Media release: Wangan and Jagalingou people vow to protect country as Adani moves to ship coal: ‘Adani has never had our consent’

Please attribute all quotes to Adrian Burragubba, Nagana Yarrbayn Senior Elder and spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou Cultural Custodians.

On Opposition to Adani’s Mine

“Wangan and Jagalinagou people first said no to Adani’s mine in 2012, and we continue to say no. Adani has never had Free Prior and Informed Consent from the Wangan and Jagalingou people. 

“We will continue to resist Adani’s coal mine, practice our culture, and assert our human rights as the First Nations people of this country. We are not going away: this is our land and we have Human Rights.

“Wangan and Jagalingou people have been conducting the cultural ceremony Waddananggu for over 120 days on Wangan and Jagalingou country and Adani’s mining lease. This Ceremony will continue and our Human Rights to practice ceremony on country must be respected.

On Adani’s agreements

“The Wangan and Jagalingou Cultural Custodians assert that we are the original ethnic people, currently in occupation of land on Moray Downs leasehold area, manifesting our cultural and religious practices protected under the Queensland Human Rights Act 2019.

“The Indigenous Land Use Agreement that Adani purports to have became invalid this week, by way of the Federal Court ruling removing the Native Title Party’s ability to approve the mining project.

“Without the approval from the Original Custodians, Adani is in violation of International Human Rights by segregating our people.

On Risks to Water 

“Adani’s draining of groundwater threatens to dry up the Doongmabulla Springs, a site that has sustained our people and all life in our country for millennia. 

We wrote to Queensland Environment Minister Scanlon on Adani’s breaches relating to water on the mine site. But the Minister refused to investigate and simply took Adani’s word for it, despite evidence of breaches of Queensland law. We need a full investigation into Adani’s extraction and management of water on the Carmichael mine site.

“Adani must tell us where it plans to get the vast quantities of water for the Carmichael mine, and what impacts this will have on sacred sites like the Doongmabulla Springs.

On Destruction of Cultural Heritage

This month, Adani bulldozed and blew up the site containing the highest concentration of artifacts ever found on Adani’s vast mining lease. The site was an ancient stone tool making area that our people utilised for thousands of years.  

“Every day that Adani keeps digging this mine, it is destroying thousands of years of our old people’s history without our consent. This cannot continue and is why we continue to resist and assert our human and cultural rights to defend our country.”

Timeline: 10 years of saying no – Wangan and Jagalingou people vs Adani’s coal mine

●  2012: Wangan and Jagalingou people vote against Adani mine for the first time

●  2014: Wangan and Jagalingou people vote against Adani mine for a second time

●  May 2015: Launch Federal court challenge against Adani’s Carmichael mine

●  May 2015 Launch Banks Declaration and world tour to meet with banks in USA and Europe 

●  March 2016: Wangan and Jagalingou people vote against Adani’s mine for a third time

●  April 2016: Criticise Adani’s sham meeting for an Indigenous Land Use Agreement

●  April 2016 File legal challenge against Adani mining leases

●  November 2016 File legal challenge to Adani’s sham Indigenous Land Use Agreement

●  October 2016 Meet with UN Special Rapporteur over Adani’s mine and human rights

●  June 2017 Federal Native Title Act Amended for Adani, removing Wangan & Jagalingou rights

●  December 2017: Wangan and Jagalingou people vote against Adani mine for a fourth time

●  September 2018: Apply to the Full Bench of the QLD Supreme Court for appeal against mine

●  November 2018: Tour South Korea to meet Adani investors: all rule out further investment

●  December 2018: Adani applies to QLD Supreme Court to bankrupt W&J Senior Leader

●  February 2019: Adani’s ‘attack dog’ legal strategy leaked to media, targets W&J people

●  August 2019 QLD government extinguishes W&J Native Title, handing land title to Adani

●  October 2019 Adani applies to QLD Supreme Court to block W&J people from country

●  August 2020 Wangan and Jagalingou people issue eviction notice to Adani

●  September 2020 W&J file complaint with QLD Human Rights Commission

●  April 2021 W&J requests QLD Government investigate Adani breach on mine site

●  August 2021 W&J people begin cultural ceremony on the mine site: Waddananggu

●  October 2021 W&J call on QLD Minister & Adani to stop destruction of cultural heritage site

●  November 2021 W&J people block BNY Mellon financing deal involving Carmichael mine

●  December 2021 Adani destroys W&J cultural heritage site, QLD Minister refuses to act.

Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners release disturbing footage of Adani/Bravus security guards’ violent behavior

Wangan and Jagalingou Cultural Custodians refute claims made in the media by Adani/Bravus CEO, Lucas Dow yesterday.  The Traditional Owners who continue to reoccupy an area of Adani/Bravus’ mining lease to conduct the Waddananggu ceremony say Adani/Bravus is waging a smear campaign against them, and using violent security guards and intimidation to attempt to remove the cultural group. They have also released footage they say Adani/Bravus does not want the public to see.

Wangan and Jagalingou man Coedie McAvoy says

“This is not a protest, this is not a protest camp. This is not about fossil fuel activism.This is a cultural ceremony called Waddananggu (‘the talking’). We are not disrupting work on the mine site. We have been performing ceremony for over 114 days now.  I am here legally under section 28 of the QLD human rights act. I am here practicing my culture and I am also here highlighting the destruction that Adani/Bravus is doing to our cultural heritage”.   

“Adani’s claims that we are here squatting illegally is completely fabricated, defamatory and disregards our human rights to be here. 

Adani is spreading blatant misinformation and using media outlets in a smear campaign attempt. They are trying to distract the public from the fact that they are the aggressor in our situation, their company is currently destroying our cultural heritage, including blowing up ancient artifact sites and dumping artifact material. 

“Adani and Lucas Dow seem to be trying to hide from the public the fact  that I am allowed to be here.  I am a Traditional Owner on my own Country. They are trying to kick me off my Country again,and they are using the media to try and kick me off my Country again, like they used the media to kick my old people off their homelands. Earlier this year QLD Police issued my father with a statement of regret after Adani/Bravus used the police to unlawfully remove us from a nearby pastoral lease.”

The Wangan and Jagalingou Cultural Custodians say Adani CEO Lucas Dow’s comments in the media yesterday have nothing to do with the ceremony, and the ceremony will continue despite Adani’s attempts to disrupt it.

“Adani says that we are the minority. We are some of the few families left who hold the remaining language, songs, dances and stories, we hold the cultural sovereignty, so we must be given the right to practice our ceremonies and preserve what we have left. We have the right to conduct our ceremonies on any part of our Country that is legal for us to do so. We should also be given the right to conduct our cultural business in privacy, but there has been no privacy since the start.” Said Mr McAvoy. 

“Some of the ways that Adani tries to intimidate and interrupt us include: 

  • Adani’s security watches the ceremony camp and films us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from when we first arrived. This is not for their protection or for ours, they are doing this to try to interrupt us, intimidate us, spy on us and antagonise us to get footage for use in their attempt to smear our reputations. 
  • Flies helicopters and drone directly above the camp, intruding on our privacy, looking at people when they are half naked trying to get dressed.
  • Adani parks their ‘security’ cars so close to the ceremony camp that their headlights shine into our tents, keeping people awake.
  • Employees stalk ceremony participants up and down the public road, and routinely follow and harass young women as they walk or ride up the road. 
  • In one incident, Adani security unnecessarily drove right into the back of the camp early one morning and proceeded to film. When one Traditional Owner then stood in front of a vehicle to stop them from driving back through their private camp area, a security guard grabbed this young man with both of his hands,and put an arm around his neck (see photo). The Adani employees should not have used violence and should not be trying to escalate violence. They should not have set their hand on the young man, and they shouldn’t have been in the camp in the first place. 
Adani security assaults Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owner
  •  In another incident, I sat in a chair in front of a security vehicle in an attempt to stop the vehicle driving into the camp. Instead of staying still, or moving away from the area, the Adani employee drove the car into me” ( see video) 

“Adani violates the privacy of our ceremony camp, and impinges on our right to practice our culture unhindered. Our ceremony is over 1km from the coal mine, not 200m as an Adani CEO falsely stated in the media yesterday.  All interaction with security guards has been when they have come into our space, breached our privacy and made antagonistic moves to get a response from us, knowing that we have been here legally the whole time. Running people over and then saying you are there to keep them safe does not make sense”. 

“In another of Adani’s recent media statements, they falsely stated that we chartered a helicopter to deliver alcohol. The fact of the matter is that some of our visitors were stuck on the road to the Waddananggu camp, caught in between two flooded crossings for 5 days and we had to rescue them when they ran out of food and water, and get our groceries delivered due to flooding in the area. On the big stations out here, getting groceries delivered by helicopter is normal in wet season. Adani employees flew over our stranded friends and did not stop to check if they were ok. Their disregard for human life is disturbing. Adani tried to make a scandal over a box of vb. My view is that Queenslanders are not going to have a problem with people having beer. I don’t even drink it myself, though it is good for damper. No one is allowed to drink alcohol in the ceremony area. Meanwhile  Adani sells booze every day to their own workers. The’ve have had rape allegations, one or more deaths and a drug kingpin employee missing from the workers camp for nearly two months. It seems that Adani’s camp is the place where booze and unsafe behavior is common.” 

 “The real issue is that Adani don’t like us exercising our human rights to conduct our ceremony on our Country, and they don’t like people talking about how they are blowing up our cultural heritage sites, sending species extinct and damaging the sacred Doongmabulla Springs.”

ENDS

Video footage and images available here.

Follow W&J Cultural Custodians on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Queensland Government gives Adani green light to blow up major Wangan and Jagalingou cultural heritage site

Media Release December 6: The Queensland Government has rejected a request from seven Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners to investigate a potential breach of the QLD Cultural Heritage Act and prevent destruction of Aboriginal cultural heritage, giving Adani the go-ahead to detonate and destroy the site with the highest concentration of ancient cultural artifacts found to date. See Sydney Morning Herald today.

Please attribute all quotes to Adrian Burragubba, Nagana Yarrbayn Senior Elder and spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalinbgou Cultural Custodians.

“The Queensland government has allowed Adani to destroy an ancient Aboriginal cultural heritage site at its Carmichael mine, ignoring concerns raised by Traditional Owners. Adani bulldozed and blew up the site containing the highest concentration of artifacts ever found on Adani’s vast mining lease.

“The site was an ancient stone tool making area that our people utilised for thousands of years. These artifacts are a reminder of who we are – they must not be destroyed. Some artifacts have been collected, but thousands more have been blown up and bulldozed into piles. 

“With our lawyers, we requested the Queensland Government act to issue a stop work order and halt Adani’s destruction of our cultural heritage. 

“We provided evidence of a potential breach of Queensland Cultural Heritage Act, and requested the government investigate. 

“The Queensland Government has notified us it is refusing to investigate or act. They took Adani’s word for it, and allowed Adani to destroy ancient Aboriginal cultural heritage.

“Adani only plans to mine coal for 24 years, but is destroying ancient cultural sites that are thousands of years old.  

“This is the price that Wangan and Jagalingou people are paying for Adani’s coal: the permanent loss of our cultural heritage and destruction of cultural sites with thousands of artifacts made by our old people.

“Adani has an obligation to ensure excavation work does not harm Aboriginal cultural heritage. The Queensland government has an obligation to uphold the law: but says there is no evidence Adani has harmed or will have a significant adverse impact on our cultural heritage. In what universe is bulldozing and detonating an ancient cultural heritage site not harmful?   

“After Rio Tinto blew up Juukan Gorge, many thought things would change. Now Adani is blowing up ancient Aboriginal cultural heritage sites in Queensland. 

“Australia’s cultural heritage laws are broken and they must change. We are being denied our rights in shonky deals and a sham process. We must be given rights to veto the destruction of our cultural heritage. 

“We believe Adani has broken the law by breaching the Queensland Cultural Heritage Act. It is time for Adani to be held to account and stopped before it is too late. Since the Queensland Government is refusing to investigate and hold Adani accountable, we will seek to use our legal rights to do so.

“Adani’s destruction of our cultural heritage is a clear violation of our human rights to maintain and strengthen our distinctive spiritual, material and economic relationship with the land, and to conserve and protect the environment under the Queensland Human Rights Act 2019.

“Adani knew about the significance of this sacred site for years, but failed to inform Aboriginal people until the last minute, and pushed on to destroy the site when we spoke up. 

“The Chair of Adani’s Cultural Heritage Committee Patrick Malone made demands of Adani relating to the management of this site, including not to dump the artifacts at Red Hill. Adani appears to have ignored these requests. Now Adani has told the Queensland Government that Patrick Malone says the site has been “culturally cleared”, and acknowledges the artifacts are now at Red Hill. 

“The truth is that all Wangan and Jagalingou people have been excluded from knowledge and decision-making about this important site. We are devastated by its destruction by Adani on the say-so of one or two individuals.”

“Adani has to face the truth: they destroyed our cultural heritage. They didn’t care about it – they bulldozed and blew up our sacred site.

“Adani has only just started its mine, and has years of construction to go. But Adani’s management of Aboriginal cultural heritage is only resulting in devastating destruction and it cannot go on.”

Red Hill site where the artifacts have been dumped, against the initial request of archaeologists and the Chair of the Cultural Heritage Committee. November 2021.

Photos and footage

Traditional Owners reject Adani statement on destruction of cultural heritage

Day 72 of Waddananggu.

Today Adani/Bravus has made a public statement. This is the rebuttal.

According to Archeo, the Wangan and Jagalingou service provider, Adani has had full knowledge of the site since 2018 and had failed to inform the applicants until right before mitigation in August 2021. Leaving no room to object and only given a short period of 9 days to mitigate thousands of artefacts and only concentrating the site to a small area.

Adani failed to informed all applicants that this site was being demolished, only a select few applicants were informed and given the opportunity to retrieve our ancestor’s possessions. Adani failed to understand the cultural and spiritual significance of that site containing stone arrangements and the stories that were told for thousands of years from that site being used as a teaching place.

Adani was given instructions from Archeo that the site must be excavated to 1.5m deep. Adani then proceeded to use a “soft wheeled” excavator to remove 60cm of topsoil. No professional archaeological dig was undertaken.

Adani dug up our old people’s possessions for a mine and dumped those piles of topsoil filled with artefacts in an area then told our people they can sort it out there.

Adani/Bravus strong armed our people into picking up their ancestor’s belongings because they’ve signed a Cultural Heritage Management Plan they cannot veto any works no matter how significant the site is.

Just like when Adani strong armed our people when all 500+ Wangan and Jagalingou people said No to Adani In Rockhampton 2014, Anthony Lynham gave Adani the mining lease before an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) was signed.

Adani used that as leverage against our people by saying the Qld government had forcefully taken the mining lease. They then forced our people to sign an ILUA for three small blocks of property or the government will take that too and our people would have been left with no jobs and training.

No money, training or jobs have been given to the people that signed the ILUA since 2016.

The ILUA

The ILUA was not properly signed by 3 Native Title executives in 2016 and only signed by 1 which made the ILUA illegitimate and was brought to light in a 2019 federal court case but the judges were given instructions to disregard that finding as it was not ” relevant” to the court case.

A security for the 2016 Maryborough ILUA meeting working at the front door was given strict instructions to not let Adrian Burragubba in.

The 294 to 1 Maryborough ILUA vote was fabricated to make it seem as Adrian Burragubba was that “rogue” one. When in fact Adrian Burragubba along with over 200+ other Wangan and Jagalingou people boycotted the 2016 Maryborough meeting. We all agreed as one mob with 500+ people not to go back to Adani after we all said No in 2014.

We are not fossil fuel activists.

This is not a stunt.

We want our country back, and we will sit here until we force you to give it back.

Traditional Owners call on Queensland Government to stop Adani bulldozing major cultural site at coal mine

Adani is preparing to bulldoze a highly significant Wangan and Jagalingou cultural site at its Carmichael coal mine, just days after the Federal Government Inquiry into the destruction of the Juukan Gorge rock shelters recommended new laws to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage sites. The news broke on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald today.

The site is an ancient stone tool making area that Wangan and Jagalingou people utilised for thousands of years. It contains the highest concentrations of artefacts found on Adani’s mining lease to date.

Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners have written to the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships calling on them to issue a stop work order for clearance works under Section 32 of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003.

Traditional Owners are worried Adani will destroy the site in the coming days. The site is 3000 cubic meters in volume, larger than an Olympic swimming pool. It is within Adani’s coal pit area, which is currently being dug as Adani advances towards exporting its first coal later this year.

Adani plans to bulldoze and remove material and artefacts from the cultural site and relocate it to another culturally important site. Traditional Owners are concerned that dumping of the artefacts would also contaminate the proposed relocation site and change its cultural significance. Adani’s relocation site is in an area earmarked for underground mining operations. There is a risk the land on this site will subside as underground mining takes place, making it unsuitable for safekeeping of cultural artefacts.

Today marks 60 days since Wangan and Jagalingou people commenced a cultural ceremony and occupation of land opposite the gates of Adani’s Carmichael mine, stating their clear and ongoing opposition to the destruction of land and water. The Queensland Police recently refused Adani’s requests to move the Traditional Owners on. Adani claims the group is trespassing, but Queensland police have acknowledged their cultural rights to be there under the Queensland Human Rights Act 2019.

Wangan and Jagalingou Senior Custodian Adrian Burragubba says

“Adani plans to desecrate and destroy sacred sites in the path of its coal mine. We’re upset and we want this to stop. This site cannot be allowed to be rolled over and crushed with bulldozers.

“It is our birthright to participate in the preservation and protection of our cultural heritage. Our family is being deliberately excluded from participating in the monitoring and recording of any disturbances of our artefacts. This denial and rejection of our right to our cultural identity is comparable with what the settler society did to our ancestors.

“These artefacts are a reminder of who we are. We don’t want Adani to desecrate and destroy this site. It contains generational history that is thousands of years old. In the absence of appropriate spiritual practices, the cultural integrity of these significant sites are being compromised.

“It is clear this site meets the definition of Aboriginal cultural heritage under section 8 of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 (Qld) as it is a significant Aboriginal area, contains significant Aboriginal artefacts and is of archaeological significance. Hundreds of artefacts have already been collected, and thousands more remain – they cannot be destroyed.

“Adani has a cultural heritage duty of care under section 23 of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 (Qld) to take all reasonable and practicable measures to ensure excavation work does not harm Aboriginal cultural heritage. It is an offence to breach this duty of care and Adani and the Queensland government must act today.

“We want to protect our cultural heritage from this mine and from The Adani Group. Adani is disrespecting us and our authority as Traditional Owners. This is why we have been speaking up all these years. This is why we are on country now, where we have been having ceremony for the last 60 days.

“The Queensland Government must make a stop-work order immediately to reduce any further conflict and hold the mining company to account for what has already been done in treating our sacred sites with violent disrespect.”

Wangan and Jagalingou woman and registered Clermont Belyando native title applicant Lyndell Turbane says:

“This is very distressing for us. Adani is digging up our land, our artefacts, and our cultural history. Adani needs to stop the destruction of this site right now.

“This is a very significant cultural site. Something this significant should be brought to the Native Title applicants, so we can bring it back to talk to our families, not for a couple of people to sign away.

“We are being excluded from knowledge and decisions about our land. The destruction of this very significant cultural site is wrong – and it needs to stop now.”

Contact

Adrian Burragubba 0497 503 594
Lyndell Turbane 0487 296 028

Protect the sacred Doongmabulla Springs and uphold W&J human rights

Friends, 

Adani threatens our sacred Doongmabulla Springs with destruction. 

And as Adani drains and pollutes the underground water for its massive mining project, we have put the Environment Minister under fire. 

The Queensland Government is failing in its duty of care to guarantee the human rights of all Wangan & Jagalingou people.

We need your support!

Write to the minister now and urge her to meet with the Nagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians, to hear our concerns and take the actions we have requested.

I spoke to a solidarity rally of W&J supporters on 30 August, outside Qld Parliament, to raise the pressure on the Palaszczuk Government. See this Channel Nine news story.   

We are witnessing the rapid destruction of our land, water, and culture by Adani. 

The government is responsible for this, yet continues to ignore our calls for urgent action. We won’t be fobbed off.

The Environment Minister, the Hon. Meaghan Scanlon, has the power to stop work on Adani’s mine and order an independent investigation into the mounting threats to our sacred Doongmabulla Springs.

We are asking the Minister to show us proper respect and meet with us to hear our story and learn what’s happening on our country. 

Take action: let the Queensland government know you want them to work with W&J cultural custodians to protect the sacred Doongmabulla Springs and uphold W&J human rights.

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.

We need your support to bring legal challenges to protect the water and defend our human rights

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.

Learn about the Waddananggu ceremony in this new video.  

We have set up a stone Bora ring and ceremonial ground opposite Adani’s mine and are asserting our human rights, as Wangan and Jagalingou First Nation people, to practice culture.

We will remain on Country for as long as it takes to protect our ancestral homelands, including the sacred Doongmabulla Springs, from Adani’s destruction. 

You are invited to join us and show your support.

Come to witness Waddananggu – ‘the talking’ – and stand with us to protect our human rights to practice ceremony and culture, and protect our homelands.

Our fight is long and we still need your support. 

Please donate to support the work of the W&J Nagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians.

And learn more about what we’ve been doing by visiting our website and FaceBook page

Yours for Country. 

Adrian Burragubba

Wangan and Jagalingou tribal leader

Nagana Yarrbayn senior cultural custodian

Waddananggu – the talking

Waddamuli (Hullo)

ngadyu narri coedie (My name is coedie)

Ngaya Waddana Ngadyu yamba nani mundu (I am speaking from my homelands)

Yinda Daga-gu Yina Banna (You need to come here)

Gundarrana Ngaligu Binda (We’re fighting to live.)

I’m asking every man and woman to come to my homelands to join me and my family at Waddananggu – ‘The Talking’. Waddananggu is an evolving and multifaceted ceremony.

We have set up a stone Bora ring and ceremonial ground opposite Adani’s mine and are asserting our human rights as Wangan and Jagalingou people to practice culture.

Come to witness Waddananggu – ‘the talking’ – and stand with us to protect our human rights to practice ceremony and culture, and protect our homelands.

ngali yinda banna, yumbaba-gi. (We need you, to be heard.)

Coedie – Wangan and Jagalingou Cultural Custodian

Media Contact:

Media can contact 0448 745 850 or wanganandjagalingousog@gmail.com

Call to action – demand a Stop Work on Adani mine

NEWSLETTER

Tuesday 20 JULY 2021

Friends, I need your support.

Today I have written to the Honourable Meaghan Scanlon MP, Minister for the Environment, to call for an immediate stop work order on construction of the Carmichael mine.

I have asked her to intervene and support our human rights by ensuring that our lands and waters, and our sacred Doongmabulla Springs, are protected from Adani.

You can help strengthen our demands.

Please write to Minister Scanlon expressing your support for the W&J cultural custodians and our call for immediate action to protect our sacred Doongmabulla Springs

Email her at environment@ministerial.qld.gov.au – and please Cc us at wanganandjagalingousog@gmail.com so we can see your messages too.

The Queensland Government has so far failed to address our call for urgent action. We have raised the dire warning about the threat to our sacred springs – a place of profound cultural heritage to us. We fear that the very large volume of water extraction by Adani that is now evident has already locked in future environmental damage to our sacred site

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 –

  1. A ‘Stop Work’ on the mine until our sacred Doongmabulla Springs are protected
  2. Independent verification of the results of the department’s investigation into our complaint
  3. A comprehensive, independent, scientific review to help protect the water and the springs
  4. 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. 

Please donate to support the work of the W&J Nagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians.

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.

We need your support to bring new legal challenges to defend our human rights. 

With your support we will pursue all avenues to protect our cultural rights and our lands and waters.

To see more about the W&J cultural custodians and how we are standing our ground, visit our website and FaceBook page

Yours for Country. 

Adrian Burragubba

Wangan and Jagalingou tribal leader

& W&J Nagana Yarrbayn senior cultural custodian

Help us bring new legal challenges to protect our lands and waters, and defend our human rights

NEWSLETTER

Thursday, July 8, 2021

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. 

Please donate to support the work of the W&J Nagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians.

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.

Help us maintain a permanent presence on Country, to fulfil our cultural obligations to protect the land and bring up our young people, thus safeguarding the future of our Dreaming stories. 

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.

We need your support to bring new legal challenges to defend our human rights. 

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.

And we are planning further actions.

Please sign on to our pledge 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.

Yours for Country. 

Adrian Burragubba

Wangan and Jagalingou tribal leader

W&J Nagana Yarrbayn senior cultural custodian

W&J call for halt to construction on Adani mine over threat to water

NAIDOC WEEK MEDIA STATEMENT

Thursday 8 July 2021

‘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&J Nagana 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.

Enforcement action against Adani to protect cultural heritage and human rights

NEWSLETTER

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

W&J Cultural Custodians request urgent investigation of Adani

MEDIA STATEMENT

Sunday, April 25, 2021

W&J Nagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians

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&J Nagana 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&J Nagana 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.

BACKGROUND BRIEF

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&J Nagana 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&J Nagana 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[1] as follows,[2]

  • 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.

[1] Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld), s28(1).

[2] HR Act, s28(2) and (3).