Bringing traditional culture into governance by navigating the intersecting systems of law

Tuesday, 5 June 2018
Donny Wilson

Initiated by Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation four years ago, the Annual On-Country Bush Meeting at the Yule River Meeting Place has evolved into an important forum for Aboriginal people to share knowledge, and influence the development agenda. In 2017, an historic resolution was achieved that will change the way the WA State Government consults with the Pilbara Aboriginal community. The Aboriginal people of the Pilbara set aside their native title conflicts to unite for the purposes of advancing the community agenda with government.
Previous governments have experienced difficulties introducing policy to Aboriginal communities because consultation has not included the right people; causing distrust and a perceived lack of transparency.

The current WA State Government recognised an opportunity to engage with the Pilbara Aboriginal community through legitimate representatives, authorised by traditional Law. Consequently, the formation of the Pilbara Independent Representative Group has resolved the common issues of traditional Law and culture influences on governmental policy.
These community-led resolutions - endorsed at the grass-roots level, and the recent convenings of the Pilbara Independent Representative Group – demonstrate that government agencies and the Aboriginal community are able to cooperate to achieve practical, beneficial outcomes that will be supported and adopted by all stakeholders.