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First Law Protocol 

Our case is the first time the Land Court’s recommendations on mining approvals have to be in line with the Qld Human Rights Act. First Nations people are experiencing the impacts of climate on their culture and Country.

So it was really important for us to make sure the Court and the President saw first-hand the physical and immediate cultural impacts of climate change felt by First Nations communities.

We initially proposed a First Law protocol that Murrawah (YV First Nations co-director) drafted alongside EDO with contributions from some of the top First Nations legal minds in the country.


The First Law protocol is a blueprint embedding First Nations cultural rights principles in any legal proceedings. Please get in touch if you are able to use the protocol or have ideas and reflections to develop the protocol further. And feel free to share the protocol with your networks. 

While Waratah Coal blocked the First Law protocol being adopted in full in our hearing, we did win our application for on-Country evidence to occur.

President Kingham published her reasons in Waratah Coal Pty Ltd v Youth Verdict Ltd & Ors (No 5) [2022] QLC 4 with reliance on the 'self-determination' element of First Nations cultural rights. Her words were: "written evidence from First Nations witnesses is a poor substitute for oral evidence given on country and in the company of those with cultural authority".

Witnesses giving their evidence on their own Country was a legal first in the Land Court and a huge step towards making the objection process more accessible for First Nations people.

Read the full proposed First Law Protocol below. 

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