Warumungu land – 1982 and Native Title 2018

The Warumungu land claim was made under the Commonwealth of Australia’s 1976 Aboriginal Land Claim (NT) Act. I was one of the original researchers employed by the Central Land Council and i worked very closely with the senior lawmen.

It was abundantly clear that they regarded their country as involving far more than the ‘unalienated’ Crown which was available to claim under the Act. Most of their best living country was under Pastoral lease. They had not ceded this land.

When, as Senior Anthropologist (Land Claims), i wrote my part of the land claim book (1982) i included a suggestion that the Aboriginal Land Commissioner – who had to undertake an extensive formal hearing with the ‘claimant’ traditional owners – that he also exercise another of his functions under the Act to examine the extend of likely claims to ‘alienated’ Crown land. See extract below.

This caused something of a stir – not least among a few non-indigenous power brokers back in the Alice Springs Central Land Council office. Eventually i was sidelined from representing the senior lawmen and replaced by a new researcher – steady hands which could be trusted to comply with the existing status quo a la Anglo-Australia.

A replacement land claim ‘guide’ was produced which kept a tight focus on the wastelands of the Crown – land which had not been sought by cattlemen for a hundred years.

Ironically, with the High Court’s recognition of native title in 1992 and the subsequent Native Title Act, there are now investigations required to find out who are the native title holders for some the pastoral leases. These matters could have received excellent coverage in the early 1980s had the proper course of events been allowed to run its course.

Extract from the 1982 Warumungu Land Claim book:

Warumungu 1982001

Native Title notice:

DC2017_003 CLEAN COPYWarumungu 1982001

Bruce (Japaljari) Reyburn

April 2018.






Fractal image of ‘English only’ life in Northern Territory in 21st C


“A Northern Territory Aboriginal Minister has her request to speak her first language, Warlpiri, in Parliament denied after the NT Speaker declared the language of the assembly is English.”

Full story


Some background info on Indigenous Men’s Conference shakers and movers

(Bess) “Price has strongly criticised the high levels of violence in Central Australian indigenous communities and supported the Northern Territory Intervention.[10] In December 2009 she delivered the Bennelong Society’s inaugural Peter Howson lecture, also on the topic of indigenous violence, and received the Bennelong Medal[11] She spoke at the Centre for Independent Studies, Sydney, on 23 March 2011[12] and appeared on ABC television show Q&A on 11 April 2011.[13] On Q&A, Price said that she supported the Intervention.[14]”

Conference organisers:
MEES Australia trading as Indigenous Conference Services (ICS) is mainly an Indigenous not for profit enterprise. We have over thirty years experience in conference and event management. We are pleased to say that we have hundreds of events to our credit, not only in Australia but internationally as well.

Our Koorie Indigenous and CEO comes from Kempsey in Dainggati county of NSW. Other members are from Indigenous convention groups in the Philippines & Thailand. In total, we have over 30 years of experience specializing in Indigenous events.

Mees works with:
The Eduarda Foundation
Mrs. Eduarda Acabo Edubas is the woman behind the Eduarda Foundation’s strong alliance among women victims of domestic violence to move on. She had been a victim of domestic violence for many years since she’s 16 years old and until now being married to the same man, her perpetrator husband.
She gathered vulnerable women in her community under her wings, taught them how to move on, empowered them to be independent. The Eduarda Foundation has grown from 5 members to more than 30 adult women whom have tried their best to tackle their family issues as well as providing for their children. 


Men’s business conference?

The first instruction i had from senior Warumungu/Alyawarra lawmen in the NT (1980) was “A man does not get around among women”. I was watched for a year or so to see how i shaped up.
Central Australian indigenous men’s domain is never to be confused with the domain of women and uninitiated men (indigenous or otherwise)  
Now, look at this keynote address at an “indigenous men’s conference” which holders of Basics Cards will not be able to afford, attend  let alone be properly heard and respected:

The 2015 National Indigenous Men’s Network Conference Agenda

DAY ONE (28th September 2015)


9:00 AM Welcome to Country by Traditional Elder

9:30 AM Welcome Address & Formal Opening Keynote by Hon. Bess Price, Minister for Women’s and Men’s Policy, Community Services, Local Government, Parks & Wildlife, Northern Territory


Just who is empowered by the expensive conferences – which systematically exclude and disempower senior indigenous lawmen? 
Rampant ethnocide more like it.

Make up your own mind at:


For the record – copy of Central Land Council letter re audio tapes

clc audio tape let bwAs part of my recent trip to the Northern Territory I took to opportunity to place some audio tapes into the care of the Central Land Council.

I made these field recordings in the early 1980s with senior Warumungu and Alyawarra men when I was engaged/employed by the Central Land Council to assist these men prepare and present their ‘traditional Aboriginal land claim’ (as defined by the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act 1976).

As these tapes were getting old, they needed to be properly cared for if they might be useful for the families of those men. The CLC undertook to digitalise the tapes, as well as to agree to some other conditions regarding potential future use.









Cost of one day transcript In Muckaty case – $1,374.12

I was told by a lawyer for the applicants that the evidence by a Warlmanpa senior man given at Muckaty Outstation on Saturday 14 June 2014 was particularly good.

As i could not attend that day, and these Federal court proceedings are recorded, i thought i could catch up by reading the transcript.

Quote for cost of a transcript, “as supplied to the other parties” – $1,374.12 .

I do not regard this as at all reasonable. Under the previous Commonwealth transcription service, in the early 1980s, copies were 5cents a page.

Even i (the very antithesis of money) could afford thousands of pages of the Warumungu land claim transcript.

Copyright conditions attached to copies of transcripts supplied to other parties can prevent them from sharing the information.

See, for example, http://www.fedcourt.gov.au/case-management-services/access-to-files-and-transcripts/transcript/non-party-access

And you cannot get simple copies of the audio materials – to listen for yourself and forego the transcriptions costs.

At these prices it was far cheaper for me to fly from Sydney to Alice Springs (return); accommodation in Alice Springs (2 nights); hire car for 1,000 km return trip Alice Springs – Tennant Creek; 5 nights accommodation in Tennant Creek to hear four days of Warlmanpa evidence than to stay home and buy a copy of the transcript of those 4 days. There is something seriously wrong with this Federal Court transcription pricing for members of the public (aka non-party)!

Members of the public are increasingly being denied access to the working of our systems of justice by such mean$.

I have no doubt that runaway capitalism will eventually cannibalise itself, but – alas – not in this lifetime.

Access to anthropological materials in #Muckaty #wasteontrial case – Ye olde bum’s rush

From: Bruce Reyburn
Date: Wednesday, 28 August 2013
Subject: Could you let me know in writing decision re access to restricted doc in VID433/2010
To: “e…@fedcourt.gov.au”

Hi E…

Thanks for phone call the other day regarding the decision to allow access to the restricted anthropological report in Mark Lane Jangala and others v CoA and others.

I understand that I will be allowed access after the report has been formally lodged in the proceedings, now set down of June 2014. Please advise if my understanding is incorrect.

For the sake of clarity, could you provide me with a brief email detailing the decision, as I may have to wait until next year, and a written record of the decision to allow access could be handy when seeking to see the report.



Dear Mr Reyburn,

Justice North’s decision in this matter was as follows:

The anthropological expert report/s filed on 14 August 2013 may be searched by Robert Bruce Reyburn, but not until they have been read in open Court.



Federal Court of Australia | Victoria Registry

305 William St Melbourne VIC

From: Bruce Reyburn
Date: Tuesday, 3 June 2014
Subject: Could you let me know in writing decision re access to restricted doc in VID433/2010
To: E

Dear E…

This case, Vid433/2010 is now underway before Justice North.

Is it now possible for me to obtain a copy of the anthropological report(s) filed on 14 August 2013 in keeping with His Honour’s earlier decision (see above)?

Please advise.



Dear Mr Reyburn,

The matter is still in the opening submission stage, and no evidence has yet been tendered. The reports are unlikely to be searchable until much later in the hearing process, if at all before the matter has been fully heard.



Thanks E…

That is not how i understand Justice North’s decision.

“The anthropological expert report/s filed on 14 August 2013 may be searched by Robert Bruce Reyburn, but not until they have been read in open Court.”

Is there some means by which i can obtain specific clarification from the Victorian Federal Court about what “not until they have been read in open court” means (in standard English)?



Dear Mr Reyburn,

The answer is that once the reports have been tendered as exhibits, and the evidence in regards to the reports has been given they have been considered to be ‘read in open court’. As stated in my previous email, the matter has not proceeded to that point as yet.

The process of those reports being read out in Court must be complete – and the Judge not require them for the purposes of hearing the matter – before you will be able to search the documents.

Both I and Justice North’s Chambers are aware of your request, and you will be contacted once the documents are available for you to search.



Thanks E…

I appreciate the crisp clarification.

I will be travelling to Tennant Creek next week to listen to the evident of Warlmanpa people – to the extent it is open to the public.

Looking forward to comparing these two two parts of this matter when due process allows.



From: Bruce Reyburn
Date: Thursday, 19 June 2014
Subject: Could you let me know in writing decision re access to restricted doc in VID433/2010
To: E

Hi E…

I understand from the media this case will be concluded formally tomorrow.

My request to read the Anthropological report(s) of the applicants (as previously discussed) remains.

I take it His Honour J North no longer requires them for the purposes of hearing this matter.

Please advise as to what i need to do next.



Dear Mr Reyburn,

I have asked the Judge’s staff to let me know when they will be available. I will contact you when I have that information.

The usual process is that you would be required to attend to inspect (there is a $43 fee payable for the production of any part of the file). If you have been allowed to inspect and copy, you make the copies in our office and pay the production fee, plus $1 per copy made of the documents.



thanks E…

As i live in Wollongong, NSW, can i inspect the materials in the Federal Court in Sydney?

Please advise.



From: E…
Date: Wednesday, 25 June 2014
Subject: Could you let me know in writing decision re access to restricted doc in VID433/2010
To: Bruce Reyburn

Dear Mr Reyburn,

I have spoken further with the Chambers of Justice North regarding the release of the documents you requested.

The matter was settled before these documents were read out in open Court, therefore the conditions set for the release of these documents to you by the Court have not been met.

It has been suggested that you contact the parties to the proceeding to request access to the documents if you wish to take your enquiries further.