Land agreement paves way for SKA telescope project

Joint media release with WA Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Jobs, Trade and Science, Roger Cook MLA.

The Albanese and McGowan Governments have reached agreement with Native Title Holders in Western Australia that will allow the construction of a Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope on the lands of the Wajarri Yamaji.

The Government, CSIRO and the Wajarri Yamaji community have worked closely together to put in place an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) that will enable the historic international radio telescope to be built on Wajarri Yamaji land.

The ILUA will provide the Wajarri Yamaji with sustainable and intergenerational benefits in areas such as enterprise and training, education and culture.

Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic said the Government was proud to be partnering with the Wajarri Yamaji community to protect Wajarri Yamaji cultural heritage and ensure they share in the many benefits the SKA project will bring to their region.

“No one can deny the importance and value of working together to uphold and protect the heritage of the Wajarri Yamaji land,” Minister Husic said.

“For tens of thousands of years the Wajarri Yamaji have nurtured and continue to nurture this land.

“They are the first astronomers on that country with a rich cultural heritage that is connected to their observation of the stars.”

As part of the ILUA, the Wajarri Yamaji have renamed the Murchison Radio-Astronomy Observatory which will house the SKA telescope. The Wajarri ran a competition within their community and chose the name Inyarrimanha Ilgari Bundara meaning Sharing the Sky and Stars.

Minister Husic said: “It’s inspiring that we can bring together First Nations knowledge with this landmark international astronomy project.

“We have worked closely to reach an agreement which will enable the respectful construction of a SKA telescope on Wajarri Yamaji land. This agreement will see benefits flow on to communities and support scientific endeavour for generations to come.

“Together we have fostered relationships and cultural sharing which will endure as SKA is constructed, over its 50 years of operation, and long into the future.”

Western Australia’s Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Jobs, Trade and Science, Roger Cook, said the agreement with the Wajarri Yamaji was an important milestone in the construction of the SKA telescope.

“The SKA will be the world’s largest and most capable radio telescope. It will expand our understanding of the universe and drive technological developments across the globe,” Minister Cook said.

“The WA Government will continue to work collaboratively with the Australian Government, CSIRO and the Wajarri Yamaji community to ensure the benefits of this landmark project are delivered at home and abroad.”

The Australian Government has been proactive in working with Wajarri people to protect Wajarri heritage for the project.

Extensive heritage surveys, covering around 400km of ground, have been undertaken over the past 4 years, where Wajarri people have provided information that is being used to ensure Wajarri heritage is protected.