Yirrkala Indigenous Community

Yirrkala is Yolŋu community located in the East Arnhem region. Yirrkala and surrounding homelands have undergone many years of change resulting from bauxite mining which began in the 1950s. The town of Nhulunbuy (Gove) was built to provide infrastructure to the mine workers which is a fifteen minute drive from Yirrkala.

Yirrkala
Yirrkala

Yirrkala

Many senior people from the Yirrkala community have expressed both passion for strengthening education pathways in Yirrkala

Pathway Mapping

This project responds to community interests in ensuring that more Yolngu community members hold senior roles at workplaces within the community.

About Yirrakala

Yirrkala and surrounding homelands have undergone many years of change resulting from bauxite mining which began in the 1950s. The town of Nhulunbuy (Gove) was built to provide infrastructure to the mine workers which is a fifteen minute drive from Yirrkala. A bark petition was sent from the Yirrkala Elders to the Federal Government to protest against the mining taking place and a large section of land being sold to the mining company under a 99 year lease but it failed and the mining continues today. The Yirrkala bark petitions of 1963 are significant early steps in the path that led to the statutory acknowledgement of Aboriginal land rights by the Commonwealth in 1976 and the overturning of the doctrine of terra nullius in the High Court’s Mabo decision of 1992. The mine is now being demobilised and this has created uncertainty about the town of Nhulunbuy and the impact on the Yirrkala Community.

A history of strength

Yirrkala has a strong history of advocacy (particularly for land rights and bilingual education), and is famous for its music and art. Locally run businesses and organisations, such as Lirrwi Tourism, the Mulka Project, and Laynhapuy Homelands, have strong business models with training and employment opportunities for community members. The Yambirrpa School Council is active, and the two schools in Yirrkala (Yirrkala Community School and the Homelands School) have a strong focus on providing a bilingual education, and many of the senior staff (both Yolngu and Balanda) have worked in the school for many years.

Community backed education

Many senior people from the Yirrkala community have expressed both passion for strengthening education pathways in Yirrkala, access to appropriate support along education pathways, as well as maintaining and strengthening key features of the local education system, such as the bilingual program, homelands schooling, secondary education and options for youth that don't want to continue to Year 12 at school. Concerns about the lack of Yolngu people in senior job roles in the community have also been expressed. 

Many community leaders have stated that they want to change this; they want young people following structured and purposeful education pathways to attain these positions in the future. Many community leaders talk about their vision for the future whereby young people are the doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, policemen/women and teachers working in the community. The issues summarised here indicate that there is a need for, and interest in, strengthening education pathways (both HE and VET) in Yirrkala.

30 January 2017

Whole of Community Engagement Initiative

Whole of Community Engagement Initiative

The Whole of Community Engagement (WCE) initiative has been operating through the Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Leadership at Charles Darwin University for the past two and half years.

23 January 2017

Evaluating WCE

We have been working hard with our partners and stakeholders to get feedback and to document and share our key findings and achievements.

Charles Darwin UniversityAustralian Centre for Indigenous Knowledges & EducationBatchelor InstituteNAILSMANTG

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