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Rio Tinto's $9.5m investment to preserve Yinhawangka culture

David Prestipino -

The Yinhawangka Aboriginal Corporation and Rio Tinto have co-designed a program to protect and preserve Yinhawangka culture and support a strong, healthy and connected Yinhawangka People.

The new 'Living Cultures Program' will deliver projects that record, preserve and transfer cultural knowledge, including language, living history and heritage, women's business, arts and culture, songlines and traditional stories.

The partnership also aims to increase local economic development opportunities, improve social and emotional wellbeing for community, enhance cultural land management by Yinhawangka and develop and deliver cultural awareness training.

The programs will provide several opportunities for the Yinhawangka People to develop new skills and provide employment opportunities, with Rio Tinto investing $9.5m over six years to deliver the initiatives.

YAC chair Lorraine Injie acknowledged the hard work and dedication of the Yinhawangka people and Rio Tinto in bringing the Living Cultures Project to life.

"The preservation, maintenance and protection of our lived history, cultural knowledge of Country and providing programs and activities will support and assist us towards a better future," she said.

"This project brings an opportunity for changing the way in which Aboriginal programs are conceptualised, planned, and implemented.

"The Living Cultures project aims to take back Yinhawangka people's control of our knowledge and travel further on our journey as Traditional Owners of our land, and in improving social and economic outcomes for our people."

Ms Injie said she looked forward to strengthening the close working relationship between YAC and Rio.

"I am very grateful to them for sharing our vision for a better future for our children and the preservation of Yinhawangka people's history and culture, where our story and songs, carried down by our old people throughout time, are remembered and revered," she said.

Rio Tinto health, safety, environment and communities vice president Cecile Thaxter said the program was dedicated to preserving and enhancing the culture, people, and Country of the Yinhawangka People through programs that promote positive, intergenerational outcomes.

"We are in a world where ancient and precious cultural heritage is at risk of being lost forever but, through this program, we have a unique opportunity to work together to protect and preserve the Yinhawangka People's culture," she said.

YAC and Rio Tinto also co-designed the Western Range mining project, Rio's first co-designed mine, and jointly developed a social and cultural heritage management plan, which outlines protocols for joint decision making on environmental matters, mine planning and closure.

That initiative also outlines support for the Yinhawangka Ranger program, as well as other avenues to increase participation in "on-Country" environmental and other cultural heritage management activities.

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