country and is regularly called upon to make decisions in consultation with other Mirarr on an extraordinary range of issues affecting Aboriginal people of the Kakadu region.
Mirarr established Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) in 1995 represent their rights and interests.
In accordance with customary law and tradition Mirarr have obligations and responsibilities to other Bininj affected by Mirarr decisions about Mirarr country.
|2015/01/27/7g2i6tp5eq_gac_tile.jpg||gac tile.jpg||The Mirarr are the Traditional Aboriginal (Bininj) Owners of lands in the north of Australia’s Northern Territory||2015/01/27/99xwyjvjx0_gac_tile.jpg||gac tile.jpg||The Mirarr are the Traditional Aboriginal (Bininj) Owners of lands in the north of Australia’s Northern Territory.||false||Show|
Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) is governed by a board structure.
All members of GAC are Mirarr Traditional Owners and members elect board directors from the membership at the Annual General Meeting.
The board directs the day-to-day running of GAC which is managed by the Chief Executive Officer and staff
The Board meets regularly to discuss and make strategic decisions about the long term direction and activities of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation.
Board members respond to an extraordinary range of requests and issues relating to Mirarr land and the region.
Mirarr engage their long time associate Murray Garde as interpreter for many discussions
|2015/01/27/9cvvd0dcl8_board.jpg||board.jpg||All decisions about the strategic direction of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation are made by the Mirarr board.||2017/06/30/8jrnbobgk5_GAC_board_2017.jpg||GAC board 2017.jpg||false||Show|
|Overview - Current Focus||
The Gunbang Action Group (GAG) is a voluntary coalition of community, business and government agencies. Its focus is on reducing risks arising from alcohol and other drug use in the Kakadu region. It works in partnership with the local Aboriginal people.
The GAG has formal responsibility for:
The last GAG meeting was held on 31 January 2018. Some of the matters discussed were:
Further details can be obtained by contacting GAG via details below.
The next GAG meeting is scheduled for 18 April 2018.
The Gunbang Action Group can be contacted by telephone on 08 89792200 / 0401114144 or at email email@example.com.
This website is supported by the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation and seeding funds from Alcohol Strategy and Policy, Northern Territory Government.
In 1995 key stakeholders from the community joined together to work at reducing the negative impact of alcohol in the Kakadu/West Arnhem region. The group has continued as the Gunbang Action Group (GAG) - gunbang being the local Aboriginal word for alcohol.
Since the Northern Territory Emergency Intervention, GAG has been more focused on issues in the Kakadu area. Other areas decided to establish their own local structures. GAG stays informed of developments in neighbouring communities (e.g. Gunbalanya) and tries to coordinate with initiatives in those other areas as much as possible.
The GAG is recognised as a significant stakeholder in activities relating to alcohol and other substance use in the region. While the Park Director must approve conditions governing the sale of alcohol in Kakadu National Park, the Park Management Plan identifies GAG as a key organisation that must be consulted in the process.
The membership of GAG comprises government departments and local community and business interests. It meets every two to three months. The current member organisations include:
The Chair of GAG is selected from the membership and different organisations have filled the position over time. The current Chair is Justin O'Brien from the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation.
Over the years the GAG has tried various approaches to engage with local Bininj, to ensure they are part of the decision-making process. It is fundamental to the GAG that the Aboriginal people living in the area have an avenue for raising issues and concerns and for suggesting actions to minimise harms from alcohol and other drugs. The current system is based on consultative visits to each outstation and an open invitation sent to a number of Bininj to attend each GAG meeting.
|Alcohol Management Plan||
Based on extensive community consultation and research (see d’Abbs et al and Crundall), the GAG adopted a regional Alcohol Management Strategy in 2010. Comprising a range of strategies, it was designed to achieve three major goals:
More responsible alcohol supply
There is a Summary of the Strategy. A majority of the initial recommendations have been completed. While work continues on implementing the remaining measures, a number have been varied as circumstances and events in the region have changed. The Plan remains a live document.
Key Activity Update and News
There are several elements now in place or being examined to help improve alcohol management in the area.
A local Liquor Accord has been signed off as an agreement between licensees in Jabiru and at Cooinda and South Alligator, Police, Gambling and Licensing Services, the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation and the Gunbang Action Group. It is designed to eliminate anti-social behaviour at licensed premises and enhance the enjoyment of patrons as a result. The Accord contains a number of provisions dealing with safety and security, the responsible service of alcohol, public amenity and patron conduct.
The last meeting of the Accord members was 3 December 2015.
In 2013 the Northern Territory Government introduced Alcohol Protection Orders (APO). These can be applied by Police to any person who is intoxicated and commits an offence that has a penalty of at least six months imprisonment. An APO prohibits a person from entering a licensed permises, as well as purchasing, possessing or consuming alcohol. If a person supplies alcohol to an individual known to be on an APO then that person can also be charged with an offence.
The initial prohibition is for three months, with any breaches extending the time and increasing possible fines. A person subject to an APO can be checked by Police at any time to see whether he or she has been drinking or is in possession of alcohol.
Further details about the operation of APO's can be found at the Police website: www.pfes.nt.gov.au/Police/Community-safety/Alcohol-protection-orders.aspx. A Fact Sheet and Frequently Asked Questions are available at the site.
A Ban System for misbehaviour is also in place. The Liquor Act allows licensees to ban patrons from their premises. A local system has operated in Kakadu for a number of years to bring a coordinated approach to banning individuals across all licensed premises in Kakadu. This Banning Framework has been reviewed and updated. It is now incorporated into the Liquor Accord.
To support the ban system, a local photographic ID has been developed and is available to Bininj people who live permanently in the region. It is the West Arnhem ID Card. This is an alternative form of identification that can be presented at local licensed premises. The card includes a photograph, person’s name, address, date of birth and signature. This is useful for people who do not have a driver’s license, a Proof of Age card or some other standard form of identification.
Attention is now being focused on developing Alcohol Managment Plans for each of the Homelands. This approach should help build greater local responsibility for alcohol use, as communities will set objectives to be reached and decide on actions they will take to improve health and safety. An audio that explains the processes and responsibilities involved with an Alcohol Management Plan in both the local Kunwinjku language and English is available at https://sound.cloud.com/nakardbam/alcohol-action-plan-kunwinjku-english.
The Men's Shed established through the Jabiru Health Clinic is now operating on a limited basis. The facility has been painted and refurbished, but is still seeking more equipment and materials for its programs. A holistic health session (incorporating lifestyle skills, health promotion, chronic diseases, alcohol and other drugs, etc) is being planned and will soon be advertised for men to attend. More information can be obtained from the coordinators, Sampson Henry and Jeremy Coaby, who can be contacted at the clinic.
|West Arnhem ID Card||
An alternative form of identification is now available for people living in the West Arnhem area. The West Arnhem ID card shows a photograph of the card holder and his or her name, address, date of birth and signature. The card can be used at licensed premises and for managing accounts at the Jabiru branch of Westpac.
These cards do not replace other legitimate forms of ID (e.g. Driver’s License, Proof of Age), but they offer an option for those who have no ID or those who need an alternative. They are available to any Bininj resident aged 15 or more living in the region.
Applications can be made at Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation. No cost is involved. Individuals must bring evidence of who they are and where they live: this may be copies of birth certificates and other documents or, if these are not handy, then statutory declarations from selected authorities. Evidence must satisfy a 100 point test. More details can be obtained from Gundjeihmi on 08 89792200.
Cards must be renewed every two years. People already with a card can simply present themselves for a new one that will last into 2017. If all details are correct this can be done immediately.
People who are visiting Kakadu from other parts of West Arnhem can apply for a card, but they must have the right documentation with them - proof of who they are and proof of where they usually live. People should make sure they have the right information with them before arriving in Jabiru.
People who come into a community because they have a job can get a card quicker if they bring a signed letter from their employer to confirm their employment details and residential address.
If a person arrives with the intention of staying for an extended period of time but is without work, a Confirmation of New Resident form must be completed and signed in addition to other necessary paperwork. The local resident who is prepared to vouch for the person shifting permanently to a known address must attend at the time of the application. False or misleading statements will lead to loss of access to a West Arnhem ID card for both.
The cards have been fully developed and supported by the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation. Additional funding has been provided by the Community Benenfit Fund of the Northern Territory Government.
|Community Safety Plan||
To improve safety in over 50 Aboriginal community settings across the Northern Territory, the Police have initiated the development and implementation of Community Safety Plans. These are being designed to respond to local priorities and take into account local circumstances. One has been put in place for Kakadu.
In recognition of the role that alcohol and other substances can have on the safety and wellbeing of people and because of the broad nature of its membership, the Gunbang Action Group has agreed to be the local Community Safety Committee to oversight this project.
An Action Plan has been operating since the start of 2014. It sets out specific issues of concern and how they might be addressed. The Plan is continually reviewed and amended to make sure its goals and activities are responsive to changing local conditions and needs.
The Plan relates to all of Kakadu but is particularly aimed at supporting Aboriginal people. It emphasises the importance of cultural diversity in seeking solutions to problems, ensuring all community members have the opportunity to contribute to solutions and maintaining mutual respect in working together.
A variety of strategies is being implemented, with the latest update occurring in late 2017 and endorsement in January 2018.
People are invited to highlight issues and concerns they want addressed and to offer solutions and ideas about whata else might be done to improve the safety and amenity of the community. Individuals can contact Police or GAG directly / anonymously to provide feedback and input.
|VSA Management Plan||
Volatile Substance Abuse (VSA) is a significant and devastating health and social problem. Petrol sniffing is the most common form of inhalant abuse in the Territory and outbreaks have occurred in Kakadu. Other volatile substances susceptible to abuse include glues, paints, solvents and the like.
A local VSA Management Plan was prepared in 2012. Extensive community consultations were undertaken in two stages. The first canvassed individuals and organisations about the kind of strategies that might be included in the Plan. These were then sorted a final round of consultation was undertaken to ensure there was consensus for the final suite of measures to be proposed.
The Northern Territory Government declared the Management Area in May 2013 and the VSA Management Plan was finally gazetted two months later. The Plan is now in force.
The Plan sets out rules and guidelines for residents and visitors to follow with respect to the possession, sale and supply, use and storage of volatile substances.
The Management Area is within the external boundaries of the National Park.
A package of community education promotions has been produced as a DVD. It delivers key messages about alcohol and other drug use via songs, music and scripted scenarios.
Some of the songs come from young Aboriginal people who spent time at a workshop during school holidays. They shared stories about how drinking in particular had brought changes to their world. They reflected, for example, that there was now less hunting and more fighting going on. They wanted to send a message to the older generations - one that would make them think more about the effect they were having on their children and their families.
Children aged 6-17 took part over the fortnight. They came from various homelands around Jabiru. With guidance and support from visiting musicians at the Community Centre, these young people worked up several songs. They chose the style for each song, added the words, created the beats and took charge of the microphone. Two of the songs are The Jabiru Song and Where Did It Come From?
The DVD also presents three advertisements produced as part of the Middle School media course at Jabiru Area School. These were developed by the students in response to events happening around the community at the time. The students brainstormed ideas and formats, wrote the scripts, shot and acted in the scenes. All but some of the post-production was completed in four hours of class time.
Three different scenarios were developed. The theme was Don't Be The Person Everyone Talks About....Think Before You Drink.
The DVD contains more music and other material and it can be ordered through the Gunbang Action Group.
The DVD compilation was funded by Alcohol Strategy and Policy, Northern Territory Government.
|Terms of Reference||
The Gunbang Action Group (GAG) works to minimise the harms experienced by the community from alcohol and other substances, including kava and volatile substances. It is a management, advisory and advocacy body.
From local knowledge and networks, it identifies problems associated with alcohol and other substances and then helps to formulate and coordinate practical responses that are appropriate for the region. It can also have a role in implementing and monitoring initiatives.
There are formal Terms of Reference that set out the goals and processes governing the GAG. Specific activities for GAG that are prescribed within the Terms of Reference include:
While its primary focus is on issues of substance misuse, the GAG may elect to engage in other activities relevant to the wellbeing of the local community.
To contact Gunbang Action Group telephone 08 89792200 / 0401114144 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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