Dhurili Nation Challenges Mining Lease Agreement in Court

Cultural Worlds by WhyWarriors.com.au

Dhurili Nation considers court action as Prime Minister celebrates historic agreement in Gove Peninsula, NT.

The Dhurili Nation, comprising the Datiwuy, Golumala, Marrakulu and Marrangu clans have previously confirmed to the Northern Land Council and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs that they are lawful traditional owners of some areas of land that are affected by a new mining lease and agreement with Rio Tinto Alcan in the Gove Peninsula in the Northern Territory.

“We feel very sad because our rights under Madayin Law have been pushed aside and much pain and division has been created. This shows that colonisation is still happening today creating disharmony, by people ignoring due process. Again the failures of the Australian Government and the NLC to work with Yolngu people through a proper process of law has created division between the clans of Arnhem Land. We will not be celebrating along with others the signing of this agreement” said Dr Gondarra.

The Northern Land Council and the Minister have allowed a new lease to be signed, despite the Dhurili Nation raising its concerns about a lack of lawful consultation and a failure to seek the consent of its members in line with the requirements of traditional Madayin law and the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.

The Dhurili nation, part of the Yolngu people, were previously recognised as traditional owners of parts of the affected area. For reasons presently unknown to them, they were not properly consulted about the recent negotiations with Rio Tinto Alcan. As a result, the clans of the Dhurili Nation consider that their rights under Australian and traditional Aboriginal law have been breached and that they have been improperly excluded from the negotiation process.

The Dhurili Nation is considering challenging the actions of the Northern Land Council and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs in the Courts.

Dated: 7 June 2011

Contact: Rev. Dr. Djiniyini Gondarra, OAM (on behalf of the Dhurili Nation)

About Richard Trudgen

Richard was born in Orange NSW and trained as a fitter and turner. He moved to Arnhem Land in the NT in 1973 and became a community worker, learning to speak Djambarrpuyŋu. Has now worked with Yolŋu people for over 45 years. He was the CEO of Aboriginal Resource and Development Services (ARDS) for 10 years during which time he developed discovery education methodology with Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM and also established Yolŋu Radio in 2003. He is the author of Why Warriors Lie Down and Die and facilitated ‘Bridging the Gap’ seminars, and delivered corporate training across Australia. He is currently the CEO of Why Warriors Pty Ltd, a community development social enterprise organisation working with Yolngu people. He spends his day writing, producing podcasts and building online learning platforms, producing videos and working face to face with Yolngu. He is also involved in building online cross-cultural training material to build understanding between Indigenous peoples and the Dominant Culture.


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  1. Robin Humbertson

    Thanks for posting about this topic “Dhurili Nation Challenges Mining Lease Agreement in Court”. Great post.

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  3. Carlyn

    Hi Christina,

    Yes the Dhurili Nation is bringing the matter to court – and yes it is a frustrating and expensive exercise. It is our hope that it will result in more respect for Madayin Law and the land rights of all clans in Arnhem Land. They need all the support they can get – contact us if you want to help out…

  4. Traditional Aboriginal landowners excluded from Rio Tinto land agreement « Antinuclear

    […] traditional owners from the area were not properly consulted and are considering legal action. http://blog.whywarriors.com.au/2011/dhurili-nation-challenges-lease-agre…) http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/48870 LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); […]

  5. Christina Macpherson

    Colonisation again. Too right!
    As this article appeared in June, – it leaves us in doubt now, as to whether the Dhurili Nation has been able to bring this matter to court.
    I bet that is a frustrating and expensive exercise, even though such an important one.