Enforcement action against Adani to protect cultural heritage and human rights


Monday, April 26, 2021

Our Cultural Custodians group have filed an enforcement action against Adani for unlawful environmental harm and breaches of our cultural rights. Our lawyers have requested urgent action be taken by Queensland’s Environment Minister against Adani.

The W&J Nagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians have been on Country and seen how the construction and operations of Adani’s Carmichael Coal Mine are causing unauthorised environmental damage, impacting cultural heritage sites, and infringing on our cultural rights under Queensland’s Human Rights Act.

Adani’s work on our Country: it will destroy our cultural heritage, including our sacred Doongmabulla Springs 

Please sign on to our pledge to support the work of our Cultural Custodians and to receive important updates and information on actions you can take.

And please donate to support the work of our Cultural Custodians to protect our cultural heritage.

You can see more about what we are doing in our newsletter below… 


W&J update

After our long struggles, this is a time of transition for W&J people. One in which we have been laying the foundations to be even stronger in the future.

We remain determined to protect our Country. We stand strong and we stand our ground. 

We abide, like the law of the land – as it was, since our ancestors put it there. Our Dreaming keeps us strong.

Our connection to our Ancestral Dreaming means we must fight the tyranny of settler conquest. We will always challenge those who say we are dispossessed, that we have lost our connection – those who would plunder our heritage and deny us our rightful place and our children’s future. 

We are First Nations people; we are connected to our Country through Law. 

Our new video – Speaking for Yagalinggu Country – tells more of our story and our role as cultural custodians.

Watch “Speaking for Yagalinggu Country”

W&J Nagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians – speaking for Country

We are present on Country because it always was and always will be our land.

We are the W&J Nagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians: a group of self-determined W&J Traditional Owners who speak for Country, and who uphold the resolutions of our Family Council to protect our country from extractive industries.

We are maintaining a permanent presence on our homelands to care for our lands and waters. We must fulfil our cultural obligations to protect the land and bring up our young people, thus safeguarding the future of our Dreaming stories. 

For the W&J First Nation to be strong and grounded in our rights we must continue to live and practice in direct connection to Country, culture and law.

The W&J Nagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians need your support. Please donate generously to our W&J Cultural Custodians fund.

We need to ensure that we have the resources to travel around and camp on Country, monitoring damage and destruction, and holding those who harm our lands and waters to account; as well as to hold ceremony and maintain our cultural sovereignty camps.

As Cultural Custodians we are carrying out the responsibilities and exercising the rights that belong to us as Traditional Owners and the First Law people of the land.

That means we must protect our Country from the ravages of internationally funded mega coal mines on our lands. We must do this so that we have the land and cultural basis on which to build for our future. 

We continue to resist Adani and all other coal miners who would extract profits from our land and leave us a legacy of environmental destruction and harm to our people.

Cycle for Country – the Tour de Carmichael

To raise awareness of the threat to our culture and heritage and teach others about our laws and customs, my son Coedie McAvoy, a cultural leader in his own right, is holding an event on Country in May.

The Tour de Carmichael is an opportunity to learn about Wangan and Jagalingou totems and culture, connect with others taking action to stop Adani’s mega coal mine and see what’s at risk if Adani are allowed to proceed. 

Coedie will share his story of resistance and the significance of Wangan and Jagalingou totems including Twin Hills, the Belyando, the Carmichael river and the Doongmabulla Springs.

Everyone from across Australia is invited to Wangan and Jagalingou homelands to come together and understand the fight for our sacred Doongmabulla Springs.

Our Cycle for Country organisers and W&J participants also welcome your support. You can donate to help us make this a great and unique event.

Wirdi language – conserving our identity for our young people

We are the Wirdi speaking people of W&J Country. Our language connects us to our country and our country connects us to spirituality, culture and family. Through these connections we derive our identity as a First Nation and are taught how to live in harmony with our environment.

The effect of colonial-era removal of our ancestors from Country, and the restrictions that were imposed on them not to speak Wirdi, had caused a significant loss of language and damage to identity for Wanggan and Yagalinggu People. 

But we are revitalising our language and using it as a source of strength to develop our culture and sustain our resistance as a First Nation. Our new online dictionary and language learning tools are part of a language project established by the Wangan Jagalingou Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation to revitalise our Wirdi language.

“We are the Wirdi people from Wanggan Yagalinggu Country. We are reclaiming our identity and revitalising our unique language. Our traditional language was spoken by our ancestors for millennia, before the impact of colonisation on our people and culture. This project is to ensure that once again our children and grandchildren, and those that follow, will hold our true identity and continue to speak our original language.”

W&J Language Project Manager, Sharon Ford

You can donate to this project and help strengthen the revival of Wirdi language. The Wirdi online dictionary and language learning tools are here

Defence of Country, Defence of People, Defence of Rights

Our story has always focused on the core of First Nation rights that are at the heart of W&J’s Defence of Country, People and our Rights –  that is, Aboriginal sovereignty, self-determination, land rights, protection of lands and waters, and upholding cultural law and practice.

Our W&J resistance is still strong, and our Cultural Custodians will never surrender.

For us, Adani is incidental to our story. The W&J cause is older, deeper, and wider than just stopping the mine. And continues today in discriminatory native title laws, the significance of invasion day and deaths in custody, and other ongoing human rights breaches, with which we actively engage to seek redress and restitution.

I gave a recent speech on the W&J council’s stand on Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) and restitution for human rights violations to a First Nations Self-determination, Representation & Wellbeing Forum.

Yet still, the Federal and Queensland Governments have not addressed the call by the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) to address our concerns.

Over two years ago the UNCERD wrote to Australia about Adani’s bad faith dealings with W&J and the lack of free, prior and informed consent for their mine. The failure of Adani to obtain our consent has been documented in a recent RMIT report – First Peoples and Land Justice Issues in Australia: Addressing Deficits in Corporate Accountability.

But we are holding firm. We will not cede our territories; or yield to governments that infringe our right to Free Prior Informed Consent and self-determination.

We are standing our ground.

Will you continue to stand with us?

The W&J Nagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians need your support. 

Please donate generously to our W&J Cultural Custodians fund.

Together we are stronger.

Yours for Country,

Adrian Burragubba

Wangan and Jagalingou tribal leader

W&J Nagana Yarrbayn senior cultural custodian

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