Rio Tinto and UWA Research MOU

The Rio Tinto Chair of Rock Art Studies is funded by RioTinto’s Conservation Agreement with the Commonwealth to research the values of the Dampier Archipelago (Murujuga) National Heritage Listed Place. In 2019, this was renewed by a Memorandum of Understanding between UWA and RioTinto. Following on from the successful completion of the Murujuga: Dynamics Linkage project, this five-year funding arrangement between Rio Tinto and The University of Western Australia signals a new era of Western Australian rock art research.

Chris Salisbury (Rio Tinto chief executive Iron Ore), Dawn Freshwater (UWA VC) Jo McDonald (Director CRAR+M), Stephen (Minister for Environment), Peter Jeffries (MAC CEO) at the MOU signing ceremony


This new funding will support CRAR+M’s research, education and training for undergraduate and postrgaduate students in Pilbara Indigenous communities and with Indigenous ranger groups, as well as with other organisations who manage the State’s rock art estate. It will also help the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation and the State and Federal Governments in their quest to gain World Heritage Listing of the Dampier Archipelago, known as Murujuga.

The five-year (2019–2024) Rio Tinto-UWA agreement will deliver:

  • Resourcing for research, teaching and technical staff appointments.

  • New knowledge about key research areas.

  • Better understanding of the relative significance of individual rock art sites and regions in the Pilbara.

  • Sharing of research databases with Indigenous partners.

  • Outreach activities to disseminate significant research to the public.


Professor Jo McDonald, Rio Tinto Chair of Rock Art Studies and Director of the Centre for Rock Art Research and Management at UWA, said the new agreement demonstrated the commitment of Rio Tinto and the agreement partners to protect and preserve WA’s rock art.

Elizabeth Bradshaw (CRARM Advisory Board Chair) and Ken Mulvaney (Rio Tinto research collaborator)


“This funding agreement will allow us to expand our knowledge about rock art but more importantly it will ensure ongoing collaboration with host Aboriginal communities too,” Professor McDonald said.

“As well as building on the important work we have done in the National Heritage-listed Dampier Archipelago, we will be developing rock art programs with four more Aboriginal communities in the Pilbara,” Professor McDonald said. “This will not only add to our knowledge base about WA’s rock art collection, but it will ensure that we are all better equipped to preserve and manage one of the State’s unique assets.”

MLSU Ranger Sarah and CRAR+M HDR Candidate Emma Beckett

Mailing Address:

Centre for Rock Art, Research + Management,

School of Social Sciences,

M257, 32 Stirling Highway, Perth WA 6009

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