Mugarinya Community Association’s success streak

Host: Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development — Aboriginal Business Development Project
Written by Daisy Goodwin, Development Officer

Yandeyarra Pastoral Station is an Aboriginal reserve in the Pilbara region of WA. In 2006, Yandeyarra requested support from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s ‘Pilbara Indigenous Landholder Service’ (PILS) — now the Aboriginal Business Development project. PILS provided a pastoral production support service that was suitable, readily available and easily accessible to Pilbara Indigenous Pastoral Managers. Yandeyarra now independently carries out ongoing property and herd development and is working towards creating an Indigenous cattle production supply chain.

PILS officer, Kim Carter, supported Yandeyarra in multiple areas. For example, administration and governance training to assist compliance to statutory land management requirements. Training and extension work in pastoral and business management were completed, the outcomes of which can be seen in Yandeyarra’s progress since.

Cattle in the Yards during muster time on Yandeyarra.

Mining companies require access to the property to carry out exploration and development activities. As such, Yandeyarra also required support in stakeholder engagement. PILS assisted in developing sustainable relationships and agreed land access partnerships with these companies to provide beneficial development outcomes for the property.

Yandeyarra faced many challenges along the way to becoming a viable operation. PILS assisted with relevant planning that enabled the group to develop and maximise production opportunities. This planning covered an extensive range of topics including environmental properties (soil types, hydrology, topography, native animals and plants, conservation), areas of heritage value and cultural significance, business options, infrastructure and carbon farming opportunities. Plans were produced relating to sustainable rangeland management, stakeholder engagement, property management, conservation and mining offsets.

Completing these plans gave Yandeyarra  a clear vision for the future and what they would need to become a prospering business. PILS was able to use these plans to build an application for significant support funds from BHP under their Community Development Program. Yandeyarra was successful in their application and put this new found funding to use immediately. They employed a pastoral manager — Ian Hayes — to assist them with their development.

Since this time, Yandeyarra have become empowered and have independently achieved multiple feats on their properties.  In 2014 Ian produced a property plan for the following two years. The plan outlined infrastructure improvements (139km of fencing, water point repairs and yards for 1000 head) and a future breeding program. It included an Ecosystem Management Understanding (EMU) process in which staff would record the history of the station from elders, details of where stock graze and areas of the property best for grazing. The aim is to encourage staff to be proud of their history, inspire them to leave the property in better condition for the next generation, reduce land degradation and strengthen bonds between older and younger generations.

Greening Australia partnered with Yandeyarra station and community to establish a ranger team to carry out the EMU process. Funding for the program was awarded last year by the State Natural Resource Management Program under the ‘Community Capability Grant Scheme’. The program will be run in ten, one-week blocks over the next 12 to 18 months and will focus on a range of different topics including fire, local fauna surveys and monitoring, local plant and seed collection, and protection of cultural sites. Between August and November female Aboriginal school children of all ages and elders will be participating in the program. They will go onto the property for three days at a time so elders can teach the next generation of their culture.

The property plan also included a staff management plan which outlined the employment of six staff and a mentor. All of the staff would also be working towards a Certificate III in Agriculture. The new yards will be put in at the end of the year and Ian has ensured that the contractors employ two of his staff to assist. This will contribute to their Certificate II in Agriculture. Staff have also had the opportunity to participate in training such as first aid, horse riding and livestock handling.

Ian plans on completing multiple trips to different areas so employees can experience what happens to cattle once they leave the property. He is currently organising a trip to Emerald in regional Queensland to educate staff in supply chain workings.

As a part of the staff management plan, there are currently five high school students completing work experience on the station two day a week. “They love coming out to the property. I tell them they can’t come unless they go to school for the whole three days before. Their grades have improved and they are putting in a lot of effort’ says Ian.

Yandeyarra have advanced by leaps and bounds since their first contact with PILS in 2006. They continue to improve their property and herd development and have impressive plans for the future. One goal will be creating an Indigenous cattle production supply chain. They are working towards sending cattle from Yandeyarra to Beemurra Aboriginal Corporartion on Yallalie farm in the Mid-West. Here they will be on property backgrounded prior to marketing. Previously, Yandeyarra only sent cattle to feedlots, meaning they only had market access for three months of the year. In sending cattle to Yallalie as well, they will have access for ten months instead, value adding their product. Through support from PILS and bucket loads of determination, Yandeyarra has become a self-sufficient, viable business with a great future ahead of them.

 

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