Day 21 review:

Proper and best-practice engagement with indigenous communities was further discussed during today’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission public hearing.

Topic 13 covers “Community engagement and nuclear facilities – engagement with Aboriginal communities”. Today’s witnesses explored current processes both within Australia and internationally.

The topic will again be investigated on Monday, November 16 when a panel of experts will give evidence, with a specific focus on lessons learned from past practices, including from Maralinga Tjarutja and Yalata communities.

Today’s first witness was Bob Watts, Nuclear Waste Management Organization from Canada. Mr Watts is the Associate Vice President of Aboriginal Relations for NWMO, an organisation established in 2002 in accordance with Canada’s Nuclear Fuel Waste Act to assume responsibility for the long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel. Mr Watts is also a Fellow and Adjunct Professor at the School of Policy Studies at Queens University. Throughout his career Mr Watts has focused on strengthening Canada’s First Nations institutions. He has previously served as the CEO of the Assembly of First Nations and as the Interim Executive Director of the Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He covered:

  • The role and mandate of NWMO in Canada
  • The “Adaptive Phase Management” decision-making approach
  • Aboriginal community engagement by NWMO.

Mr Parry Agius, Alinytjara Wilurara Natural Resources Management Board, appeared in the afternoon session. He is Presiding Member of the Alinytjara Wilurara Natural Resources Management Board (Alinytjara Wilurara NRM Board). The Alinytjara Wilurara NRM Board was established under the Natural Resources Management Act in 2004 and is comprised of Aboriginal voting members. A key aspect of the Board’s role is supporting effective communication and partnerships with organisations, agencies, communities, traditional owners, elders and individuals to manage the environment for mutual benefit. The Alinytjara Wilurara NRM region encompasses the north west third of South Australia (including Yalata lands, Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands, and Maralinga Tjarutja lands). His evidence focused on:

  • Lessons learned from past Aboriginal engagement processes in Australia
  • Models for local investment, skills development and training
  • Methods and timeframes for achieving a deeper level of consultation with Aboriginal communities.

Video and transcripts of each session will be uploaded into the Public Sessions archive.

The next public session is on Monday, November 16, 2015, in the Commission’s office, 50 Grenfell St, Adelaide.

Click here for topic and witness list for this session which covers Topic 13 – Community engagement and nuclear facilities.