Our lawyers are preparing legal challenges while we stand our ground on Country. The government must enforce environmental protection laws.
But if the Government won’t act, we will take enforcement action ourselves.
Adani must stop work!
We’re the real custodians – we’re the ones who stand up and fight for our country and the survival of our people, our law, our culture and our language. That’s why we’re here. This is our life – we lay our life down for the law of the land.
This government hasn’t heard anything I’ve told them. They are acting at the behest of Adani. We asked them to stand with us and fight against this mining company – and all they did was gang up and fight against us.
Our human rights are threatened, right here and now.
Hear about the Nagana Yarrbayn cultural custodians, and protecting the water, in our latest video.
“We manifest our culture. Nagana Yarrbayn, that’s who we are. We’re the cultural custodians.”
We are present on Country, at the edge of Adani’s coal mine, to conduct a ceremony called Waddananggu – which means ‘the talking’. We are making ceremony here. We’re making peace with the old people, calling the ancestors to come in and protect us from this destruction.
The Department of Environment and Science concluded its investigation into our complaint with “no further action will be taken”, despite the evidence we provided about the harm being done to the Doongmabulla Springs.
Adani continues to act with impunity and our lands and waters are in peril.
We have raised many times that the Adani mine breaches our human rights, as there was no free, prior, and informed consent for the issuing of the mining leases and that our lands and waters are in peril.
The Government is now responsible for the terrible impacts occurring on our Country and to our sacred sites.
You can help us change this. We have asked the Minister to meet with us and ensure four things happen. Let her know you support –
A ‘Stop Work’ on the mine until our sacred Doongmabulla Springs are protected
Independent verification of the results of the department’s investigation into our complaint
A comprehensive, independent, scientific review to help protect the water and the springs
The right of our cultural custodians’ group to hold Adani to account for its destruction of our lands and waters
We must act urgently! The very large volume of water being extracted by Adani is locking in future environmental damage to our sacred site. This can only get worse.
We know from experience and history that the consequences for our people will be severe, causing ongoing loss of connection to Country and to our culture, intergenerational trauma, grief, and psychological harm.
Our culture is inseparable from our lands and waters, including groundwater. Where the groundwater flows to the surface, at the Doongmabulla Springs, is our most sacred site. Mining our land and extracting our groundwater denies us our right to enjoy, maintain and protect our culture and traditional stories.
We need you to help ensure that we are not subjected to forced destruction of our culture. We are building new legal arguments to defend our human rights and protect the water. Please help us in this work.
Friends, this is NAIDOC week – and the theme of events this year is ‘Heal Country’. But for us, healing Country won’t happen while Adani accelerates the destruction of our lands and waters, and the Government aids and abets them.
We have seen the destruction that the operations of the Carmichael Coal Mining Project are already causing in our Country, and we are angered by the Queensland Government’s failure to address our call for urgent action.
We have never given our free, prior, informed consent to this mine. Everything authorised by Governments and carried out by Adani is in breach of our human rights. We have called for an immediate halt to the construction of the mine.
We are the cultural custodians, but are denied our right to protect our heritage and environment and practice our culture.
We will always stand strong to defend our human rights, our Country and our culture from interference by people like Adani, who have no respect for our laws and customs and who are harming the land.
And we still need your support. Help us mount the next stage of our resistance as we take our fight for our human rights to the next level.
Damage to the environment is damage to our Country and culture, and is a breach of our human rights as First Nations people.
We are taking action to prevent the destruction of our sacred Doongmabulla Springs. We need your support to bring new legal challenges to protect our lands and waters, and defend our human rights.
Adani and their Government backers can’t be trusted with our people’s cultural heritage. Our role as cultural custodians derives from our laws and customs and our specific relationship to our Ancestor Dreaming. We must protect our sacred springs and the water that nourishes our lives and our culture.
No one will suffer more if the Galilee Basin is truly opened up for coal, than our people.
We have seen the way governments and mining corporations disregard Aboriginal cultural heritage. Right now, Adani has a license to destroy our culture and Country.
We take our cultural and custodial obligations seriously and have proven over a decade that attacks on our Country, our people and our rights will be met with unflinching resistance. Our right to maintain and strengthen our distinctive spiritual, material, and economic relationship with our land and waters is protected under Queensland’s Human Rights Act and this is a right we will continue to assert.
‘Healing Country’ won’t happen while Adani proceeds to destroy our lands and waters
Call for ‘stop work’ and independent verification of Adani’s threat to sacred Doongmabulla springs
The W&JNagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians, a group of Traditional Owners of Wangan and Jagalingou Country, including senior cultural leader Adrian Burragubba, have raised the alarm over environmental practices by Adani Mining.
But they say the Queensland Government’s poor handling of their call for urgent action, to address the severe threat to the culturally significant Doongmabulla Springs, shows Adani acts with impunity.
They are calling for all work on the mine site to stop until the results of a State Government investigation can be independently verified.
Senior W&J cultural custodian, Adrian Burragubba says: “We have seen the destruction that the operations of the Carmichael Coal Mining Project are already causing in our Country, and we are deeply disappointed by the Government’s inadequate response to our request for urgent action.
“We are calling for an immediate halt to the construction of the mine, and for full and independent scientific assessments and monitoring of the threats to our sacred Doongmabulla Springs.
“Damage to the environment is damage to our Country and culture and is a breach of our human rights as First Nations people. We need to know that our cultural heritage is beyond the cavalier disregard displayed by Adani and its contractors, and beyond the political interests of the Government of the day.
Mr Burragubba says that Adani and their Government backers can’t be trusted with his people’s cultural heritage.
“We have seen the way governments and mining corporations disregard Aboriginal cultural heritage. Right now, Adani have a license to destroy our culture and Country.
“The mine will drain the life out of the land and destroy our dreaming and the sacred Doongmabulla springs. It will be a catastrophe every bit as destructive to our culture, and as hurtful to our people, as the blasting of the caves at the Juukan Gorge” he said.
In their request for urgent enforcement action, filed in April by solicitors from the Environmental Defenders Office, the Cultural Custodians called upon the Environment Minister to investigate reported environmental damage, and take action to remedy or restrain any offences being committed by Adani. They received the Department’s two-page response late last week, shutting down the investigation.
Mr Burragubba says the Cultural Custodians requested Dr Matthew Currell, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering at RMIT University, to provide an independent scientific review of baseline groundwater monitoring, to assess the impacts from the Carmichael Mine on the culturally significant Doongmabulla Springs Complex.
The traditional custodians now fear that Adani’s very large volume of water extraction has already locked in future damage to their sacred site. They are asking where the water is coming from for the mine since the Australian Conservation Foundation knocked out Adani’s water pipeline approval.
Mr Burragubba says the Cultural Custodians continue to raise human rights concerns associated with the extraction of vast amounts of water and the damage being done to their Country by “this monstrous mine”.
The custodians are speaking with their lawyers about further legal action to stop the environmental and cultural harm they are witnessing.
“We take our cultural and custodial obligations seriously and have proven over a decade that attacks on our Country, our people and our rights will be met with unflinching resistance. Our right to maintain and strengthen our distinctive spiritual, material, and economic relationship with our land and waters is protected under Queensland’s Human Rights Act and this is a right we will continue to assert.
“We will not succumb to political pressures and will always stand strong to defend our human rights, our Country and our culture from interference by people like Adani, who have no respect for our laws and customs and who are harming the land.
“We will pursue all legal avenues to protect our cultural rights, which are supported in international law, and are now recognised under Queensland’s Human Rights Act” he said.
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…
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.
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.
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.
“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.
A group of W&J Traditional Owners have requested urgent enforcement action be taken by Queensland’s Environment Minister against Adani for unlawful environmental harm and impacts on cultural sites.
The W&JNagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians, Traditional Owners of Wangan and Jagalingou Country, including senior cultural leader Adrian Burragubba, raised concerns that Adani Mining Pty Ltd (Adani) is causing unlawful environmental harm on their Country, impacting cultural heritage sites and infringing their cultural rights under Queensland’s Human Rights Act.
In a complaint filed by the Environmental Defenders Officer, solicitors for the group, the cultural custodians are calling upon the Minister to investigate these matters and bring a proceeding under the Environmental Protection Act to remedy or restrain any offences being committed by Adani.
Senior W&J cultural leader, Adrian Burragubba says: “The W&J Nagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians have seen how the construction and operations of the Carmichael Coal Mining Project are causing unlawful environmental harm to Wangan and Jagalingou Country, which in turn limits our cultural rights and those of other Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners.
“The W&J Nagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians have particular responsibilities in relation to Jagalingou clan estates, where Adani’s Carmichael Coal Mine is under development. Our cultural rights embody responsibilities for the custodianship and protection of our ancestral homelands, which form the basis of our cultural life and Aboriginal sovereignty.
“The right to maintain and strengthen our distinctive spiritual, material and economic relationship with our land and waters is protected under Queensland’s Human Rights Act and is a right we will continue to assert.
“We take our cultural and custodial roles seriously and have proven over a decade that attacks on our Country, our people and our rights will be met with unflinching resistance”, he said.
Sean Ryan, EDO Ltd Managing Lawyer, said: “Our clients, the W&J Nagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians, Traditional Owners of Wangan and Jagalingou Country have raised serious concerns that Adani Mining Pty Ltd (Adani) may be allowing contamination of their Country and limiting their cultural rights.”
“The information we’ve presented to the Queensland Government on behalf of our client indicates Adani may be in breach of its approvals and requires investigation.
“Chief among these concerns is the apparent failure to fully comply with groundwater conditions that require baseline monitoring to protect the sacred Doongmabulla Springs Complex.
“Our client today requested the Minister to take urgent actions to investigate these allegations and ensure the matters of cultural significance referred to are adequately protected”, he said.
The complaint before the Minister argues that, in the circumstances, any environmental harm which arises from actions associated with the Carmichael Coal Mining Project that are non-compliant with the Environmental Protection Act, amount to a limitation on the cultural rights of the Wangan and Jagalingou Peoples that cannot be considered reasonable or demonstrably justifiable. They are therefore a breach of the Traditional Owners cultural rights. To prevent further limitations of their rights, action must be taken immediately.
Adrian Burragubba says: “We are re-instating a permanent presence on Country to fulfil cultural obligations to protect the land and bring up our young people, thus safeguarding the future of our Dreaming stories.
“The Cultural Custodians are carrying out the responsibilities and exercising the rights that belong to us as Traditional Owners and the First Law people of the land.
“This action is being carried out by the direct descendants of those who are the original owners of the lands and waters, who can ‘speak for country’ today.
“The W&JNagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians group is a foundation for speaking the truth to those ‘occupiers’ who are colonising our traditional territories for extractive industries.
“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.
“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.
“No one will suffer more if the Galilee Basin is truly opened up for coal, than our people” he concluded.
Sunday, April 25, 2021
The role of the W&J Nagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians
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.
It is the responsibility of the W&JNagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians to sustain our group’s connection to, and presence on Country to maintain ongoing cultural custodianship of the land and waters, especially our sacred Doongmabulla Springs.
We are a self-determined group of Traditional Owners who maintain permanent presence on country to care for our lands and waters. Our role includes monitoring damage and destruction on our Country and holding those who harm our lands and waters to account.
We will expose and prosecute environmental and cultural heritage breaches under State and Commonwealth laws wherever we find them.
Our role as cultural custodians derives from our laws and customs and our specific relationship to our Ancestor Dreaming.
The W&JNagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians are leading the way in the protection of Wangan and Jagalingou Country. We are resisting the exploitation of our natural and cultural resources to prevent the destruction of our cultural heritage and the impairment of our identity as a First Nation.
Cultural Rights under the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld)
Our rights as cultural custodians are claimed under the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld), which states that Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Queensland hold distinct cultural rights as follows,
Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples must not be denied the right, with other members of their community—
to enjoy, maintain, control, protect and develop their identity and cultural heritage, including their traditional knowledge, distinctive spiritual practices, observances, beliefs and teachings; and
to enjoy, maintain, control, protect, develop and use their language, including traditional cultural expressions; and
to enjoy, maintain, control, protect and develop their kinship ties; and
to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual, material and economic relationship with the land, territories, waters, coastal seas and other resources with which they have a connection under Aboriginal tradition or Island custom; and
to conserve and protect the environment and productive capacity of their land, territories, waters, coastal seas and other resources.
Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.
The Wangan and Jagalingou, the traditional owners of the land in the Galilee Basin, have issued an eviction notice to Adani for its intention to commit serious breaches to land, life and community health.
The eviction notice was served in person by Mr Adrian Burragubba at the company’s Brisbane office on the 20 August 2020. Other notices of eviction will be served in person by Traditional Owner’s at the at the Adani mine site and at the multinational corporation’s headquarters in Townsville.
Adani’s actions are considered unlawful under Wangan and Jagalingou tribal law. Wangan and Jagalingou representatives will commence legal proceedings against the attack on Country by this mining company.
Our objections to this mine are well known and have been ignored. Our basic rights have been torn away and trampled on. Sovereignty remains.
Our land has been sold off to be ruined.
The State and Federal Government, and Adani in partnership have:
Approved the mine in opposition to traditional owners,
Established a sham Indigenous Land Use Agreement,
Extinguished lands rights and native title of traditional owners,
Barred traditional owners from entering their lands,
Bankrupted cultural leaders,
Began the destruction of our land, water and cultural sites.
Adrian Burragubba, cultural leader said, “the time for talk is over, and Adani has got to go.
“This is our home, and we will defend our Country.
“Adani has ignored our concerns. They created sham agreements. They used their power with the government to try and criminalise our actions, and bankrupted us. They have attacked us in public.
They are squatters on our land. So they’ve got to go. And we will stand up to them until they have,” said Adrian Burragubba.