Category Archives: The Campaign

James Price Point Gas Hub – EPA Submission

In the year 2000 I was amongst the first cohort at RMIT University to walk the Lurujarri Dreaming Trail with the Goolarabooloo traditional owners and gain academic recognition for this learning experience. At the time I was studying a Bachelor of Social Science (Environment) and hoped to move into the profession of Education for Sustainability. Whilst I anticipated that walking the Lurujarri Dreaming Trail would challenge my Western notions of land management and relationship with place, I could not have foreseen how long lasting and profound this experience would be for me on both a personal and professional level.

I completed my undergraduate degree with a complete lack of certainty in anything I had learnt to date. That one experience of being with Goolarabooloo on country made me question everything. It was from that moment that I realised what life-long learning might look like and that listening to Indigenous ways of knowing and being might offer me an opportunity to challenge my worldview and the assumptions I had about ‘reality’.
The generosity and openness with which the Goolarabooloo community receives visitors on their country and the act of walking country as one big mob, creates a powerful context for learning.
Since 2000 I have tried to unpack and quantify what it is about walking Trail that has impacted on me so deeply and indelibly shaped the direction my life has taken. I have practiced as a Sustainability Educator at primary, secondary and tertiary levels over the last decade; underpinning this teaching has been the burning question of, how does our connection to place shape our way of being in the world? The act of collectively walking country on Trail and what is happening at a deeper level, beyond an exploration of practical reconciliation, cannot easily be described. Developing an understanding of what is happening through this collective act has become a major focus for me in my professional life, as I am now undertaking a Masters by Research at Charles Darwin University to explore how being with country is shaping place-making in the 21st Century.
Every few years I return to Goolarabooloo country to walk Trail and keep learning from country and its custodians. I was fortunate to meet past Goolarabooloo custodian Paddy Roe OAM before he passed away. His vision for bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians so that we could walk and care for country together resonates throughout every walking of the Lurujarri Dreaming Trail. On my last visit to this country in July 2012 I spoke with one of Paddy’s great-grandsons about his vision for reconciliation. He told me that Paddy’s vision, “is always alive, it is never dying and never dead; this one man’s vision is everyone’s vision, we’ll keep it going.” For this I am very grateful.

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Spreading the word

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July 24, 2012 · 5:01 am

Letter to the Editor

Re: Lack of integrity to EPA process for JPP

I recently found out that only one of the board members appointed to the James Prices Point EPA investigation does not have a conflict of interest with the proposed Gas Hub project. I was shocked and very disappointed that such a huge proposed development, and approval process, could be left so vulnerable and with such little independent scrutiny. I have always upheld the belief that the EPA should be free of bias and a truly independent authority that has the capacity to advise the WA Government from this position of strength.

With such tremendous community opposition to the JPP Gas Hub project, this state of affairs makes a further mockery of the due approvals/planning process that should be followed in order to take into deep consideration the interwoven Indigenous, environmental, economic and social implications.

It clear to me that the EPA’s investigation into the impacts of the proposed gas hub at JPP must process must be carried out again, with a new Board that comprises of members who are all free of a conflict of interest with regards to this project.

Nia Emmanouil
c/o Coconut Wells

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The campaign

Coming back to Broome in anticipation of walking the Lurujarri songline with Goolarabooloo, all conversations lead in someway to the No Gas campaign. This year preparations for the Trail (the yearly walk along the songline) seem less tenuous than last year. People have a bit more certainty that we wont get shut out of country by development proponents. So much energy is being invested in defending this country, protecting future generations’ right to maintain connections. Court cases, community actions, meetings, whale monitoring, merging conversations… there is a big groundswell of action to land in. I haven’t really had any role to play in the campaign apart from being a supporter and spreading the message of Goolarabooloo and Broome families that they love their country/place and want to keep it free from industrialisation. Sitting here on Goolarabooloo country now, I feel a sense of guilt, a voice from within telling me I should be ‘doing more’.

Last year I was here for such a short time, I tried to focus my energies on just being fully present here and on loving this place. Is that enough? Does that make any difference? Are there legitimate and illegitimate ways of loving and caring for place/country? I guess that this spin into the dualism of right and wrong comes from a place of comparing.

One thing I am sure of is that walking the songline and action to protect the songline and connections with country are inseparable…

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We love this place

I took this photo on the 5th July 2011 at the Manari Road Blockade north of Broome, a day later named Black Tuesday (click here for more info: http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2011/07/05/3261383.htm).

I had never read this article (from the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) before and during the day kept coming back to this banner, reading, re-reading and feeling so many things. I asked myself, is there any hope that such a declaration will genuinely be acknowledged by Australian governments and corporate interests, even the populous?

On this day people from all cultural, political and economic backgrounds came together to stand up for country – more specifically, Walmadany (James Prices Point) and the west Kimberley. We were all saying by being there, that we love this country. The question I am still left with… how am I, a non-Indigenous woman, and my immaterial connections with country visible, legitimized?

I didn’t talk much that day and have not written about it at all. Although I was there I strangely felt like an observer. I heard many people tell their stories of love and connection to country to police/riot squad members, in a bid to try and speak to the compassionate being that we hope is in us all. Each story was different but all essentially tried to voice the intention, ‘I love this place. I want to stay connected.’

A hypothetical… what if we were all Indigenous? We must be from somewhere. Collective struggles against land grabbing, like the Kimberley ‘No Gas’ campaign, are being played out around the world. Enmeshed in the these collective acts of trying to ‘protect’ country must be countless stories of being with…

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