Historic cattle deal makes Kimberley Traditional Owners a force to be reckoned with

Kimberley Agriculture and Pastoral Company
  • In a multi-million dollar deal, Walalakoo Aboriginal Corporation (WAC) has acquired Myroodah Station in the Kimberley region of WA

  • WAC will sub-lease the station to the Indigenous-owned Kimberley Agriculture and Pastoral Company

  • The Kimberley Agriculture and Pastoral Company will become the biggest Indigenous-owned cattle venture in the region 

  • Walalakoo land holding is a major shareholder in KAPCO, which is the management company 

In a landmark $11.5m deal, Walalakoo Aboriginal Corporation has today acquired Myroodah Station in Western Australia’s north-west after four years of negotiations with the Indigenous Land Corporation. 

The station is spread over 400,000 hectares and currently holds 17,000 head of cattle. Walalakoo plans to sub-lease the station to the Indigenous-owned Kimberley Agriculture and Pastoral Company (KAPCO). 

KAPCO Chairman Wayne Bergmann says the acquisition is a game-changer for Indigenous business in the region. 

“Our vision for KAPCO is to revitalise the Kimberley’s pastoral industry by improving the infrastructure on a number of Indigenous-owned cattle stations so that they can once again operate at commercial capacity.”

“With the cattle on Myroodah, across the four KAPCO stations we now have a 50,000-strong herd. The multiplier effect of this is immense, considering the jobs and business opportunities it will create. KAPCO’s activities will stimulate the whole regional economy,” Mr Bergmann says.  

KAPCO is now comprised of four stations—Mt Anderson, Bohemia Downs, Frazier Downs and Myroodah—making it the largest Indigenous-owned cattle venture in the region.

Mr Bergmann says Kimberley Aboriginal people have a storied history in the region’s pastoral industry.  

“Our old people were once the backbone of the pastoral industry in the Kimberley. Unfortunately, at that time, they weren’t paid for their work. They received food, water, the clothes on their backs and a bit of tobacco. KAPCO is about putting Aboriginal people in the driver’s seat so we can create economic independence for ourselves on our own traditional lands. We don’t want to be reliant on government funding, we want to create our own jobs and our own opportunities,” Mr Bergmann says. 

Running a successful cattle business is only part of the plan for the KAPCO stations. A framework is also being developed for a youth diversionary project that would see young people who have had contact with the justice system living and working out on one of KAPCO's stations. The Marlanmanu Project would be supported by health, educational and cultural wrap-around services provided by local Aboriginal organisations.

KRED's Chair appointed to Aboriginal Water and Environmental Advisory Group

Peter Murray Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation

Peter Murray, KRED’s Chair and Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation CEO, has just been notified of his appointment to the WA Aboriginal Water and Environmental Advisory Group. This is great news for our members, because it means we have a seat at the table when it come to influencing policy and decisions around the use of our water. As a Traditional Owner from the Great Sandy Desert, Peter appreciates the importance of water. Many of Yanunijarra’s activities over the last few years have centred around understanding water from both a cultural perspective and a Western science perspective. Yanunijarra has been gathering baseline data against which their rangers can measure the impacts of climate change and development. We’re glad that Yanunijarra will now be able to participate in these conversations at a state level.

Mount Jowlaenga Traditional Owners and Sheffield Resources Ltd reach settlement over the Thunderbird Mineral Sands Mine

Mt J and Sheffield Nov 2018.jpg

Some 4 years after commencing negotiations with Sheffiled Resources Ltd about its Thunderbird mineral sands mine 95 kilometers north east of Broome, the Mount Jowlaenga #2 native title claim group this week signed a coexistence agreement with the company to govern how the Thunderbird mine will proceed over its estimated 42 year mine life.

The agreement will provide the Mount Jowlaenga people with heritage and environmental protection oversight, deliver employment and contracting opportunities for Traditional Owners and an estimated $150 million in compensation over the life of the mine for the impacts on the Mount Jowlaenga peoples’ native title rights and interests.

The outcome is a welcome one after a period of litigation in which the Mount Jowlaenga People, represented by Arma Legal, successfully appealed to the Full Federal Court on the ambit of the good faith obligation in negotiations conducted under the Native Title Act. The Full Court’s decision set a new precedent in extending the obligation of good faith to all negotiations conducted between proponents and native title parties, no matter whether they occur in the mandatory or voluntary negotiation period.

KRED Enterprises CEO Wayne Bergmann welcomed this week’s development and the parties’ settlement of the matter.

“I congratulate the Mount Jowlaenga People on their commitment to their cultural and heritage values and for standing strong to enforce the limited rights they are afforded under the Native Title Act. This week’s outcome is a positive one for both parties and we hope it ushers a new era for the relationship between the Traditional Owners and Sheffield Resources — one that is based on mutual respect and understanding,” Mr Bergmann said.

Jawun secondee Bridie McAsey shapes KAPCO youth diversion project

KRED's Amanda Gregory pictured on the left and Jawun secondee Bridie McAsey on the right.

KRED's Amanda Gregory pictured on the left and Jawun secondee Bridie McAsey on the right.

Bridie McAsey: My brief was to develop a model and set out an implementation plan for a youth diversion project that will get young Aboriginal people that have had contact with the justice system living and working out on one of KAPCO's cattle stations in a culturally safe environment. Participants in the program will also be supported by wrap-around services such as health, cultural, and educational, provided by Aboriginal organisations. The project has been dubbed the Marlamanu project (Marlamanu is the Walmajirri word for help).

I tackled the brief with research, and lots of consultation with people working in youth justice and related fields. I also spoke with other stakeholders that will be important for Marlamanu, such as the service providers that the project will be looking to link with. Consultations were extremely valuable and I think a continued collaborative approach will be key to the success of the project. Speaking with people provided lots of important insights about what it will take to make Marlamanu work. Amongst the youth justice community in Broome, there is across the board recognition that current approaches to youth justice are just not working, and the response to the project was extremely positive.

Having a coordinator of the program and services for Marlamanu participants will be an important feature of the project. The target is to have someone employed full time to fulfil the coordination and project management functions. A key theme that has emerged in consultations is that there is a lack of linkage between service providers that are seeking to support young people. There is also a lack of continuity in services and not enough bandwidth to tailor service provision to individual needs. If Marlamanu has dedicated resources to coordinate support services, these issues can be overcome.

I was based in KRED’s Broome office, but also spent some time in Fitzroy Crossing, which was a real highlight of my secondment. I was able to sit in on a KLC board meeting that was being held in Fitzroy Crossing and that Wayne was attending, and whilst there we also spoke to Fitzroy Crossing-based organisations about the Marlamanu project.

There was a lot going on in Broome during my secondment. The National Native Title Conference took place, it was NAIDOC week, and a group of twenty senior executives from organisations that support the Jawun program visited. Amanda and I presented to the visiting senior executives about KRED’s work and the Marlamanu project. 

Working at KRED as a Jawun secondee has been an enlightening experience. I have learnt so much about the way Aboriginal organisations work, the programs they are running, and the issues they are working on. Being in the Kimberley gives you incredible exposure to Aboriginal culture, and I’m so glad of that because I now realise I knew so little before. The Jawun secondment has significantly shifted my perspective and hearing stories and spending time with Aboriginal people illustrated to me how rich, broad and varying the experiences of modern Aboriginal society are. I hope to use the knowledge I've gained in the Kimberley as a lens for examining how Indigenous policy is done in Canberra. It was a privilege to work with and get to know the people at KRED, and my Jawun secondment has had a real impact on me.