The foundation comes after the Federal Government announced it will establish new legislation designed to avoid incidents like the 2020 destruction of a sacred rock shelter at Juukan Gorge in Western Australia last week.
The agreement between Rio Tinto and the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) Aboriginal Corporation reflects the desire of the Traditional Owners to create a foundation that supports the cultural, social, educational and economic aspirations of the group.
It will be lead and controlled by Traditional Owners and enable the delivery of broader benefits through commercial partnership opportunities.
“We fell far short of our values as a company and breached the trust placed in us by the PKKP people by allowing the destruction of the Juukan Gorge rock shelters,” Rio Tinto chief executive Jakob Stausholm said.
“As we work hard to rebuild our relationship, I would like to thank the PKKP people, their elders, and the corporation for their guidance and leadership in forming this important agreement.”
The agreement forms part of Rio Tinto’s commitment to remedying and rebuilding its relationship with the PKKP people.
In addition to supporting the creation of the Juukan Gorge Legacy Foundation, remedy discussions have centred on agreeing a new approach to co-management of country as well as the ongoing rehabilitation of the rock shelters and their surrounds at Juukan Gorge.
Under the agreement, Rio Tinto will provide financial support to the foundation to progress major cultural and social projects, including a new keeping place for storage of important cultural materials.
The Federal Government last week announced it will accept seven of the eight recommendations from the parliamentary inquiry conducted in 2021.
It will legislate new cultural heritage protections, review the native title act, and establish a fund to support prescribed bodies under the native title act.