The land on which the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) and telescope equipment are situated is part of the ancestral lands of the Australian Aboriginal people.
The Australian SKA Office acknowledges the Wajarri Yamatji as the traditional custodians of the MRO site. The Office also gratefully acknowledges the important role the Wajarri Yamatji community played in enabling Australia to secure the rights to co-host the SKA.
Wajarri and CSIRO representatives stand beneath an ASKAP antenna.
Wajarri dancers perform at the ASKAP naming ceremony
When creating the MRO, many partners came together to develop an Indigenous Land Use Agreement to permit the current set of activities at the Observatory. The Australian Government, the Western Australia Government, the Western Australian State Minister for Lands, CSIRO and the Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation are partners in the existing Indigenous Land Use Agreement.
The MRO ILUA allows certain radio astronomy equipment, including the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder and the Murchison Widefield Array, to be constructed and operated on the MRO. In exchange the Wajarri Yamatji people receive a mixture of monetary and non-monetary benefits aimed at providing long term economic benefit.
Robin Boddington (L) and Godfrey Simpson (R) deliver a welcoming address at the ASKAP naming ceremony.
Wajarri representative listens to addresses at the ASKAP naming ceremony.
Throughout the construction and operation of existing radio telescopes at the MRO, and the campaign to secure hosting rights of the SKA telescope, the Wajarri Yamatji community has provided significant support. Engagement with aspects of the Wajarri culture has been crucial to communicating that Australia’s core site is both highly technically suitable, and a positive neighbour in the region. The Wajarri community has supported the SKA project through many activities. These include the highly successful Shared Sky & Ilgaririji – Things Belonging To The Sky international art exhibitions, and the attendance of Wajarri representatives at International SKA Forums, The Wajarri community have also provided assistance in creating communications materials such as Welcome to Country, a short documentary about the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory from a Wajarri perspective.