Wakool Indigenous Corporation



PRESS RELEASE - For immediate Release                                                           

Tuesday 3rd March 2015

Balranald, NSW.



Scandal Rocks Government as Squatters Move In


NSW Office of Water and Department of Primary Industry are on the back foot only weeks away from the State election.  Yesterday government officials claimed no knowledge of a mass exodus into vacant housing on the Nimmie Caira water project in the Riverina.  At least half a dozen families vacated their Aboriginal housing in Balranald and Robinvale (VIC) on the weekend to take up residence on the Nimmie Caira.  NSW Office of Water official Mr David Leslie claimed that "nobody was given permission to take up residence" on the crown land.  However sources within the Balranald community have stated that they were offered the properties at a paltry $50 per week rent by "a bloke from the water department".  This includes two storey residences and properties with substantial outbuildings. Mr Leslie has since cancelled a scheduled meeting at one of the residences.

The squatters are all members of the WYN Tribes Aboriginal Corporation and their immediate families. The WYN Tribes reported a Nil return on income last financial year despite undertaking several contracts for government and mining companies in New South Wales.  Directors of the organisation are currently under investigation for fraud by the NSW Aboriginal Land Council.  One listed member of the organisation was not aware of being a member when asked, having been incarcerated at the time of his 'membership' being approved.

Local resident Gary Pappin suspects corruption is rife within senior levels of the NSW government departments. "Why would the government continually lie to our faces?" "The only reasons I can see are blackmail, bribery and underhanded dealing." "This has been happening for months. It doesn't make sense for a government to repeatedly disregard its own laws and procedures. There has to be something dubious going on."

The Nimmie Caira project is adjacent to the controversial West Abercrombie water project which contains some of Australia's most extensive burial sites.  The West Abercrombie project was refused a Stop Work Order by Water Minister Kevin Humphries six months ago and has since been placed on hold- locals suspect until after the State election.



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Wednesday 26th November 2014

Balranald, NSW, Australia.



Indigenous community refused access to basic health servicee.


Tempers flared yesterday outside the Balranald Aboriginal Health Service after the Federal Government refused to reinstigate vital funding for primary health care in the community. 

Jane Bennett, Director, for the Federal Government Department of Health today told a panel of stunned Indigenous community leaders that “There will be no services in Balranald”. 

The community lost all of its services over two years ago when a Victorian-based organisation reneged on their Memorandum of Understanding with the Aboriginal Health Service.  The $650,000 Government funding health facility has since been sold into private hands for a mere $48,000.  Balranald Shire Council have labelled the facility a “white elephant” and a “waste of taxpayers money”.

The Balranald Aboriginal Health Service has been operating in their original building and on a volunteer capacity for the last two years to provide essential services and emergency relief to the community.  Ms Bennett has told the community that this facility is ‘not suitable’, even though it has been used successfully for over a decade for the same purposes.

The lack of service provision has placed a strain on the local Hospital emergency department as individuals are waiting until serious health effects take hold before being seen.  Others in the Indigenous community face a three-hour round trip interstate to Victoria for primary health care needs, including pregnancy services and kidney dialysis.


Balranald Aboriginal Health Service encourages people to donate to their charity online at




PRESS RELEASE - For immediate Release

Monday 24th November 2014

Balranald, NSW, Australia.



Gov says not the forum for a “difference of opinion”


Muthi Muthi Traditional Owners are horrified to learn that their sacred dreaming sites are to be destroyed after a Stop Work Order was refused by NSW Water Minister Kevin Humphries.  Mr Humphries has said that the Office of Water have undertaken ‘all necessary measures’ and that ‘The Office takes its obligation to ensure Aboriginal heritage and cultural sites are identified and adequately protected very seriously.’     The Traditional Owners disagree.  


In correspondence received from Office of Water Acting Coordinator Jonathon Gregory last week Muthi Muthi representatives were told that these projects are not an appropriate forum to resolve any differences of opinion over indigenous cultural rights”.  Traditional Owner Gary Pappin asks “Well what is an appropriate forum if not the imminent destruction of our ancestral remains? We asked the Office of Water to do the job properly and they said NO. Now they are saying we declined to participate when they wanted us to sign off on dodgy works. We offered to provide our own archaeologist for free and they refused.  To me that doesn’t say that we ‘declined to participate’.”   

The initial report in response to that heritage survey, which the Wakool Indigenous Corporation understands was undertaken illegally under the NSW Land Rights Act, stated that there wasn’t any archaeology in the area.   This is even though the Abercrombie and Yanga catchments were found to be significant to the Muthi Muthi people by both the Commonwealth Government and the Murray Darling Basin Authority in their reports only a few years ago. 

Nearby burial sites have previously been dated by The Australian National University as older than 42,000 years; making the area home to the oldest human remains in Australia. A revised report was issued but Mr Pappin notes of it that “They are now telling us they have found significant artefacts but they refuse to tell us what these are or what their definition of significant is.  Who are they to place a value on our ancestors?”

Mr Pappin is also concerned over the environmental management of the project with the copy of the final draft report he received stating that the vulnerable Western Blue Lizard ‘is likely to flee the area’ as heavy machinery approaches.  “They don’t move that fast” Mr Pappin notes.



PRESS RELEASE - For immediate Release

Wednesday 1st October 2014

Balranald, NSW.



Government coercing Aborigines on Federal water project.


Just hours after the heralded success of Tony Abbott's northern adventure comes reports of continued government exploitation of Aboriginal people in outback New South Wales.

Yesterday's  community meeting with the NSW Office of Water was a rout and a debacle according to local community members.  With a majority of attendees arriving from interstate and the community Elders council uninformed the event raised the ire of  local Traditional Owners.

Concerned community members claim that they were forced into signing labour forms without being provided any information as to what they were signing.  One source, who refuses to be named,  claimed that "The government was very pushy. They kept trying to get me to sign the papers, but I kept saying no.  I wanted to know more about it before I signed anything but they told me if I didn't sign yesterday then that was it".  "Most of them there were from Victoria and out-of-towners anyway they weren't locals."

Mutthi Mutthi spokesperson Gary Pappin has this to say: "The NSW government is continuing its underhanded tactics on the Nimmie Caira water project.  They are abusing the rights of the Indigenous knowledge holders.  The rates they are offering for cultural heritage are below the minimum for heritage trainees and three times less than industry standard. It is our fathers and mothers who made those heritage sites.  We have 50,000 years of experience in cultural heritage we are not 'trainees".  Industry sources in Sydney have described the employment conditions as  "its unbelievable, the whole thing's corrupt", "that's ridiculous", and "taking advantage of the poor".

Mr Pappin also claims that the community was not adequately informed "Sending a threatening email after work hours on the day before the meeting and then ticking the box when we don't show up does not constitute fair dealings". 

"We have repeatedly asked for full disclosure from the government. Where are the management plans and codes of practice that they are using out here? Where are the community information brochures?   The Office of Water is corrupt, the department is stacked with nepotism and management is spirally itself into deviousness instead of admitting its mistakes and starting again".

Advocacy body the Wakool Indigenous Corporation has asked the Minister for Water for a Stop Work Order and a full investigation into the matter.  The NSW government may have increased its Indigenous Employment levels a few percentage points but local communities continue to miss out on the multi-billion dollar Water for the Future Initiative.



PRESS RELEASE - For immediate Release

Monday 15th September 2014

Balranald, NSW, Australia.



Gov: "Its not in the budget"

The destruction of dozens of ancient heritage sites including unregistered burials looks set to be assured as the NSW Office of Water continues to blunder its way through the $10Billion Water for the Future Initiative.

The local community is up in arms over the complete disregard for heritage and human rights shown by the NSW Government. Nearby burial sites have previously been dated by The Australian National University as older than 42,000 years; making the area home to the oldest human remains in Australia.. 

West Abercrombie Project Engineer Boama Amaofo was confronted last Friday by the Indigenous Knowledge holders but instead of listening to their concerns he continued to site without them- in clear breach of NSW heritage guidelines. Previously Mr Amaofo had told the community that a complete heritage survey was out of the question as there was "no money in the budget" even though the project budget stands at $136million. 

Traditional Owner Gary Pappin asks "What on earth are they spending the money on?  Its preposterous that such a simple process can be ignored by a government that should know better".  An offer by the community to provide a qualified archaeologist to undertake a watching brief for free was counteracted by Mr Amaofo with a flat out "No".  

An urgent Stop Work Order has been requested from the NSW Government to prevent these sacred sites from disappearing forever.



PRESS RELEASE - For immediate Release 


Friday 12th September 2014

Nimmie Caira, NSW, Australia


Deception, Disrespect and Desecration of Indigenous Rights on Nimmie Caira Project

In continuation of 50,000 years of cultural tradition, yesterday traditional Elders of the Nari Nari and Mutthi Mutthi tribes held a corroborree and smoking ceremony to pass judgement on the wrongdoings of the NSW Office of Water and their contractors. 

In accordance with traditions a fire of green gum leaves was lit by twizzling sticks before attendees were invited to purge themselves of corrupt and evil thoughts and clear their minds in preparation for tribal council.  Ordinarily this tradition is followed by a Welcome to Country, however yesterday Traditional Owner Nolita Edwards announced to the stunned audience that the Indigenous tribes of the Lowbidgee were no longer willing to accept the terms and conditions imposed upon them by the Office of Water. "You have lied to us and you have lied to our children's future" she announced unequivocally. "We are a proud people and we are not going to take the desecration of our culture and our history lying down.  It is time to renegotiate."

This comes less than twenty four hours after the Office of Water announced payment rates for labour intensive archaeological field survey that were less than one third of the industry standard.  "Its unbelievable that they think that just because we live in a rural area our knowledge and expertise is worth less than our coastal counterparts" notes Mutthi Mutthi woman Maxine Kelly. "Who are they to place a value on our culture and our spirituality?" 

The move is seen by some to be akin to the Wave Hill Walk Off where in 1966 over 200 indigenous pastoralists ceased work over equal pay and equal rights.  Unbelievably the Office of Water officials just don't get it; with Project Manager Michelle Roe noting afterwards that she was "pleased you've all been brought together at last".

The Indigenous Elders have instructed the Office of Water and their contractors that they will not begin works without a structured methodology and an approved Cultural Heritage Management Plan.  They will now return to their individual tribes with instructions to return the project to the drawing board.



PRESS RELEASE - For immediate Release 


Wednesday 10th September 2014

Balranald, NSW.



What the Government thinks cultural knowledge is worth.

In yet another example of how the NSW Government is misleading rural communities, today local knowledge holders were gobsmacked to learn than a rate equivalent to just $12 per hour is being offered for labour intensive archaeological survey on the $180 million Nimmie Caira project.  By contrast equivalent casual rates under the Water Industry Award stand at $27.56/hr.  Even then this rate is well below the $41 per hour recommended by the Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologist for Grade 2 Assistants.

Community members present were also confused by the bizarre notion that they would be paid these substandard wages via an external " Employment Service Provider".  A practice unheard of in the heritage industry. "I can't see the logic in that" states one source working in the Melbourne heritage industry.  Balranald community members likened the idea to the  'mission management'  mentality of a bygone era. 

In a rare stance of  solidarity members of rival Aboriginal tribes united today to give Mutthi Mutthi man Gary Pappin a standing ovation when he stood up to the bullying tactics of the Office of Water officials. Mr Pappin pointed out the stark differences in current employment law, heritage best practice and the conditions being imposed by the NSW Government.  Industry sources in Sydney have described the employment conditions as  "its unbelievable, the whole thing's corrupt", "that's ridiculous", and "taking advantage of the poor".

The Office of Water have a 'take it or leave it' attitude to the debacle adding yet another toa long list of legal breaches on the ignominious Water for the Futures Initiative.



PRESS RELEASE - For immediate Release  

Tuesday 9th September 2014

Balranald, NSW.



NSW Government under fire yet again over lack of transparency on multimillion dollar water project.

Today Mutthi Mutthi tribal elders and community representatives met with Nimmie Caira project officials to discuss the lack of consultation on the project. This was the first official discussion for the NSW Government in over 18 months of the project. 

The attendees were stunned not to be given any background information on the project.  Strangely, the Government representatives brought no documentation with them that explained the $180 million project.  Michelle Roe, Project Manager for the NSW Office of Water could not even produce a map of the project area to show the Traditional Owners even though this was specifically asked for prior to the event.  Ms Roe untactfully changed the subject when asked about other basic documentation such as cultural heritage management plans or environmental impact statements.

Mutthi Mutthi man Gary Pappin queries "How can we be expected to make informed decisions on our country when the Government has no information to give?  I'd like to know just what they are hiding.  This project is environmental desecration on a phenomenal level.  This is known and unknown sites and my daughter's future connection to country is now at jeopardy because the Office of Water are abusing the system.

The Mutthi Mutthi Traditional Owners are now actively seeking legal representation.



PRESS RELEASE - For immediate Release

Saturday 30th August 2014

Canberra, ACT.


Traditional Owners refused audience at Parliament House

Today Mutthi Mutthi Traditional Owners returned home from Canberra dissappointed with the Federal Government's response to their concerns regarding the wilful destruction of significant sites on the $10billion Water for the Future projects . The Mutthi Mutthi representatives undertook a desperate 1500km round trip from tribal lands in Outback NSW to the lobby of Parliament House only to be told by the Prime Minister's offices to "Go home and draft a letter" and that they would "receive a response in three to six weeks and it may still be a No".

In stark contrast it took Opposition leader Bill Shorten's office less than five minutes to arrange an hour-long meeting with Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Shayne Neumann and followed it with an apology that there weren't more members available. Mr Neumann noted that their concerns about cultural heritage rightly fitted into the Environment portfolio, a remnant from the Federation era when Aboriginal people were classed as a species of wildlife.

The Traditional Owners also met with local Member for Farrer Sussan Ley, who described the Aboriginal people in the western two-thirds of her electrate as "you lot out there" and summarily dismissed the Mutthi Mutthi concerns as "argy-bargy". Traditional Owner Cheryl Charles, whose grandmother Alice Kelly was instrumental in the fight for Mungo Man, said Ms Ley was "very rude" and notes how dissappointed she is with a government who refuses to take her culture and spirituality seriously.

The Traditional Owners also met with representatives of Mick Dodson at the National Centre for Indigenous Studies, who suggested they fought through the law courts. An option simply out of reach for some of Australia's poorest people.




PRESS RELEASE - For immediate Release

Wednesday 27th August 2014

Balranald, New South Wales.


Traditional Owners left out of consultation for Pipeline Project

The Traditional owners claim that NSW Basin Pipes Project is mismanaging $136 million of Federally funded taxpayers money and refusing to cooperate with the appropriate First Nation group. Mutthi Mutthi traditional owners today blockaded the Office of Water in Balranald in an attempt to compel the West Abercrombie Project Engineers to observe the legislative requirements and guidelines set down by the Commonwealth Department of Environment. The Office of Water have refused to release the regulatory documents underpinning the entire project. They are also citing 'lack of funds' as a prime reason for not conducting adequate due diligence over the entire 277km pipeline infrastructure.

With 50,000 years of connection to country the Willandra Lakes World Heritage owners have been left high and dry by the NSW Government who are refusing to accept their Indigenous ownership rights. Sources claim that the Office of Water have refused direct advice from the Environment and Heritage and are attempting to claim immunity from consultation requirements under the umbrella of 'State Significance'.

Mutthi Mutthi Traditional Owner Gary Pappin notes that this is a clear breach of not only State and Federal Laws but also the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. "Its a travesty of justice to the highest degree, continual appropriation and dispossession of the rights of Australia's poorest peoples. Whilst governments are continuing to argue over money our culture and our people are suffering." "It is a misguided attempt by the government to gag us and prevent us from speaking out about corruption and legislative loopholes. We will fight this every step of the way".

Project Manager, Michelle Roe from the Office of Water has reneged on her commitment of early on in the project when she stated: "We are committed to working with the local Aboriginal community to ensure that culturally appropriate way of mapping, storing and managing Aboriginal knowledge is applied during this process."




PRESS RELEASE - For immediate Release

Wednesday 13th August 2014

Balranald, New South Wales.


Claims of corruption and mismanagement on NSW water project.

The NSW Office of Water today faces fire over evidence that the Mutthi Mutthi Traditional Owners have been left out of negotiations on the $180 million Nimmie-Caira Project, part of the wider Federal Governments $10 billion plan to restore the Murray-Darling basin. The Nimmie-Caira project area is located solely within the lands of the Mutthi Mutthi tribe yet the Mutthi Mutthi people have been unaware of project developments since its inception.

Traditional Owner Mr Gary Pappin notes that it is a "monumental case of government corruption and under-the-table dealings. How can an Aboriginal advisory group be established and get paid Government monies when the members don't represent the area or the people. Our people are deliberately being misled, misinformed and hidden from sight for no other reason than political gain. This is yet another example of legalised theft of our culture".

Nimmie Caria Project Manager, Michelle Roe from the Office of Water earlier this year stated that "We are committed to working with the local Aboriginal community to ensure that culturally appropriate way of mapping, storing and managing Aboriginal knowledge is applied during this process," Ms Roe said that "contractors will work closely with local Aboriginal people who will be employed to record and interpret sites in the Nimmie-Caira area. "

Yet it is not Mutthi Mutthi Traditional Owners who are receiving the money or benefits for the project. Spokesman for the Balranald Aboriginal Health Service, Mr Daniel Kelly, notes that income from the project is going to Aboriginal people from as far away as Wagga Wagga and even Victoria. Mr Kelly states that the project and its supposed employment initiative should go towards helping the local Balranald community, a resource that is particularly needed since the BAHS lost government health funding in 2012.