NLC condemns McArthur River Mine approval

The Northern Land Council has condemned the decision of the NT EPA to approve the overburden management project at the McArthur River Mine.

NLC CEO Joe Morrison said the EPA’s assessment that the project can avoid significant environmental impacts is not supported by its own report.

“The sorry history of frequent environmental incidents at the mine and poor regulation mean that both the operator and regulator cannot be trusted,” Mr Morrison said.

“The report represents an unacceptable approach to environmental risk.  It is merely hoping against hope and goes against the weight of evidence presented to the EPA.

“This proposal to allow an expansion of a troubled operation in order to solve some of its problems is an extremely short-term solution that will result in a costly perpetual legacy for Traditional Owners and Territorians,” Mr Morrison said.

“The assessment even records the EPA’s concern that there is ‘potential for future off-site impacts to occur as a result of the proposal’ and that ‘significant environmental impacts could occur as a result of a major incident, e.g. failure or overflow of the TSF [Tailings Storage Facility] or other events that may lead to uncontrolled release of contaminated water or tailings’.”

The NLC raised many concerns about the MRM proposal in a weighty submission to the EPA.  NLC officers then met with the board of the EPA and told them the MRM proposal should be redrafted to consider alternative development scenarios, provide economic modelling to support any cost/benefit assumptions, and should be underpinned by accepted leading practice community and other stakeholder consultation standards and methodologies (including MRM consultations with the NLC and local Aboriginal people).

“If the NLC’s recommendations were incorporated into a revised proposal the EPA would have delivered a better environmental outcome,” Mr Morrison said.

“Further, the EPA report does not provide any confidence that the closure plan will not result in unacceptable environmental outcomes. The recommendation for approval is based on a hope that over the next 20 years, while the volume of waste rock and tailings accumulates, some technological solution will prevail.

“Far from a best practice approach to environmental management based on detailed characterisation of risk and prevention through elimination or mitigation the NTEPA’s recommendations have a reliance on strengthened monitoring and adaptive management.

“The history of MRM demonstrates a failure of this approach, with combusting waste rock, continued erosion and failure to establish vegetation in the rechannel, seepage and concern around the stability and integrity of both the waste rock dump and the tailings storage facility and cattle contaminated with lead being a few of MRM’s operating results to date,” Mr Morrison said.

NLC contact: Murray McLaughlin 0429 153 363

Galiwin’ku Community Library to Challenge Dewey Decimal System

“There is always a balanda way to do things, but this is our way” – Amanda Gumbala, Galiwin’ku Community Library Officer.

Yolŋu Rom Napurrn Dhukarr: A Living Room Project – Galiwin’ku Community Library

On the 1 August in the big city lights of the Gold Coast, Council’s Regional Manager Children, Families & Library Services, Carol Stableford, shared the story of the Yolŋu Rom Napurrn Dhukarr – the Living Room Project. A project partnership with Northern Territory Library.

Here’s the Abstract from the Asia Pacific Libraries and Information Conference where the presentation was made to a room full of delegates.

When Melvill Dewey first created the Dewey Decimal Classification System, we wonder did he envisage it would continue to be used more than 100 years later in remote Aboriginal community libraries in Australia?

There is a very remote community called Galiwin’ku off the coast of East Arnhem Land. Just over 2,000 people live in this island community, which is only accessible by sea or air. The Galiwin’ku community recently opened a brand new library of which they are justifiably proud.

In Galiwin’ku, like many multilingual Aboriginal communities, English is not the first, second or fourth language for many people in the community, and western mathematical concepts are not aligned with Yolŋu mathematical concepts. So the Dewey Decimal System upon which their local library collection is classified is an artificial construct. This means that we have a local Aboriginal community collection, classified according to Western knowledge constructs, created by an American in 1873. This classification practice is repeated in all Aboriginal Community Libraries throughout the Northern Territory.

We think there is another way. A Yolŋu way.

The Northern Territory Library and East Arnhem Regional Council are partnering in a unique and innovative pilot. Together, we hope to architect a new user experience for community library officers and their community using the ‘living room concept’. We plan to challenge ‘the Dewey’ and realign community collections in a Yolŋu way ie. In respect to concepts of classification and how they relate to Aboriginal knowledge.

We don’t know yet if this project will be successful, but we are willing to try and share our journey with you.

This is a story about a quiet revolution in a tiny community of 2,500 people, on a small island off the coast of Arnhem Land. An Aboriginal Community Library where we dare to create a new way, a Yolŋu way of classifying a library’s collection. A way, we hope will lead to more quiet revolutions, disrupting and energising community libraries throughout the Northern Territory and beyond.

Top End Hosts 12th Year of Prestigious Aboriginal Art Fair

Next week, art lovers from all over Australia (and the world) will gather in the Top End as Darwin hosts the 12th year of the prestigious Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF) and is transformed into an internationally recognised epicentre of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) culture, art, fashion, music and food.

The only national event of its kind, DAAF generated a record $2.23 million in 2017 and a total of $8.83 million over the past five years and has secured a reputation as one of the country’s most significant and internationally recognised arts events

It’s set to be the largest one ever as, showcasing the work of more than 2000 Indigenous artists from across Australia with 100 per cent of revenue going back to remote communities.

It is an exciting week for Arnhem Land as 6 centres will be representing the region and showing off its own work at DAAF:
Bula’bula Arts (Ramingining)
Buku-Larrnggay Mulka (Yirrkala)
Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts (East Arnhem Land)
Injalak Arts (Galbanyala)
Ngukurr Arts Aboriginal Corporation (Ngukurr)
Milingimbi Art and Culture (East Arnhem Land)


Darwin will again be transformed into an internationally recognised epicentre of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) culture, art, fashion, music and food, as the Top End hosts the 12th Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF) this August.

Created 12 years ago, DAAF has cemented itself as a platform to ethically promote the artwork of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Centres and communicate the important economic role they play in generating revenue for remote communities. It has also become a wider platform to discuss modern Indigenous culture, issues and ideas.

Growing annually and with almost 10,700 attendees in 2017, the 2018 DAAF will feature a selection of prestigious cultural events and activities, kicking off with the popular From Country to Couture fashion show on 8 August.

DAAF will showcase the work of more than 2000 Indigenous artists from across Australia, with 100 per cent of revenue going back to remote communities.

The only national event of its kind, DAAF generated a record $2.23 million in 2017 and a total of $8.83 million over the past five years and has secured a reputation as one of the country’s most significant and internationally recognised arts events.

Executive Director of DAAFF, Claire Summers, said she expected the New York Times’ recent recognition of the Top End as one of the “Top 52 Places to Go in 2018” would bolster already growing international visitor numbers this year.

“It was humbling to see DAAF named as one of the key reasons to visit the Top End, and fantastic to see our region receive such positive international endorsement,” she said. “We’ve been steadily building our international curator visitor numbers in recent years, and expect this to increase following the New York Times’ recognition.”

Each year DAAF showcases a spectacular diversity of artwork and provides visitors with a genuine opportunity to meet Indigenous artists, performers, and arts workers who have travelled to Darwin from some of the most remote regions of Australia.

This year’s calendar includes cultural performances, workshops and demonstrations, kids activity stations and the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation (DAAFF) panel discussion.

“DAAF provides a genuine opportunity for arts industry buyers and art and design aficionados to purchase art directly from Indigenous owned and incorporated Art Centres from right across Australia,” Ms Summers said.

“We have visitors come from all over the world for the opportunity to purchase stunning art and experience the rich diversity of artwork that has been inspired by Australia’s most remote desert and coastal regions, to rural and urban communities.”

DAAF offers a range of styles, mediums and products including paintings on canvas, bark paintings, works on paper including limited edition prints, sculpture, didgeridoos, fibre art and cultural regalia.

DAAF is held annually in August, and is proud to sit under the umbrella of the Darwin Festival. DAAF is owned and operated by a membership of ATSI Art Centres and its mission is to encourage the production of Aboriginal arts and assist with the promotion in an ethical business environment. DAAFF is committed to professional development opportunities for artists and Art Workers, and to continually contribute to the cultural aspirations of the Art Centres.

DAAF was originally conceived and designed to complement the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA). It also celebrates the National Indigenous Music Awards and the Garma Festival which are held over the same week. Together, these prestigious events mark the most significant national festival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts in the world. DAAF is also proudly supported as an umbrella event of the Darwin Festival.
For further information, visit .

For more information, please contact Bastion Effect: Emma Jarrett 0438 336 408 Lucas Forato 0421 987 117



Marine debris on north Australian beaches doubles in a decade; foreign fishers may be to blame, researchers say

Trash from the sea washing up on Arnhem Land’s once-pristine beaches has doubled in the last decade.

Researchers say there is up to three tonnes of marine debris per kilometre along 11 monitored beaches in northern Australia, and that much of it is related to increasing foreign fishing activity, some of it illegal.

In June, the ABC spoke with residents of Cape Arnhem, near Nhulunbuy, who detailed the level of rubbish that was washing up on local beaches.

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Coin found off Arnhem Land coast could be among Australia’s oldest foreign artefacts

An uninhabited island off the coast of Arnhem Land may seem worlds apart from medieval Africa, but believe it or not, they’re more connected than you’d think.

In 1944, a RAAF serviceman found several coins on a deserted beach on one of the Wessel Islands, off the Northern Territory coast, but the exact location of the discovery remained a mystery.

Now, almost eight decades later, amateur historians believe they’ve found another coin — this time on Elcho Island, which is also in the Wessel Island group.

The 1944 coins were linked to the east African city of Kilwa, off modern-day Tanzania.

If confirmed to be the same Kilwa coin — thought to have been produced post-1400 — the new coin would be among the oldest foreign artefacts ever found in Australia.

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15 rescued from overloaded dinghy

Fifteen people, including five children, have arrived safely in Milingimbi after a 24-hour ordeal drifting on board a 4.4 metre aluminium dinghy without an engine.

Sergeant Andrew Hocking from the Water Police Section said the party was extremely fortunate to be found after launching from Elcho Island and heading for Milingimbi at 1:00pm on 2 July, Northern Territory Police say.

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Trial tries to lift Aboriginal vote

When Joan M Dhamarrandji talks to people in Galiwin’ku about why they should participate in democracy and vote she tells them that electing leaders has been a part of Aboriginal culture for thousands of years.

Ms Dhamarrandji, an Aboriginal woman from Galiwin’ku on tropical Elcho Island off the Arnhem Land coast, is working for the Australian Electoral Commission to educate people about how the democratic process works and why it is important.

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Leaders’ pace on reform ‘too slow’

Senior indigenous leader Galarrwuy Yunupingu has admonished Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten for the slow pace of indigenous constitutional recognition, almost a year after he believed both men were going to make the issue a ­priority in the parliament.

Penning a heartfelt chairman’s essay for his Yothu Yindi Foundation’s annual Garma Festival in August, Mr Yunupingu, a leader of Northeast Arnhem Land’s Yolngu people, expresses disappointment that the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader have not translated their forceful words at last year’s event into adequate ­action.


Arnhem Land beaches reaching crisis point as Indonesian waste floats ashore

It was a video seen by millions of people worldwide: a diver swimming through Indonesian waters thick with plastic pollution on a scale he said he’d never seen before.

But one of the frontlines of this global problem is much further out of the spotlight, on remote Australian beaches so pristine and well protected that some require a permit before you can set foot on them.

“That is the vision you’d imagine when you go to these beaches — they’re so remote and totally untouched,” said Luke Playford, sea country facilitator with the Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation.

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