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The story of the Groote Eylandt Aboriginal Trust

This story belongs to the Warnindilyakwa people, the beneficiaries of the Groote Eylandt Aboriginal Trust, or GEAT.

It is a very important story, and it will help you understand:

WHY GEAT was created


HOW GEAT does it

Anindilyakwa version

English version


The history of GEAT

In 1969 the Church Missionary Society established the Groote Eylandt Aboriginal Trust. A formal Trust Deed was created to set out the fundamental rules of the Trust. These basic rules still apply today. The most important rule requires the Trustee to use money received by the Trust for charitable purposes.

From 1969 to 2012 GEAT followed and operated, with some small changes, under this Trust Deed.

In 2012 the Warnindilyakwa people asked the Northern Territory Attorney-General to make changes to the 1969 Trust Deed. The people wanted stricter rules to prevent losses. The Attorney-General appointed a Statutory Manager to oversee GEAT. The Statutory Manager held many community meetings with the people to work out the new rules. 

In 2015 the Attorney-General introduced the new rules for GEAT that were, “made by the people – for the people”.

Changes to the Trust Deed included:

  • A list of charitable categories where money can be spent.
  • A requirement to deposit a minimum of 50% of the net income of the Trust in the Preservation Fund (previously known as the Mothership Fund”) for the future after mining.

Changes to the Association included:

  • The people asked to have three independent members on the Management Committee, to make sure the rules would be followed, and the community members would be supported.
  • The people asked for each of the three main communities to have a voice on the Management Committee.

A new Management Committee started in 2015, replacing the Statutory Manager. The committee has been working well together and GEAT is now in a very good financial position.


The Trust has two key objectives: 

  1. Preserving 50% of the Trust’s annual income for future generations when mining ends.
  2. Allocating the remaining 50% of income to charitable grants that fall within one of the following charitable purposes:
  • Culture 
  • Education 
  • Food security
  • Health
  • Transport

Examples of charitable expenses that GEAT can support:

  • Costs to operate a renal service
  • Costs to provide students with meals at school 
  • Costs to run a community bus and ferry service
  • Costs to facilitate a youth mentoring program
  • A vehicle that assists the running of a service or program

Types of expenses GEAT cannot support:

  • Vehicles or boats for individuals
  • Costs that are the responsibility of government
  • Repayment of loans or debts
  • Cash payments

It is important to note that any program or service that GEAT supports must be for the benefit of Warnindilyakwa people.

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