Today marks one year of ownership and operation of Roebuck Plains Station by Aboriginal Corporation Nyamba Buru Yawuru (NBY).
The Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) initially purchased Roebuck Plains Station in 1999 to benefit Yawuru Traditional Owners. In 2006, the Federal Court determined that the whole of Roebuck Plains Station was to hold the unique status of exclusive possession Yawuru Native Title. The Yawuru language name for the land on which the Station is located, is Gumaranganyjal.
Gumaranganyjal and its associated Roebuck Export Depot were handed back to NBY by the ILSC in 2014, and on 1 February 2022 NBY took over operations of Gumaranganyjal through its subsidiary, Yawuru Holdings Company (YHC).
YHC Chairman, Tony Lee said, “The past 12 months have seen Gumaranganyjal go from strength to strength and we are really proud of what has been achieved in this short period of time.”
He noted that it had been a bit of an anxious start, with the company’s Station Manager being stuck in Darwin due to COVID border restrictions.
“Luckily, we’re a resilient mob and we were able to quickly come to grips with the priorities across Gumaranganyjal, to get it up to efficient running order. A lot of that comes down to the fantastic management team we have in place,” Mr Lee said.
The Indigenous employment rates on Gumaranganyjal sit at over 70% and being Aboriginal owned seems to have shifted young people’s ambitions for a life working on the land.
NBY Chief Executive Officer, Nini Mills, said “this year we’ve seen record numbers of young Indigenous people apply for the Aboriginal Pastoral Academy, which is run with the support of our Warrmijala Murrgurlayi (Rise up to Work) employment program.”
“We often hear the mantra of ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’, well we’re here to change that; to inspire and transform the lives of our young people.” Ms Mills said.
The YHC Board has committed to spending over $1 million on capital infrastructure over the next three years; prioritising herd performance, animal welfare, and sustainable grazing practices to turn Gumaranganyjal into a pillar of economic performance for the organisation.
Investigations into carbon neutral production and provenance marketing are also on the cards for Gumaranganyjal, which seeks to be an exemplar in ethically and environmentally conscious performance across the pastoral industry.
The new Strategic Plan for Gumaranganyjal, approved in December 2022, has the vision to deliver excellence in sustainable cattle production and integrate cultural, environmental, economic and social values to create prosperity for future Yawuru generations.
“We remain absolutely committed to striking the right balance between running a business and recognising the Native Title rights of Yawuru people,” Mr Lee said. “It is entirely possible to respect and acknowledge culture and country while running a profitable business. That’s the power of having Aboriginal people in the driver’s seat.”
Media Contact: Ellen Smith 0406 594 979 Ellen.Smith@yawuru.org.au