107. The Third Makarrata Way

In this podcast series, Rev. Dr. Djiniyini Gondarra OAM and Richard Trudgen discuss the third Makarrata mediation process. This is a legal mediation process carried out when a treaty has been broken between two corporate clan groups. It is a process for dispute resolution around economic issues of trade, land or shared assets, rather than smaller family disputes.

This third Makarrata process is carried out according to Maḏayin rom, the original Yolngu law, that unfortunately is still seen by mainstream Australians (Balanda) as just a spear fight or ceremony. Richard and Djiniyini alleviate this confusion by discussing the Makarrata process as a series of podcasts. In the first Makarrata way, they explain this is a mediation process ending in a reconciliation ceremony after a murder or serious incident has occurred. In the second Makarrata way they talk about resolving disputes and finding reconciliation after someone has stolen something such as an object, equipment, an asset, or even a person.

In the third Makarrata way, they look at the process in which one clan invites another clan to sit down with them and work out a broken agreement between them, in a diplomatic way. This is carried out inside the Yolngu chamber of law, with witnesses and protection by guards, or the djuŋgaya, Yolŋu police. Therefore it is a safe space, controlled by the Mägaya rom, the way of big peace. The two clans may reach a consensus by agreeing to return to a strong relationship with each other as it was in the past. The offending group might not have known about a treaty agreement that was made generations ago. The conversation process will come to a climax when somebody admits that they have been misusing or abusing shared assets (such as a canoe), and the previous treaty or a new agreement is arranged – respected and upheld by the law.

Click here for the transcript.

Note: Due to lack of resources and time, the complete Yolngu Matha (ym) translation of this series has not been finalised. This translation is done at our own time and cost. Because of the important nature of this subject we will update this as soon as possible.


There are 4 Stories in this podcast. Please see time stamps below –

  • Story No. 1 Diplomatic meetings                                  00:00
  • Story No. 2 Diplomatic process                                     09:48
  • Story No. 3 Economic assets                                          19:02
  • Story No. 4 Assets and usage between clans           32:34