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KLC members issue warning - don’t be left behind on
Fitzroy RIver talks

Members of the Kimberley’s oldest and largest Indigenous land rights organisation have spoken out about their concerns for the future of the Fitzroy River at a recent on country meeting.

During the Kimberley Land Council AGM at Home Valley Station, members passed a resolution calling for a consultation process for all native title holders impacted by decisions regarding the Fitzroy River.

KLC Deputy CEO Tyronne Garstone said the resolution highlighted the serious fears of Traditional Owners for the future of the Fitzroy River and its tributaries.

“Traditional Owners all over the Kimberley are expressing their concerns about the ever-increasing development pressure on the Fitzroy River,” Mr Garstone said.

“Our members are telling us they are worried. They know people want access to the river for irrigation and other development purposes and they understand the risk that places on the long-term health of the river.”

The Fitzroy River catchment received National Heritage Listing in 2011 for its cultural and environmental values. Mr Garstone said it is the preservation and protection of these values that are at the heart of Traditional Owners’ concerns.

“The Fitzroy River is living water – it is the lifeblood of the Kimberley,” he said.

KLC Director Wayne Bergman acknowledged the effort of the WA Government to consult with Traditional Owners, but said outstanding issues remained.

“We recognise the State Government’s attempt at consulting, but the reality is many people remain unaware of the proposals for the Fitzroy River or simply have not been given a seat at the table,” he said.

“This includes those native title holders located at the end of the river in saltwater country who are largely absent from the current engagement method.

“Aboriginal people have native title rights throughout the entirety of the river and should have as much say as any other stakeholder about the future of this significant river system.

“We are calling for a consultation process, driven by the KLC, our representative body, to bring us altogether to discuss this adequately and as a matter of urgency.

“We urge the State Government and all other interested parties to heed these concerns and listen to the wishes of Kimberley Traditional Owners.

“Our connection to the Fitzroy River is through our culture and this needs to be a priority.”