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Bigambul Nation Planning – Cultural Flows

By Announcements and Community News

Since commencing our water management project in the last half of the 2018/2019 financial year, BNTAC has undertaken significant activity in the development of the Bigambul Nation Planning – Cultural Flows – Gulli Wongul Nation Plan.


The Bigambul Cultural Flows Working Group undertook significant Nation Planning activity, which was funded and supported by the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN). Through the Bigambul Nation Planning Working Group, Stage one has been completed and Stage Two mapped and developed.


A key component of the nation planning and cultural flows process involved the Working Group identifying Our Nation’s spiritual, cultural, environmental, social and economic objectives for the Bigambul sites of significance. Sites of significance identified include:

  • Inglewood Grinding Grooves
  • Boobera Lagoon
  • Lees Reserve
  • Old Camp and Turtle Bend – Toobeah
  • Sandy Beach


This represents an ongoing and continuous work priority for BNTAC.



What BNTAC are doing to preserve our waterways

By Announcements and Community News

In 2018/2019, Our Nation came together for the purpose of the implementation of the Aboriginal Waterways Assessment program (AWA). The AWA Tool allowed Our Nation to consistently measure and prioritise river and wetland health, so that we are better placed to plan, identify and negotiate Our Country’s water needs.


Rigorous mechanisms (beyond the usual economic and environmental indicators) that help explain the importance of water to particular places were critical for effective involvement of Our People in water planning processes. Over the course of the initial undertaking of the AWA, participants visited extra sites of significance, informing their knowledge of up and downstream impacts, threats and other characteristics of Bigambul Country. The following sties of significance assessed under the AWA program include:

  • The Town Common
  • Bondi on the McIntyre River
  • Inglewood Grinding Grooves on the McIntyre Brook
  • Booba Sands on the McIntyre Brook
  • Keetah Bridge on the Dumaresq River
  • Welltown on the Yarrillwanna Creek
  • Old Camp – Toobeah on the Weir River
  • Turtle Bend on the Yarrillwanna Creek


The outcomes and findings of the AWA are contained in the Bigambul Nation Report prepared by consultants, Murawin, contracted by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Lands and Water Division (DPIE Water).


The report outlines the process and findings of consultations undertaken with representatives of the Bigambul Nation for the development of a Water Resource Plan (WRP) for accreditation by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, under requirements of Chapter 10 of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.


The final report outlines the stakeholder engagement and consultation process and methodology undertaken and makes recommendations for future collaboration with the Bigambul people for caring for Country with particular reference to the rivers and waterways. It presents findings on the objectives and outcomes expressed by Bigambul people for the ongoing management of their water-dependent cultural, environmental, economic and social values and uses. Most recent consultations as part of the AWA also extended on previous Queensland Government consultations to the Bigambul nation conducted in 2017 in relation to the development of the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy ‘Aboriginal People’s Water Needs in the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin’ report (released in 2018); meaning there was an existing foundation of evidence to assist in informing, planning and mobilising the AWA process.


The report unpacks and identifies the value(s) and use(s) of our wetlands and waterways to Bigambul people based on previous and most recent consultation outcomes, including from the perspective of social, cultural, spiritual, environmental and economic life domains. The key values / uses that emerged included:

  • The Bigambul people have always valued the waterways as key meeting places, important for ceremonies and family gatherings. These gatherings are used as opportunities to pass on knowledge, teach children and tell stories which connect them to their ancestors.
  • The Bigambul people value the position of the creeks and rivers as important for the transmission of culture and ceremonial purposes, such as sharing information and initiations, and song-lines.
  • The Bigambul people recognise the importance of respecting and protecting the native fish species and turtles which live in the waterways.
  • The Bigambul people utilise parts of the water system for cultural reasons, e.g. using native flora and fauna in making weapons and tools
  • The Bigambul people recognise the importance of clean water for swimming, drinking and continuing traditional fishing practices (spearing fish from trees)
  • The Bigambul people, historically and contemporarily, value the use of water for cultural sites, e.g. Narran Lakes
  • The Bigambul people utilise clean water from the waterways for cultural men’s and women’s Business
  • The Bigambul people recognise the interconnectedness of water, and its role in maintain healthy natural systems.


The report also identifies cultural /socio-political; health and wellbeing; economic; and environmental risks / impacts associated with our waterways, and respective mapped responses needed to combat / mitigate these factors. Outcomes of this process exemplified the importance of ensuring targeted, strategic action for the health and preservation of our Nation’s waterways now and into the future. In addition to presenting the scientific / environmental and economic aspects of risk and impact and their associated response strategies, close attention was also paid to mapping key considerations and needed action regarding the centrality of our waterways and wetlands to the preservation and promotion of Bigambul culture and connection; and subsequent impacts on the health and social and emotional wellbeing of Bigambul people.


These steps / processes and their documented findings also helped to inform and identify what constitute the current and future self-directed objectives and outcome targets for the Bigambul nation in relation to our wetlands and waterways (see Table 1.).

Table 1. Summary of BNTAC’s outcome objectives

Our community-led objectives and outcome targets reflect key strategic directions as mapped and identified by the AWA process and final report, including:

  1. Agreements for access with land owners that allow Bigambul people to walk the country and practice cultural responsibilities
  2. Participation of Bigambul Nation in water literacy programs to enable effective management of water.
  3. A simplification of the water and licencing system to enable participation
  4. Take the lead role in reform of the system on Bigambul land.
  5. Support from State and Federal Governments in recognising that Bigambul Nation knowledge can lead the way in water reform, including funding a position within Bigambul Nation responsible for water resource management
  6. Education and career paths for Bigambul people around water management, including:
    1. Rangers
    2. Environmental Protection Officers
    3. Resource Managers
  7. Involvement in decision making around all water use and flows.
  8. Being granted cultural access licenses and develop policies on cultural flows
  9. Enhancing relationships with other users of water, including other Nations. This could include:
    1. The establishment of forums for discussion with neighbouring Nations
    2. Respect of all water knowledge, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal
    3. Establishing Regional Councils with membership that represents all water users

2019 Bigambul Youth Summit

By Announcements and Community News


This community news report follows the Bigambul 2019 Youth Summit; held over 5days between October 27 and October 1, 2019 in Goondiwindi.


Bigambul Native Title Aboriginal Corporation (BNTAC) would like to acknowledge the financial contribution provided by QGC Shell that supported the convening and delivery of the 2019 Bigambul Native Title Youth Summit.


We would also like to acknowledge the contribution of Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) – Inland Rail.


Special thanks and acknowledgement also go to Bigambul Elders who participated as part of the event’s delivery over the 5-days. We would also like to thank and acknowledge participating young people and our emerging leaders for their attendance, commitment and contribution to the Summit.


The fundamental aim of the Bigambul 2019 Youth Summit was to engage Bigambul young people as part of 5-days of dynamic and interactive Nation Building. Key underpinning objectives included:

  • Facilitating opportunity for a representative group of Bigambul young people to come together to engage in cultural learnings, knowledge transfer and skill and capability development
  • Actively supporting the cultural and social connection and identity of Bigambul young people, and engagement of the next generation as part of native title and nation building
  • Promote and facilitate the cultural, social and economic aspirations and participation of Bigambul young people
  • Provide tangible opportunity to receive the views and input of young people on their needs, aspirations and priorities, so that the voice of our youth is heard and represented as part of current and future strategies and actions
  • Develop the foundation for the establishment of an ongoing Bigambul Youth Advisory Council that will continue to operate beyond cessation of funding

The primary intended outcomes/outputs to result from the Summit included:

  • Development of a comprehensive post Summit report documenting key outcomes and recommendations resulting from the Summit, including the outcomes of the Bigambul 2019 Young People’s Survey
  • The Bigambul Young People’s Strategy – to be developed based around the outcomes and recommendations of this report and also the leadership and contribution of the now formed Youth Advisory Council
  • Establishment of the Bigambul Youth Advisory Council


BNTAC received a total of twenty-five (25) registrations from interested young people to attend the Bigambul 2019 Youth Summit. From the twenty-five young people that registered, fourteen (14) were able to attend.


The Summit was co-facilitated by BNTAC Youth Directors, Lilly Graham and Brenton Sefo-Wallace, in combination with presentations by BNTAC Executive Director, Justin Saunders, and sessions, presentations and group workshops led by Bhiamie Williamson and Stacey Little from the Australian Institute for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).


Key outcomes / take-aways resulting from the 5-day Summit and the feedback and contribution of Bigambul young people, included:

  1. Antecedents for a youth safe space whereby young people felt comfortable and confident to express themselves, included: respect and being open and receptive to questions; effective communication; confidence and not being shame; a principle of no wrong answers or questions; support and encouragement for one another; being active learners and contributors.
  2. In exploring what it means to be Bigambul, young people identified the importance of culture, land and water, the importance of working on country, language; and cultural awareness and knowledge of our traditions – including Men’s and Women’s business. With this also came the collective frustration at the loss of knowledge and the impact of our nation’s history. They also identified opportunities to maximise the freedom’s that Bigambul young people experience today, through Native Title rights.
  • The former connected to identified barriers / challenges holding the Bigambul nation back; with cultural paralysis and a lack of knowledge across and transfer between generations highlighted as a lead factor. Other identified issues included: previous lack of opportunities to come together; divisions at the family and community levels (i.e. factionism) and lateral violence; trauma; lack of understanding of Native Title and Indigenous corporations; and distance and travel.
  1. The latter connected to what was a consistent point raised through the Summit, which was the advocated need, use and place for a dedicated place / space on Country for young people / Bigambul community members to be able to visit and stay on.
  2. The day on Country with Elders provided positive and active opportunity for youth to actively engage in learning and connecting with country, water, culture and each other. Feedback highlighted the particular appreciation of having this opportunity – with many youth delegates expressing they had not had an opportunity like this before.
  3. Antecedents for effective leadership as identified by Bigambul young people, included:
    1. Listening to your people
    2. Being united in our Vision
    3. Passion
    4. “Bigambul leadership should bring Bigambul people together”
  • Extending on the former, expectations by young people of being a Bigambul leader, included:
    1. Confidence
    2. Support and patience
    3. Time management and efficiency
    4. Motivation and passion
    5. Respect and positivity
    6. Knowledge, understanding – inter-generational
    7. Active communication
    8. Social awareness
  • Being a strong leader also means being strong in identity. Key enablers for strong identity as expressed by Bigambul young people, included: having a strong voice; knowledge and learning; knowing your language; connection; understanding traditional lore; adaptability; connecting to country; and healing – of self and collectively.
  1. There were common themes expressed by young people as being their priorities and aspirations. Highlighted themes, include:
    1. The importance of knowledge seeking and continuous learning – including in regard to culture, language and country
    2. Study, training/education and employment
    3. Learning more about Native Title
    4. Being rich in family and community
    5. United in vision for our Nation
    6. Confidence and strong voice
    7. Having a base on Country to come to
  2. Commonly reported obstacles and challenges associated with young people achieving their aspirations, included:
    1. Skills and knowledge shortfalls and gaps
    2. Lack of confidence
    3. Support and networks
    4. Funds and resources
    5. Suitable agreements
    6. Cultural knowledge
    7. Distance and planning
    8. Self (mental obstacles)
  3. Key reported strategies needed to support young people in achieving their priorities and aspirations, included:
    1. Having a base on country
    2. Formation of a Bigambul Youth Advisory Council
    3. More development, training and work opportunities
    4. Opportunities for work through Native Title
    5. Strategic partnerships
  • Priorities for the Bigambul nation and BNTAC as expressed by young people primarily centred around:
    1. More work and economic development opportunities
    2. More dedicated youth programs and establishment of the Bigambul Youth Advisory Council
    3. More working on country opportunities
    4. Convening the Bigambul Youth Summit as an annual event
    5. Development of a Bigambul Youth Engagement Strategy
    6. Broader community engagement and reach
  • The Youth Advisory Council was established as a key outcome of the Summit. Seven (7) nominations were received and accepted. The scope of the group will be to:
    1. Allow youth an embedded mechanism to have their say
    2. Engage with broader community
    3. Bring young people together
    4. Organise the annual Youth Summit
    5. Report to the Board


These outcomes were supplemented by key findings from the Bigambul Young People’s Survey and Post Summit Feedback form. The post-Summit feedback form elicited the following key trends:

  1. Ninety per cent (90%) of youth delegates reported their Summit experience as being ‘Excellent’.
  2. The way family came together; being on and connecting with Country; and learning about our nation’s history, were again lead self-reported outcomes / take-aways by participants. Participants also expressed their enjoyment of being able to speak and express themselves freely.
  • Suggested Summit improvements largely connected with the verbal Summit feedback provided on day 5, with suggestions for: more family involvement; more activities; ensuring this is an annual event for future generations; and increasing next events’ engagement and reach.
  1. Ninety per cent (90%) of participants expressed they would be interested in being contacted by BNTAC for future engagement opportunities.


The survey also sought to obtain further input around Young People’s priorities’ and aspirations, now and into the future. Key priorities for the Bigambul Nation as identified by Young People, include:

  1. Climate and environment
  2. Training, education and employment
  3. Mental health and social and emotional wellbeing
  4. Drug and alcohol related issues
  5. Safety
  6. Poverty and disadvantage
  7. Health and physical wellbeing
  8. Housing


These and other outcomes were merged with verbal feedback and input provided over the Summit’s 5-days, to develop a comprehensive report and set of recommendations.


Based on the key findings and outcomes resulting from the Bigambul 2019 Youth Summit and the Young People’s Survey and Summit Feedback Form, the following key recommendations were developed:

  1. The Bigambul Youth Summit event should be established as an annual initiative by BNTAC for current future generations, with the Bigambul Youth Advisory Council to take a lead role in the planning, coordination and delivery of subsequent years’ events.
  2. Extending on the former, maintain momentum of the Bigambul Youth Advisory Council now that it is established, including progress to coordinate a first meeting of the Council to:
    1. Develop a Terms of Reference and mutually agreed Council Rules
    2. Meeting frequency
    3. Social media and communication platforms
    4. Roles and responsibilities
    5. Scope available funding and resource supports for the Council
  3. Develop a Bigambul Young People’s Engagement Strategy that outlines a clear plan for the current and future engagement of Bigambul young people.
  4. Develop a dedicated Bigambul Young People’s Strategy that articulates our youth’s united vision for our Nation; and responds to the mapped personal and collective priorities, aspirations and challenges of Bigambul young people – as expressed over the Summit’s 5 days and based on mapped priorities from the Young People’s Survey. This will be progressed with and through the Bigambul Young People’s Advisory Council.
  5. BNTAC to continue to explore and grow training, education and employment opportunities for Bigambul Young people – including through expanded strategic relationships and agreements; and maximisation of Native Title rights and working on country opportunities.
  6. BNTAC to scope and explore opportunities to have a dedicated space / place on Country for young people where they can come and visit / stay.


To access videos regarding the Summit and profiling of specific activities undertaken (i.e. Our day on Country) please follow the below media links:






BNTAC would like to offer special thanks to QGC for supplying a videographer to record and compile the above resources.




2018 / 2019 Highlights

By Announcements and Community News

2018/2019 was a year of significant progress and developments for BNTAC – with continual work being undertaken in the post-determination space to develop internal capacity and capability; and to also begin to expand and diversify our work program in line with our PBC functions and based on the united Vision and priorities of the Bigambul nation and community.


The last twelve months’ strategic and operational work programs have been guided and directed by BNTAC’s five Key Result Areas (KRAs):

  1. Maintain rigorous corporate governance practices that are culturally inclusive, accountable and transparent.
  2. Invest in the preservation and advancement of historical and traditional lands, cultural knowledge and practices and promote Bigambul connection to country;
  3. Leverage commercial opportunities to build the economic strength of the Bigambul people;
  4. Build the skills and capacity of Bigambul people through expanded training opportunities;
  5. Bolster and maintain BNTAC capabilities in moving toward self-sufficiency.


In addition to undertaking a Constitutional Review and implementing a number of new provisions and monitoring and management procedures, BNTAC has undertaken targeted efforts to maintain rigorous corporate governance practices.


In addition to securing BNTAC’s Charitable Status and PBI status and becoming GST registered; we have also developed a dedicated BNTAC Communication Strategy, including targeted measures to achieve a locally inclusive and united approach / vision for our nation; established BNTAC Implementation Committees and respective Terms of Reference (ToRs) across these groups to drive BNTAC’s current work priorities and projects; and developed a BNTAC Cultural Capability and Cultural Authority Framework.


Progress has also been made for the period toward building efforts and investment toward the preservation and advancement of historical and traditional lands, as well as cultural knowledge and practices and promoting Bigambul connection to country. BNTAC have now developed a Cultural Immersion Program for implementation, which will be a requirement for all government and industry employees to complete, prior to commencement of any major project work conducted on our lands.  We have also progressed with developing a united Plan for our nation; and development of a current Cultural Heritage Register, comprising records of physical locations and significant sacred and other important sites, song lines and stories within the Bigambul Nation.


A priority has also been progressing with development of a Cultural Heritage, Land and Environment Rehabilitation and Preservation Policy and Management Plan. This will be fundamental toward informing in-built provisions to ensure the preservation and rehabilitation of country, environment and culture as part of any major works undertaken on our lands. Further to this, a critical planned initiative that will continue to be a priority in 2019/2020, is the development of a comprehensive Caring for Country & Cultural Heritage Plan and Scorecard framework. The aim is to provide a comprehensive roadmap for cultural heritage and land and water preservation and rehabilitation. This will be a guiding framework for BNTAC’s own caring for country and cultural heritage work program; as well as informing standards and requirements of proponents working on our lands and waterways.


This will also connect to another planned project for 2019/2020 that BNTAC have been working toward, which pertains to the development of a 10year Economic Development and Prosperity Strategy for the Bigambul nation. The Strategy will actively support our target of leveraging commercial opportunities to build the economic strength of the Bigambul people, as well providing a community-led and locally collaborative road-map; to ensure a healthy; thriving; and sustainable Bigambul nation and community – now and into the future.


These activity measures necessarily cross-over into and also actively support our KRA pertaining to building the skills and capacity of Bigambul people through expanded training opportunities; with mapped economic development priorities and targets to necessarily encompass expanded training and skill development opportunities for Bigambul people. To these ends as well, during 2018/2019, BNTAC has continued ongoing discussions with proponents regarding local economic development and skill and training opportunities for Bigambul people; as well as developing our own revised Workforce Development Plan.  


Focused efforts have also been attributed to new program / project innovation and development, to support bolstering and maintenance of BNTAC capabilities, and aid us in moving toward self-sufficiency.  2018/2019 saw an expansion for BNTAC in terms of our existing proponent and funder relationships; and the projects that we have in place through these current formal arrangements.


Key proponents within our Determination Area and with which BNTAC have formal affiliation, include:

  • Shell Group QGC
  • ARTC Inland Rail
  • Origin Energy


QGC Shell have an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with BNTAC and through negotiated arrangements, also financially contributed during 2018/2019 to the Implementation Manager role position within the organisation – assisting to drive key reform and strengthening measures pertaining to corporate and operational functions. Furthermore, during 2018/2019, BNTAC received advice from QGC of our successful applications for the following upcoming projects:

  • The BNTAC 2019 Youth Summit that was held September 27 to October 1 in Goondiwindi
  • The BNTAC 3year Determination Celebration, to be held following the Youth Summit as a whole-of-community and family event
  • Part one of the Bigambul Language Preservation Project, which also represents an ongoing work program for BNTAC


Australian Rail Track Corporation – Inland Rail have a formal Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) in place with BNTAC. Through the CHMP in place, ARTC-Inland Rail currently have a workforce in our Determination Area comprising: one Senior Cultural Heritage Field Officer and two Cultural Heritage Field Officers. Funding was also committed to BNTAC toward development of the Bigambul Cultural Induction Program and purchase of Geo-spatial equipment; and ARTC-Inland Rail are also making a one-off financial contribution to the BNTAC 2019 Youth Summit.


Origin Energy is also a proponent operating in our Determination Area. At the End of September 2018, BNTAC was gifted a decommissioned  Camp by Origin. The gifted, 50man camp from Origin Energy was received and placed on the Millmerran property during 2018/2019. The Camp includes:

  • Industrial kitchen
  • Self-contained dongers / demountables
  • Dining / Mess hall
  • Equipment and furniture
  • Electric Boards
  • Outdoor Dining


It is noteworthy too that as part of current discussions and working arrangements with all proponents, there is an emphasis on identifying and cultivating increased training, graduate and employment opportunities. For instance, both ARTC-Inland Rail and QGC Shell presented on local work opportunities and training and employment pathways at the 2019 Youth Summit. 


Other successful applications / proposals for the 2018/2019 period also included BNTAC’s submission to the Commonwealth Government’s Indigenous Languages and Arts Program. BNTAC have now secured financial support to build on stage one of our Language Preservation program, to develop audio visual and written resources, complemented by local artists’ works, that can be disseminated broadly and used as key teaching and educational tools for current and future generations. This project is a major focus in 2019/2020.

These outcomes highlight the amount of work and efforts undertaken for 2018/2019; as well as the growth and expansion that has occurred to BNTAC’s current and forecast work program. This places BNTAC is a strong and capable position moving into the next 12month activity period.

ARTC signs statement of commitment with native title holders

By Announcements and Community News

Bigambul youth leaders Lilly Graham and Brenton Sefo-Wallace display the Statement

of Commitment following the signing in Goondiwindi yesterday


ARTC signs statement of commitment with native title holders

The Australian Rail Track Corporation has signed a Statement of Commitment with the Bigambul people of Southern Queensland. 

Initiated by the Bigambul people, the Statement of Commitment reflects the intent of both parties to work together to support the preservation of Bigambul cultural heritage on the Inland Rail alignment as the project progresses through their traditional lands. 

Bigambul Native Title Aboriginal Corporation spokesman Justin Saunders welcomed the signing of the Statement of Commitment. 

“This is about Traditional Owner economic empowerment and giving a voice to our young people so that they become part of the future solutions for the Bigambul nation,” Mr Saunders said.

“We are hoping to build on the existing strengths in our community and build our economic aspirations for the future.

“Our agreement with Inland Rail will help us to foster a greater connection to country for the Bigambul People. We are seeking to create a positive environment for our people through the preservation of our country and traditions while also embracing the future and what that may bring.”

ARTC Inland Rail director of engagement, environment and property Rebecca Pickering said the Statement of Commitment will support the social, economic and health aspirations of the Bigambul People. 

“We have consulted with the Bigambul People to identify ways they can capitalise on opportunities from Inland Rail to create social and economic change in their communities,” Ms Pickering said. 

“Primarily they are seeking to create pathways to support longer term opportunities for the Bigambul People,” she said.

“There is a shared excitement between ARTC and the Bigambul people that these opportunities can be created through targeted workforce and business development focussing on real job outcomes.

“The Statement of Commitment is a significant step as the Bigambul people are recognised Traditional Owners with a Native Title determination giving them established rights in law over their lands to enter an agreement on how we protect their heritage.” 

Ms Pickering said the two parties had also entered into a formal Cultural Heritage Management Plan under the Queensland Cultural Heritage Act, 2003

One of the first tangible outcomes from the Statement of Commitment is the Bigambul Youth Summit. 

“The summit addresses a number of issues important to culture and the social and economic aspirations of our young people as the emerging and future leaders of our nation,” Mr Saunders said.

“The contribution from ARTC allows us to take another step on building a future for our people on our traditional lands.” 

The summit involved Bigambul people between 18 and 30-years-old and is being held on Bigambul country at Goondiwindi this week.