Yirrkala Community Update April 2016
Rich cultural metaphors guiding the WCE activities in Yirrkala
The WCE team is working closely with two schools in Yirrkala, the Yirrkala School and the Yirrkala Homelands School. As part of this work CDU has entered into a service agreement with the Yambirrpa Schools Council that governs both schools. The aim of the partnership is to work towards improving pathways towards higher education. The metaphors outlined below are critical in guiding and shaping this collaborative relationship.
Garma metaphor - working together respectfully
This bark painting by Yalmay Yunupingu (under the guidance of Dr Yunupingu in 1969) represents the Garma metaphor which is based on many levels of meaning like a network that extends in all directions. It symbolises the kinship relationships that we refer to as ‘Gurruṯu’. This is a Yirritja painting and it belongs to the Gumatj clan representing fire, land,sea and Yolŋu. Where the freshwater meets the sea water, they meet in the middle forming brackish water called ‘Galimiṉḏirrk’. It represents Yolŋu and ŋapaki (non Yolŋu) reconciling and finding a real balance that respects Yolŋu domain –‘ bala ga lili’ (give and take) in reciprocity.
The Garma metaphor symbolises how the WCE and Yirrkala community are working together and sharing ideas for the benefit of the community and its expectations around education – we build respect and understanding and seek a balance together. This sharing and understanding is fundamental to the CDU and Yambirrpa Schools Council Service Agreement and shapes the process of respectfully working together.
This is just like the brackish waters created by the salt and fresh waters coming together to create a new way forward based on a both-ways approach that is a stronger model that always respects and acknowledges the cultural foundations and context of the Yirrkala community and their appreciation of Western knowledges.
WCE would like to thank Yalmay Yunupingu for giving us permission to reproduce and use the bark painting image she created.
Yamirrpa metaphor - achieving outcomes together
(A snapshot from the video - Our Vision: Yirrkala, 2004)
According to Dr Marika the Yambirrpa (fish trap) is a metaphor for giving, sharing, and building strong relationships in the community and school. The fish trap is secure and sound so no fish can escape, like keeping the kids in the school together. The rocks can be seen as the foundation and the elders sitting there who hold that place together and look after the education interests of the school. This helps the school council and the teachers maintain and deliver strong Yolŋu and Ŋapaki (non-Yolŋu) education. We want our children to think cognitively and be prepared for the challenges they have to face in the future, to make pathways under the guidance of those elders. (Marika, 2008 )
Yambirrpa represents a philosophy and process that we can follow to achieve both Yirrkala Community and WCE outcomes. This way we can build sustainable foundations that are in line with the community’s education priorities. The building of the Yambirrpa and the teamwork involved ensures that students, teachers, CDU, Batchelor Institute, the Department of Education and the community are building strong foundations together towards a sustainable learning ground that intertwines Yolŋu and Ŋapaki knowledges. Yambirrpa represents a place that is safe and nurturing with boundaries for students to learn and grow their intellectual knowledge in a two-way learning environment.We work together towards achieving outcomes related to the activities in the Yambirrpa Service Agreement. In collaboration, the Yambirrpa Schools Council and the WCE provide opportunities for young people to feel confident to achieve their ambitions and dreams to meet the challenges and succeed in their journey towards higher education.
NAILSMA work on Yirrkala
NAILSMA is working closely with Yirralka Rangers and the two schools in Yirrkala (Yirrkala CEC and Yirrkala Homelands School) to trial the delivery of the Certificate III in Indigenous Land Management (ILM). This certificate is nationally accredited but is not currently offered in the NT, and it provides an important opportunity to recognise and value Indigenous cultural and ecological knowledge that is relevant for ranger activities on country. NAILSMA is working closely with senior community members develop culturally appropriate and locally meaningful models for unit delivery and assessment. To date, three training workshops have been held, and two more are scheduled for 2016. Click here to read more about the latest training workshop held in Darwin with participants from Yirrkala, Maningrida and the Tennant Creek region.