You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.


The Traditional Owners of Greater Darwin were the first Indigenous people in Australia to call for a nationwide Treaty.

The Larrakia drew up a petition signed by more than 1000 people, some no more than thumb prints, and tried to present it to Princess Margaret during a royal visit to Darwin.

But police blocked the way, there was a scuffle and the petition was damaged.

The three metre-long document was taped together and posted to the soon-to-be-crowned Queen Elizabeth.

Larrakia Nation chief executive Michael Rotumah says: “Larrakia are proud that they led the way for a Treaty.”

The vibrant 800-member organisation represents the Larrakia people through eight recognised family groups: the Batcho family; Browne/Talbot family; Cubillo family; McLennan family; Raymond/Mills family; Roman family; Shepherd family and Fejo family.

Larrakia Nation was established in 1997 to be a united voice by representing Larrakia people in the preservation and protection of Larrakia language, law and culture, including making efforts to relieve the disadvantage, distress, dispossession, lack of educational opportunities, poverty and ill-health of the Larrakia community by pursuing all appropriate means for the social and economic development for the Larrakia community.

These days, Larrakia Nation offers a wide range of community services, including aged and disability care; home care; meals on wheels; social groups, care finder; tenancy support; and transport.

One program, Minbani Bebe Kinship Services, recognises that nine out of 10 children in care are Indigenous and strives to keep youngsters with their families.

Outreach services include day and night patrols; help for long-grassers; and the Palmerston Family Cultural Centre.

Another service, Return to Country, which has been running for more than 20 years, provides a one-stop shop for itinerants to get help to return to their home communities.

The hugely successful Larrakia rangers carry out commercial work, such as weed control; grounds maintenance; revegetation; crocodile monitoring; fish surveys; and biodiversity research.

Larrakia Nation has drawn up a strategic plan for 2023-28, which includes investigating economic opportunities, including joint ventures.

“We want to look at ways of making the Larrakia community economically stable for the next 20 or even 50 years,” Mr Rotumah says. “We want to be less reliant on government money.”

The four pillars of the strategic plan are to:

Protect Larrakia land and sea, including expanding the ranger program

Enhance Larrakia culture, including establishing a Larrakia School of Languages and Culture

Support Larrakia people and staff, including building a new headquarters, which would house a cultural centre

Build a sustainable future, including setting up an equity fund to support Larrakia businesses