The Tjiwarl people are the native title holders of land used by BHP’s Nickel West business in the Goldfields region of Western Australia.
On 1 November 2018, BHP Nickel West signed a Comprehensive Agreement with Tjiwarl Aboriginal Corporation to provide native title compensation, financial and other support to assist the Tjiwarl people to deliver their community plans in areas such as health, education, training, employment and contracting.
The agreement also supports the ongoing development and operation of Nickel West, including a framework to work together on cultural heritage management and the protection of areas of special significance.
Brett Lewis, Tjiwarl Aboriginal Corporation director and Tjiwarl native title holder, described it as “a landmark agreement” and “a milestone for Tjiwarl”.
“It means a lot for our up-and-coming generations and will provide for our future,” he said. “It gives Tjiwarl a seat at the table. It means the respect of our fathers and mothers who didn’t have a say and will now get a say in their country.”
BHP Nickel West President Eddy Haegel said the agreement demonstrated a joint commitment to a long-term mutually beneficial partnership.
“This landmark agreement for the region has been built on trust, transparency and strong leadership from both parties,” he said. “It reflects BHP’s commitment to making positive economic and social contributions in our communities, including employment and engagement of Tjiwarl people across our diverse operations in Western Australia.”
In May 2019, the first five graduates from the Nickel West Tjiwarl Work Readiness Program in Kalgoorlie were awarded their certificates and started work on country at BHP’s northern operations in the Goldfields.
Wilamena Baaman, one of the graduates and a Tjiwarl director, said it was inspiring for their community. "We are the first lot to do the course and now our people will work on country. We are proud to be a part of what BHP is doing on our country. We are proud of ourselves – we've made a pathway for our families and communities. Proud to see our family out there working."
Eddy Haegel said: "This is a really important outcome from our landmark agreement with the Tjiwarl people last year. There has been a huge amount of emotional engagement from the entire Nickel West workforce on this agreement and by the Tjiwarl people. This is where we bring together our vision of working together."
BHP Nickel West now has 15 members of the Tjiwarl employed at its operations.