• McGowan Government reaches historic settlement with Gibson Desert Nature Reserve traditional owners
  • Settlement to provide economic, social and cultural benefits for Aboriginal people in the Gibson Desert region
  • Gibson Desert Nature Reserve to be renamed Pila Nature Reserve
  • Reserve to be jointly managed by traditional owners and State Government
  • $7.5 million allocated for joint management activities of the reserve 

The McGowan Government has today executed a historic native title settlement agreement with the traditional owners of the Gibson Desert Nature Reserve that will provide economic, social and cultural benefits for Aboriginal communities in the area.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt and Environment Minister Stephen Dawson met with traditional owners today to sign the agreement at Mina Mina, near Patjarr, in the Gibson Desert.

The Gibson Desert Nature Reserve Compensation and Lurrtjurrlulu Palakitjalu Settlement Agreement covers an area of approximately 18,900 square kilometres.

Lurrtjurrlulu Palakitjalu translated into English means 'we will do it together', reflecting the intention of the State Government and traditional owners to jointly manage the country covered by the reserve.

Under the Agreement, the Gibson Desert Nature Reserve will be renamed to a traditional Aboriginal name - the Pila Nature Reserve.

'Pila' describes the prevailing geography of the reserve area, which when translated to English means plains/flat country.

Pila Nature Reserve will be jointly vested with the Warnpurru Aboriginal Corporation and Conservation and Parks Commission, and will be jointly managed for both conservation and cultural values under a joint management agreement.

The settlement package sets aside $7.5 million over 10 years to support the joint management activities over the reserve, providing meaningful work and training opportunities for the traditional owners at Patjarr, Warburton and surrounding communities.

In addition, the settlement package will provide funding to improve infrastructure within Patjarr Community to support joint management activities.

Acknowledging the importance of recognition of their traditional rights and cultural responsibility for the reserve, the agreement includes a commitment to work with the traditional owners to achieve recognition of native title over the area of the reserve. 

The Agreement resolves the State Government's liability arising from the extinguishment of native title by the creation of the reserve in 1977.

The Agreement represents a significant achievement for both parties, particularly the traditional owners who have strived over a very long period to achieve recognition of their traditional ownership of the country covered by the reserve.

Comments attributed to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt:

"All those who have worked so hard to get to this day appreciate the significance of signing this agreement to jointly manage the Pila Nature Reserve.

"It will not only deliver positive economic and social benefits for the traditional owners but is also a just outcome that all Western Australians should feel proud about."

Comments attributed to Environment Minister Stephen Dawson:

"Today is a historic day for the Warnpurru Aboriginal Corporation and the State Government, who will work together to jointly manage the reserve.

"I am pleased that the rights and interests of the traditional owners are now being recognised by the reserve being jointly vested with the Warnpurru Aboriginal Corporation, and that the area will be renamed Pila Nature Reserve, to reflect traditional language and its cultural significance.

"The McGowan Government is listening to traditional owners across WA and is working hard to build stronger and better partnerships through agreement-making and joint management arrangements, underpinned by initiatives such as our Aboriginal Ranger Program and Plan for Our Parks."

Aboriginal Affairs Minister's office - 6552 5900

Environment Minister's office - 6552 5800

Page reviewed 02 Nov 2020