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YAC's CEO On creating a sustainable future for Ngurrara people

Peter Murray

Prospects are looking reasonably good for Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) in 2016, according to the Chief Executive Officer Peter Murray. Despite a downturn in the mining industry and a slowing up in operations on country for staff and Traditional Owners, Mr Murray says, “We are still on schedule and headed toward a good year. We are working hard on developing new employment opportunities to create a sustainable future for all communities across the Great Sandy Desert.” 

Yanunijarra as coordinated a comprehensive heritage clearance process with Ngurrara Traditional Owners to conditionally approve the HESS 3D Seismic* program. 

One of the heritage clearance conditions is that two Ngurrara Traditional Owners must be present as cultural heritage monitors while HESS is performing exploration activities. These monitors make sure HESS follows all heritage clearance conditions. 

As the program progresses, there will be 4WD vehicles and seismic trucks onsite conducting research and determining what lies beneath the earth’s surface. During this exploration stage, there will be cultural monitors and Traditional Owners on board. Our Ngurrara rangers will also be conducting fee for service work, doing fire management and water testing. 

Yanunijarra also has a joint venture arrangement with Indigenous Construction Resource Group (ICRG). If successful in the tender to deliver civil works for HESS’s Seismic Program, then there may be employment opportunities for Ngurrara people ranging from civil works, line crew workers and catering. 

Yanunijarra / Ngurrara has come a long way since we were given our Native Title land back in 2007. Much of the Great Sandy Desert has remained untouched by the resource boom, and Mr Murray is adamant that no work should go ahead without the approval of Traditional Owners. 

“Traditional Owners are taking small steps to ensure that the right decisions about country are made, based on our stories and our cultural sites.”

Yanunijarra is continuing to investigate other possibilities for revenue, including housing, community stores and pastoral stations, so that all of our people across the Great Sandy Desert benefit. 

* A ‘seismic’ is an energy wave that travels through the Earth’s layers that gives out low-frequency acoustic energy. It is the only technique that can provide clear images of complex geological structures under the earth. It could support drilling programs and in some cases detect deep iron ore deposits.