Aboriginal group in Australia files lawsuit over land loss due to mining

In its lawsuit against the Western Australia State government, the Tjiwarl tribe has claimed cultural damage and loss of access to land

June 19, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Aboriginal land rights Australia
The Tjiwarl tribe claims nearly over 7,800 sq kilometers of land in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia as part of their aboriginal title.

An aboriginal group in Australia filed cases against the Western Australia State government over the loss of land due to mining and other activities. According to reports, two cases were filed by members of the Tjiwarl tribe in Western Australia for cultural damage and loss of access to land in the Goldfields-Esperance region. The case was filed at a federal court tribunal on June 17, Wednesday.

Among the activities listed as the reasons for the loss of land are lands and groundwater licenses granted to mining companies, like BHP Group, and a highway development project.  

The case is reportedly inspired by the legal victory of the Timber Creek tribe in Northern Territory in March, last year. In the Timber Creek case, aboriginal land title holders received financial compensation for spiritual losses incurred because of mining activities.

The Tjiwarl Aboriginal Corporation, which is the complainant in this case, claims nearly over 7,800 sq kilometers as part of their aboriginal title. This includes the town of Leinster and several cultural sites dating as far back as 10,000 years or more.

“We can’t access all of the area and this causes a lot of shame for our people because we can’t meet our cultural responsibilities. This case will be about the cultural value, the special value of the country,” said Greg Ryan-Gadsden, chief executive of the Tjiwarl Aboriginal Corporation, while speaking to ABC News.

The conservative-led Western Australia State government has also been recently put under scrutiny for land grants to several mining companies, such as the BHP Group and Rio Tinto Group. Criticism against the government soared after the destruction of a 45,000 year old rock shelter, which was a major aboriginal cultural site, by Rio Tinto.