The Central Northern Territory community of Minyerri has declared itself a “No Go Zone” to fracking after protesting at being left out of the NT Government’s fracking protection areas.
A community-led survey revealed that 99 percent of Minyerri residents said they do not want fracking on their land.
Written and conducted by Minyerri locals, the survey also showed 93 percent of residents wanted a Territory-wide ban on fracking.
The NT Government recently released its proposal for reserve blocks (“No Go Zones”) for fracking, however, Minyerri and most Alawa country was left off the list the government would prioritise.
These “No Go Zones” were allocated to protect towns, residential areas and areas of high tourism, ecological and cultural value.
Minyerri met none of these requirements, according to the NT Government, and is now open to the fracking industry.
“Aboriginal communities have been fighting the threat of fracking for many years now,” said Vanessa Farrelly, an Arrernte woman and Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network NT Community organiser.
“Minyerri community has been really disappointed [with the NT Government].”
Ms Farelly said Alawa country is a hotspot for fracking as it lies in the Beetaloo Basin, an area targeted by many companies for its rich supply of gas.
“The NT Government did zero consultation with Aboriginal communities before they did this report,” Ms Farelly said.
The Minyerri protest saw 100 community members led by Minyerri school children march and place their anti-fracking placard into the ground to show the NT Government and gas companies that their country wasn’t open for fracking.
“We got to stop this fracking, because we got people working on pastoral leases, people working on bush medicine,” said Naomi Wilfred, an Alawa woman and Minyerri resident.
“People are interested in buying our bush medicine because it heals them. If fracking goes ahead, how are we going to heal people and ourselves?”
Minyerri residents have recently launched their own cultural enterprise to sell Gulbarn, a traditional Alawa bush medicine, as soaps and herbal teas. Ms Farelly said it’s a type of medicine that grows all around the top end of central Northern Territory.
“It has healing properties … Alawa people have been harvesting it. They’ve been selling their Gulbarn tea and they’ve actually sold out on their website … even shipping internationally.”
There are fears within the community that fracking could poison the Gulbarn and harm economic opportunities existing in Minyerri.
“It’s Aboriginal people that have that knowledge and should be benefitting from it,” Ms Farrelly said.
Ms Farelly said Minyerri’s Alawa people will not wait on a government that has forgotten them.
“Minyerri has taken its future into their own hands, declaring themselves a ‘No Go Zone’ to fracking by conducting a community-led survey,” Ms Farrelly said.
“Remote communities are sick of governments sitting up in Darwin and making decisions that impact Aboriginal communities, without any consultation.”
By Hannah Cross