History 2017-10-09T14:02:38+00:00


Traditional Owner Task Force

In 2005, Woodside Energy Limited approached the KLC as the representative body for Kimberley Traditional Owners and requested a dialogue be opened with coastal groups around the proposal to build an LNG Precinct on the Kimberley coast. The KLC brought together senior Madjas from across the Kimberley to talk about how Woodside and the State should engage with Kimberley TOs. The result was the establishment of the Traditional Owner Task Force (TOTF). The TOTF was a large group of Kimberley TOs representing 11 coastal groups from Karajarri all the way up to Miriuwung Gajerrong. One of the underlying principles that the TOTF brought to the negotiation table was that a large development would impact the whole Kimberley, not just the Traditional Owners whose country it would be built on – like throwing a rock into a waterhole, there would be a ripple effect out. So the TOTF agreed that regardless of whose land the gas plant got built on, there should be benefits for all Kimberley mob. This is where the Regional Benefits Agreement came from which was negotiated by the KLC on behalf of all Kimberley Traditional Owners and with the support of the Native Title Party.

Regional Benefits Agreement (RBA)

The Browse LNG Precinct Regional Benefits Agreement was signed by the State of Western Australia; the WA Minister for Lands; the Conservation Commission of Western Australia; the Kimberley Land Council Aboriginal Corporation; and Woodside Energy Limited (the Parties) on 30 June 2011. Under the Agreement, the Parties committed to delivering a regional benefits package which seeks to improve the educational, health, social and economic wellbeing of Aboriginal people across the Kimberley.

Regional Funds

Under the Agreement there are several funds which were contingent on a Final Investment Decision by the Proponent (Woodside):

  • Regional Economic Development Fund ($20 million)
  • Regional Indigenous Housing Fund ($30 million over 25 years)
  • Regional Education Fund ($20 million over 20 years)
  • Cultural Preservation Fund ($8 million over 16 years)
  • Dampier Peninsula Fund (this only becomes active if the decision is made to expand the LNG Precinct)

Kimberley Enhancement Scheme

The purpose of the Kimberley Enhancement Scheme (KES) was to address the social impact of the LNG Precinct on the Regional Beneficiaries.  The State were to pay $108 million over 30 years into the Scheme and Woodside were to pay $4 million each year from Project Final Investment Decision until the final year of production.

Regional Beneficiaries

Under the Agreement the Regional Beneficiaries are:

  • the Native Title Party (at the time of the Agreement this was Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr);
  • the Dampier Peninsula Native Title Parties;
  • the Kimberley Native Title Parties; and
  • other Kimberley Indigenous People who are determined by the board to be eligible to be a member.

The Regional Body

Under the Agreement, the KLC was responsible for establishing a Regional Body to support the implementation of the Agreement. The initial objects and responsibilities of the Regional Body were:

  • Establishing and administering the funds under the RBA;
  • If required,holding, managing and transferring land for the benefit of the relevant Claim Group;
  • If required,jointly managing the Conservation and Heritage Areas in conjunction with DEC;
  • Establishing the policy, guidelines, processes and documentation to implement the components of the Regional Benefits;
  • Ensuring that the Regional Benefits are used and distributed equitably amongst the Regional Beneficiaries having regard to the needs and priorities of the Regional Beneficiaries both individually and collectively;
  • Implementing the various components of the Regional Benefits in accordance with the objects and purposes under the Agreement
  • Liaising with government and non-government agencies;
  • Seeking funding from government and non-government agencies for the development of joint initiatives;
  • Monitoring and reviewing the performance of the Browse LNG Precinct Regional Benefits Agreement;
  • Providing annual reports on the performance and outcomes of each component of the Regional Benefits to the State;
  • Performance of its obligations under the Agreement; and
  • Undertaking community development for the benefit of the Regional Beneficiaries including undertaking specific activities relating to the welfare of Regional Beneficiaries for the purpose of:
  • relief of poverty and illness;
  • childcare and care for the aged or disabled;
  • provision of community and social infrastructure; and
  • cultural development.

Between June 2011 and July 2012 the KLC undertook a comprehensive consultation process to get Aarnja up and running. A mass mail out was done to over 1000 Kimberley Aboriginal people encouraging people to sign up to be a member and also calling for nominations to the interim Board. Over 100 people signed up in the first membership drive and more than 40 people nominated themselves to be a part of Aarnja’s first Board of Directors.   The Interim Board of Directors was made up of 10 people from each of the 5 cultural blocs of the Kimberley according to a map endorsed by the Board of the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre in 2010. Initial Directors were appointed based on their knowledge and experience of both the Aboriginal and the karteya worlds with a balance of men and women both young and senior.

Aarnja Limited

The Regional Body has now been established and is called Aarnja Limited – Aarnja being a Bardi word meaning ‘to share’. After Woodside pulled out of the precinct development at James Price Point, there was a lot of uncertainty around Aarnja’s future. The Interim Board, with support from the KLC, worked hard to make sure that the State met their obligations to fund Aarnja’s administration costs. That future is now secure for the next 10 years following those negotiations and a positive response from the State. Aarnja held its first full membership AGM at Jarlmadangah Community in September 2014 and held formal elections for a new Board. Aarnja has also appointed a CEO – David Wirken, and David has been working hard over the last few months to get Aarnja fully operational including the recruitment of a Business Operations Coordinator. Given the benefits from the Regional Benefits Agreement are on hold until such time as a new proponent is found, Aarnja has needed to redefine how it will operate and what it will work on. The Board and the staff have been working on a Strategic Plan that will guide the direction of Aarnja’s operations for the next 5 years. That Strategic Plan is contained within this pack. For more information please contact our office at info@aarnja.org.au or telephone 08 9192 2361.