Wickham Playgroup

Western Australia communities

Rio Tinto Iron Ore operates on Banjima, Muntulgura Guruma, Ngarluma, Nharnuwangga Wajarri and Ngarlawangga; Ngarlawangga, Nyiyaparli, Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura; Robe River Kuruma, Whadjuk (Noongar), Yindjibarndi and Yinhawangka. We acknowledge the Nations on whose traditional lands we live and work, and the unique connection Indigenous Australians have to water, land and country. We pay respect to Elders past and present.

By working together with our community partners, we strive to make a lasting positive impact with the people and communities where we operate and where our employees live and work.

Cultural heritage in the Pilbara

Our Pilbara iron ore operations are on or near land that is significant to Indigenous groups, including Traditional Owners. We recognise the cultural, spiritual and physical connections that Traditional Owners have with the land, water, plants and animals across Western Australia.

We consider both tangible and intangible cultural values as part of cultural heritage management.

Our comprehensive cultural heritage management framework focuses on engagement with Traditional Owners through all phases of the mining life cycle – from exploration to operation and closure.

Co-managing Country

We are changing the way we work so we can better protect cultural heritage.

Co-design is now our preferred model for working with all Traditional Owners and community members.

In a co-designed model, we sit together with all partners to map out our journey together towards a shared outcome, providing better heritage and environmental outcomes, and better certainty for mine development.

All partners discuss and agree on protocols for joint decision making on environmental matters, mine planning and closure. And we work together to share and record Traditional knowledge, protect cultural and heritage values on partners' lands, and make joint decisions to manage the impact of our operations.

Western Range on Yinhawangka Country is the first mine we have co-designed. Together, we worked through various scenarios to design the mine footprint, and jointly developed the Social and Cultural Heritage Management Plan.

Cultural heritage partnerships

We are proud to partner with the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation and the University of Western Australia in ongoing investigations and management of rock art, including a major research program, Murujuga: Dynamics of the Dreaming, and in an annual field school on the Burrup Peninsula near Dampier. This gives students and Indigenous rangers an opportunity to work together in the identification, recording and management of the significant rock art in this area.

Building thriving communities

We’ve been privileged to be part of the Western Australian community for nearly 60 years. In that time, we’ve made a significant difference to the community through employment, education and training, and our partnerships with community organisations.

Our operations support communities in the regional towns of Tom Price, Dampier, Paraburdoo, Pannawonica, Karratha and Wickham. With almost one-third of our people living in Albany, Busselton, Perth, Geraldton, Broome and Derby, our fly-in fly-out workforce is crucial to supporting the vibrancy of regional Western Australia.

We are proud of our partnerships across the state, as we work together to create outcomes and opportunities for everyone. Whether you are a local supplier, a community member, a grassroots organisation or one of our government partners, our mission is to deliver positive long-lasting outcomes.

Western Australia - Building Thriving Communities
6.21 MB
A new Early Childhood Education Centre for Tom Price

Applying for Rio Tinto Community Giving

The Community Giving program invites local grass-roots organisations to apply for up to $5,000 to support Western Australian communities where we work and live, including those neighbouring our operations and regional FIFO communities.

Organisations are encouraged to apply for funding through our social investment program by filling out the form below and sending it to ciwa@riotinto.com.

  • Focus areas

    Thriving communities - Supporting healthy, resilient communities with high quality, inclusive local services and social infrastructure, promoting wellbeing for all.

    Environmental stewardship - Engaging our workforce in the protection of the environment. Protecting, restoring and promoting environmental conservation and stewardship.

    Creating opportunities - Supporting diverse and sustainable local economies. Quality education and training opportunities for children and young people to reach their potential.

    Walking together - Championing community-led initiatives to heal and resolve social issues. Supporting Aboriginal-led initiatives in line with self-determination.

    Caring for Country - Supporting healing and cultural knowledge sharing. Provide ongoing access to and care of Country. Partnering to support rehabilitation, land management and closure.

  • Eligibility

    Local community groups, charitable or not-for-profit organisations delivering initiatives in communities where Rio Tinto Iron Ore and Dampier Salt Limited operate and have an impact, including across the Pilbara region, Perth, Great Southern, Mid West, South West, Broome and Derby.

    We will support initiatives that provide benefit to communities where we live and work and are aligned with our focus areas. Application examples include but are not limited to;

    • Sporting associations to purchase equipment/uniforms for ongoing use by the clubs
    • Capacity building for associations to upskill umpires, coaches, etc
    • Community organisations to host events that promote community connection
    • Community organisations to improve or expand their resources to support program delivery
    • Awards evening focused on celebrating local ‘champions’
    • Costs towards an organisation hosting mental health workshops open to all community members
    • Costs towards an engagement program for youth to have improved opportunities during the school holidays
    • Materials to improve a community garden
    • Equipment to support the improved day-to-day running of community organisations such as technology/ furniture
    • Equipment to run projects on Country – i.e. laptops, satellite phone, shade structures
    • Resources such as books, craft, cooking equipment to support for organisations that run programs engaging children outside of school hours
    • Programs that support elderly and vulnerable community members
    • Costs towards training for not-for-profit organisations such as social media, financial, marketing, advertising.

For any further information, please email us at ciwa@riotinto.com.

Western Australia communities downloads

Tom Price & Paraburdoo PFAS Assessments - Frequently Asked Questions
1.02 MB
Western Australia Community Giving Guideline and Application Form
136 KB

Community agreements in the Pilbara

We were proud to be the first mining company in Australia to embrace native title to land and to form agreements with Traditional Owners. Today, agreements with Indigenous groups whose land we operate on, as well as others, are central to the way we work and an important way communities drive their development.

Our agreements set the framework for how we engage with communities and Traditional Owners, often going beyond legal requirements and forming part of a long-term relationship that can span decades.

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We know our operations can have far-reaching impacts on society.
  • Colours of our Country
  • Local voices
  • Employees in the community
  • Fly-In, Fly-Out employment
  • Indigenous Employment
  • Indigenous Scholarship & Cadetship Programs

Colours of our Country

The Pilbara has a rich history and a vibrant artistic heart. The land and its Traditional Owners hold generations of stories, ceremony, and culture.

Since 2006, the Colours of our Country exhibition has provided people in Perth with a small snapshot of these stories and customs – 1,500 kilometres away from the magnificent landscapes that influence so many of the works on show.

The Colours of our Country exhibition provides an outlet for cultural expression and the opportunity to reflect on the legacy of tens of thousands of years of history that has been brought to life by the artists.

Now in its 18th year, the exhibition has sold over 2,800 artworks, generating more than A$3 million for participating local artists, their art centres, and their communities.

Colours of our Country reaches a national and international audience with an online exhibition complementing the physical exhibition in Perth, Western Australia.

Dates for our 2024 exhibition will be posted soon.

Local voices

Our Local Voices community perceptions survey program is helping us better understand the needs and priorities of local communities so we can best contribute to more vibrant, thriving communities where we live or work in Western Australia. 

Confidential online surveys are conducted by an independent researcher and are now held bi-annually across the Pilbara and annually in communities where we provide FIFO employment opportunities, including the South West, Mid West, Great Southern and Broome. 

Feedback from communities is highly valued and helps to inform our decision making, planning and investing.  Since the inception of the program we’ve been using community feedback to: 
  • better understand our perceived impacts on the environment in the Pilbara
  • ensure our economic contributions enhance local and regional prosperity across WA
  • contribute to increasing our support for health, medical services and childcare programs in the Pilbara 
  • invest in targeted training, education and employment programs across WA 

For each Local Voices survey completed a donation is made to a local non-profit community group. Since the inception of the current survey series in late 2021, almost $50,000 has been donated to local community groups through the program. 

For more information, to view the results, register your community group or to sign up for surveys, visit the Local Voices website.

Employees in the Community

Our employees are passionate about giving back to their communities and we support that passion through programs that reward them for their volunteer time, matching employee fundraising and encouraging participation in community and fundraising activities.

Fly-In, Fly-Out Employment

Our fly in-fly out (FIFO) program continues to deliver significant economic benefits for regional towns in Western Australia through stable employment and more spending with local businesses.

We support a vibrant regional Western Australia not only through providing local jobs, but also through the enduring support we provide to local schools, local governments and community organisations.

This regional workforce makes up 32% of our total FIFO workforce, with employees commuting from the Kimberley, Gascoyne, Mid West, Goldfields, South West and Great Southern regions.


Indigenous Employment

We aim to prioritise Indigenous people and in particular, Traditional Owners, in recruitment or internal redeployment opportunities, and the number of Traditional Owners in our business continues to grow. We also focus on career paths, supporting tertiary students and developing opportunities for Indigenous businesses both at Rio Tinto and more broadly.

Indigenous Scholarship & Cadetship Programs

Our Indigenous scholarship program is part of a shared commitment with signatory Traditional Owner groups in the Pilbara to support Indigenous students who are studying at university in Australia. We prioritise students from Traditional Owner groups who are a member of the Regional Framework Deed. Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to progress to employment through our vacation and graduate programs.

Contact Western Australia Communities