The struggle for Indigenous recognition was fought by Indigenous people of Cape York before the incorporation of Cape York Land Council. The Land Council’s inception didn’t take place because of government funding.
It was the very real struggle of the Wik people who made it possible. The families of Aurukun put their monies into establishing a body that would represent them in their fight to achieve outcomes.
Today, the Cape York Land Council is a powerful brand. It is a brand that reflects struggle, honour, pride, strength. All of this started at a time when our voices as individuals did not yield power. However, we united as the Honourable Minister Nigel Scullion described it at the Cape York Summit (September 2017) into ‘a most powerful, an irresistible voice’.
Over the past three decades, Cape York Land Council has honoured that vision and realised the dreams of our Elders with native title determinations over more than 50% of Cape York.
We are working with Cape York people to bring the remaining Aboriginal lands under Native Title Claim and ensure the realisation of the aspirations of native title through the Cape York United #1 Claim (CYU #1 Claim).
The Land Council will continue to provide a voice to those who have not had their native title rights determined and will continue to support those who have recognition of Aboriginal lands to build strong, grass roots ownership.
I believe that United Cape York Pama have the power to create change and build vibrant, strong, independent communities for future generations. Our brand attracts corporate and government interest. We must harness this together to achieve the dreams of today’s families for tomorrows children.
RICHIE AH MAT
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
He is the founder of Kalan Enterprises, an organisation based in Coen, Cape York delivering land management services, construction, cultural heritage and community development, enabling the creation of new employment and training opportunities for local indigenous people.
He is also the co-founder of Kalan Civil, a civil construction company that works within the Cape York region to maintain State Road networks, and participate in new road construction. This indigenous enterprise has supported specialised upskilling of local Indigenous heavy machinery operators and supported further works for local Indigenous contractors within Cape York.
Dion was a key Indigenous negotiator for better Indigenous outcomes as part of the $500 million Cape York Region Package (CYRP). Through direct lobbying this resulted in an increase to Indigenous procurement from 1.5% up to 20%.
This CYRP negotiation and indigenous engagement process was also successful in engaging more than 311 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and providing more than 140,000 hours of Indigenous training and employment.
As a result of these KRAs, a First Nations-owned and majority Indigenous employed company Bama Services achieved TMR prequalification and was awarded the 10 Mile Creek (1.6km) and South of Duck Holes Creek (4.1km) PDR sealing projects in 2018. Bama Services is the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander local business to achieve prequalification and be awarded a contract in Cape York.
Dion is also heavily involved in native title and land rights where his ancestral connections to central Cape York region lies. He was a lead voice in the Kaantju Traditional Owner Negotiating Committee that resulted in more than 2000 square kilometres of land being granted Native Title for the Southern Kaantju people and Uuthaalnganu people.
He also co-designed joint management (CYPAL) terms for management of the KULLA McIlwraith & Oyala Thumotang National Parks – an area of more than 6500 square kilometres of land which is jointly managed by the Southern Kaantju, Ayapathu, Lama Lama, Umpila and Wik people and Queensland Parks.
Dion credits his grandfather; the late Thomas Creek, with giving him the knowledge, strength, and determination to continue to advocate for his people. Thomas Creek lodged one of the first land claims (Birthday Mt) in QLD under the Aboriginal Land Act 1992. Dion continued his grandfather’s legacy to ensure the realisation of the recent recognition of native title rights for the Southern Kaantju people as part of the Cape York United #1 Claim.