Aboriginal people to benefit from historic return of country in West Kimberley

22 Jan 2019

The Nyikina Mangala people of the West Kimberley are set to benefit from a historic agreement which gives them control over one of the single biggest pastoral leases in the Kimberley.

The Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) acquired Myroodah Station at the group’s request in 1999 for $2.34 million, with the intention of improving the property before handing it over to its traditional owners.

The process to transfer the pastoral lease to the Walalakoo Aboriginal Corporation (WAC), the native title body corporate for the Nyikina Mangala people, began in late 2014 following the determination of the group’s native title claim.

WAC Chairman, Robert Watson, said the transfer of the pastoral lease was a monumental occasion for local Aboriginal people.

“Our people have a long history with Myroodah station, with many of our ancestors being born, working and even being buried on the station,” he said.

“We are immensely proud of the hard work it’s taken to get to this point, and we are excited about the future opportunities this provides for our people.

“We believe this return of country will create significant economic, training and employment opportunities for our people, which will have flow on effects in terms of social outcomes in the future.”

Myroodah Station covers more than 402,000 hectares, with the pastoral lease now being valued at around $15 million including property improvements to the value of $3 million.

In addition, the ILC will grant the group $657,000 in operational plant and equipment and land management funds of $1 million for the future development, protection and maintenance of Myroodah Station.

ILC Group CEO, John Maher, said the ILC’s mandate is to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to acquire land and manage their lands for economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits.

“The transfer of Myroodah is an excellent example of the ILC working with Aboriginal people to unlock the potential of Indigenous-held land across the country otherwise known as the Indigenous Estate,” he said.

“As well as economic benefits, an environmental management plan has been developed for the property in partnership with the Nyikina Mangala rangers which will ensure cultural and environmental assets are protected.”

WAC plans to sub-lease the pastoral lease to Indigenous cattle management company, Kimberley Agriculture Pastoral Company (KAPCO), which will be responsible for running around 17,000 head of cattle on the property.

Ends

Background notes:

  • The Indigenous Land Corporation was established by Commonwealth statute in 1995 as a response by the Australian nation to the recognition of native title rights in Australian law.
  • The ILC purchased Myroodah station in 1999 following a request from the Kimberley Land Council on behalf of the Nyikina Mangala people.
  • The Nyikina Mangala group and the ILC agreed to postpone the divestment of Myroodah until the group’s native title claim was resolved. This occurred in May 2014.
  • Myroodah station has been operated as a going concern by the ILC delivering Indigenous training, employment and environmental benefits. Since the 2009 Employment and Training program began operating at Myroodah, the station has hosted 234 Indigenous training participants and recorded 143 training completions. Since acquisition, 85 Indigenous people have been employed at Myroodah, including 17 graduates from the trainee program.
 
Media contact:
Claire Muntinga
0429 373 348