Yamatji Nation receives first cheque under historic agreement

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Liam BeattyGeraldton Guardian
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Carol Martin, Leedham Papertalk, Minister Stephen Dawson and Shirley McPherson.
Camera IconCarol Martin, Leedham Papertalk, Minister Stephen Dawson and Shirley McPherson. Credit: Supplied

The Mid West’s Yamatji Nation are a step closer to self-determination today, with the foundation of a charitable trust that will manage affairs for traditional owners and the official opening of the Yamatji Southern Regional Corporation headquarters.

State Aboriginal Affairs Minister Steven Dawson visited Geraldton today for a ceremony to present the directors of the trust with a symbolic first payment of $10 million.

He said the “historic” Indigenous Land Use Agreement would provide many economic benefits to the Aboriginal and broader community.

“With such a large portfolio of assets, the people of the Yamatji Nation will soon be the largest land holders in the Mid-West,” he added.

Over the next 15 years, the Yamatji Nation Trust will receive $325 million in payments from the State government as well as tens of millions more in assets to empower traditional owners.

Determined in Geraldton last February, The Yamatji Nation Claim covers a landmass of nearly 48,000 square kilometres from as far north as Kalbarri to Yalgoo and Dalwallinu.

The Native Title claim began in 1996 but faced initial challenges due to due to different groups making overlapping claims.

However in 2019, four groups came together to create Yamatji Nation Southern Regional Agreement, leading to an Australian first recognition of both Native Title and an economic compensation package totalling approximately $500 million.

The event was followed by the official opening of the Yamatji Southern Regional Corporation headquarters, which Minister Dawson said would set the Yamatji Nation people up as key stakeholders in the region.

“This is a really significant agreement for the Yamatji people so it’s fantastic to see things moving so quickly into the implementation phase,” he said.

“The McGowan Government remains committed to working in partnership with the Yamatji Nation to ensure they realise the maximum benefit from this historic agreement.”

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