Gilbert + Tobin is delighted to have advised Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation (MAC) on its Statement of Intent with Government and Industry to establish a series of principles to guide and govern negotiations and engagements between MAC, Government and Industry on the Burrup peninsula (Murujuga Cultural Landscape).

The signing of this Statement of Intent, a key milestone in the Strategic Agreement-Making project, is the result of tireless work from MAC and reflects the commitment of stakeholders on the Burrup to engage with Traditional Custodians, aligning with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples principle of obtaining free, prior and informed consent from First Nations people. It has been a privilege to work with the MAC Board and Circle of Elders on this project.

This transformational agreement-making model is designed to establish a values-based partnership, equitable sharing of economic benefits and certainty of process for those wishing to undertake activity on the Murujuga Cultural Landscape.

We would also like to acknowledge the commitment of both the State and Federal Government to this project.

Gilbert + Tobin has advised MAC on all aspects of the agreement-making project. The G+T team includes Energy + Resources partner Michael Blakiston, Chairman and Founder Danny Gilbert, consultant Dalveen Belyea and Aboriginal Law expert Thomas Isaac of Cassels in Canada.

Murujuga, meaning ‘hip bone sticking out’, is the name for the entirety of the area which encompasses the Burrup Peninsula, Dampier Archipelago and surrounding seascape.

About MAC:

Established on 19 April 2006, MAC is made up of over 1200 members from five traditional custodial groups: the Ngarluma, Mardudhunera, Yaburara, Yindjibarndi, and Wong-Goo-Tt-Oo peoples. MAC brings together these five groups to pave the way for future generations and work together for country, while respecting lore, heritage and traditions. MAC holds the freehold title to Murujuga National Park on the Burrup peninsula, the first national park to be co-managed by Traditional Custodians and the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

With an estimated one to two million images, Murujuga is home to one of the largest, densest and most diverse collections of rock art engravings, also called petroglyphs, in the world. Assembled over the past fifty thousand years, the petroglyphs of Murujuga are still highly relevant to contemporary Aboriginal people. Murujuga is the only place on Earth where the story of the people and their changing environment has been continuously recorded through art for more than 50,000 years.

Click here to learn more about MAC.

Lead G+T partner Michael Blakiston commented: 
“We are incredibly honoured to have played a role in this ground-breaking collaboration between MAC, Industry and Government on the Strategic Head Agreement-making project. This world-first achievement sets a powerful precedent for future collaborations that benefit all stakeholders and demonstrates the potential for positive change when diverse voices come together with a shared vision. We are immensely proud of the work our team has done on this historic matter, and we are confident that it will pave the way for a more equitable and sustainable future for all Australians. We look forward to continuing to support MAC and all stakeholders involved."

MAC CEO Kim Wood commented:
Today’s signing results from a long campaign by MAC to have its cultural authority valued and a willingness from government and industry to move towards a modern framework that recognises Traditional Owners’ and Custodians’ self-determination and equal status in decision-making. 

MAC is looking forward to working with the signatories to form a Heads of Agreement, following processes aligned with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the principle of free, prior and informed consent.

This new and innovative agreement-making process will allow the co-existence of this spectacular and unique cultural landscape with industry, while creating certainty and stability – it’s a truly great step forward for Murujuga country and its Custodians.”

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