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Northern Territory Priority Communities

Northern Territory

The community is situated on the banks of the Angurugu River half way down the western coast of Groote Eylandt which is approximately 650km east of Darwin. Population estimates range from 778 to 1,377 people.


The Local Government Advisory Board for Angurugu has recently been ratified after a 12 month delay. When I met informally with the Board on my 17 September 2009 visit to the community, members shared feelings of disenfranchisement with recent changes in the community. Despite a long standing and positive working relationship with the Shire, members commented on the lack of information they received and the lack of input they now have into local government decisions affecting the community.

Policing was a key issue raised, with response times and a lack of community engagement and policing visibility a concern. Police services for the island are provided from the mining town of Alyangula approximately 15 km away along a sealed road. The community have asked for regular patrolling in Angurugu including a permanent presence.

Educational outcomes in the community are poor. School enrolment and attendance is unacceptably low and is impacted by bullying and teasing. The school is currently placing an emphasis on positive school behaviours, with encouraging results.

There are limited recreational activities for young people, particularly at night. The community expressed concern that this contributes to the overall wellbeing of the community as young people and children roam the streets at all hours with little to do. Sports, including football and basketball, are a popular community activity. Participation levels are high and greater interest has been shown in healthy eating and improving physical fitness.

Women in the community have formed a group to become better informed on family issues such as child well being and they are hoping to form a women's council soon.


Key issues raised at Angurugu are being addressed through the Regional Partnership Agreement Stage 2 (the Agreement) between the Anindilyakwa Land Council, the Australian and Northern Territory Governments, the East Arnhem Shire Council and the Groote Eylandt Mining Company. The Agreement covers the geographic area known as the Anindilyakwa region; comprising Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island, and includes the communities of Angurugu, Umbakumba and Milyakburra.

An independent review of education services was completed as part of stage one of the Agreement. The review underscored the need to better support the educational aspirations of Anindilyakwa families, who will be the main focus in implementing the recommendations of the review. A Taskforce is being formed with the community to work on enhancing education and training outcomes in the region, from early childhood through primary and secondary school to tertiary, vocational and adult education.

The Agreement provides the framework for implementation of Remote Service Delivery in Angurugu and Umbakumba and there will be further discussions with the Anindilyakwa Land Council and the communities. Policing matters are also being addressed through the Agreement and individual community needs should be built into the Local Implementation Plan. The Local Implementation Planning process for Angurugu will need to be carefully balanced, to be consistent with the Agreement, but also reflective of specific community needs.

Northern Territory

Galiwin'ku is located on the southern end of Elcho Island in North East Arnhem Land and is one of the largest communities in the region with population estimates ranging from 1,574 to 2,158 people.


On my 18 September 2009 visit, I met with a range of community representatives and heard about a number of successful activities undertaken to increase school attendance
and learning outcomes.

At the time of the visit, the school was preparing an exhibition of 35 art works in Darwin. Eight students, rewarded for their attendance and participation, were invited to attend the opening of the exhibition. The opportunity not only exposes students to the art industry, but also increases their exposure to the business skills required to establish, promote and conduct an exhibition.

I met with Marthakal Homelands Resource Centre Incorporated, which is responsible for the economic and social development of over 20 homelands and 500 residents across North East Arnhem Land. Marthakal has initiated a business plan to become a self sustaining community within five years.

There has been positive progress with housing, with 90 new homes proposed for construction along with new a subdivision commencing in 2010. Areas of concern for the community include:

  • the standard and upkeep of roads throughout the region;
  • lack of youth activities and pre vocational training opportunities – the former police station is being re-established as a youth drop in centre in direct response
    to a recent suicide; and
  • there is no safe house within the community and local police believe that due to the rate of domestic incidents it warrants further consideration.


A Local Implementation Committee for planning and governance is currently being established with the first meeting proposed for November 2009.

Education and training pathways have been incorporated into the Local Implementation Planning process to ensure support for school attendance strategies is provided by local service providers and the broader community. My Office is working with both the Australian and Northern Territory Government departments responsible for education through the Northern Territory Board of Management to ensure that government efforts are aligned and provide coordinated services in communities such as Galiwin'ku.

Northern Territory

The community of Gapuwiyak is in north east Arnhem Land approximately 60km south of Elcho Island and 540km east of Darwin. Population estimates range from 885 to 1,208 people.


On my 18 September 2009 visit to the community, I met with the Mala Leaders Group and representatives from a range of local service providers, including the school; health clinic; police; and East Arnhem Shire Council, who highlighted the areas of key concern for Gapuwiyak.

Education and training is a major concern for Mala Leaders, who are struggling to address poor school attendance. Underutilised employment and pre-vocational training places mean that there is a persistent lack of suitably qualified trades people and other personnel within the community. Construction and completion of the Gapuwiyak Training Centre has been delayed by a lack of clarity about project scope and cost. There is now a concern that there are insufficient funds to deliver the project.

An overall lack of capacity, expertise, qualified personnel and equipment impedes the delivery of a range of projects on time and on budget. Despite these concerns, a range of community instigated development activities exist in Gapuwiyak including a Health, Beauty and Hygiene program, and parenting support programs run by the Women's Centre.

Other areas of key concern include the need for:

  • additional sport and recreation activities for young people;
  • improved roads;
  • dog control measures;
  • school attendance strategies; and
  • improved housing.


My Office has asked the Regional Operations Centre to coordinate efforts to address the uncertainty surrounding the construction of the Training Centre to ensure the project proceeds as a matter of priority. Education and training pathways including agreed strategies to improve school attendance should be built into the Local Implementation Planning process as a key priority.

Northern Territory

Gunbalanya is located in Arnhem Land approximately 330km east of Darwin. Population estimates range from 881 to 1,500 people.


As highlighted to me on my 15 September 2009 visit, the Gunbalanya community has a keen business enterprise. Through a recent agreement with Gunbalanya Meat Supply Pty Ltd, the Northern Land Council and the Indigenous Land Corporation, $3.1 million will be spent over 15 years to upgrade and manage the community-owned meatworks and floodplain grazing enterprises. The Gunbalanya pastoral and meatworks operations will provide job-ready training for local people and will initially employ 28 Indigenous people. The Indigenous Land Corporation will also fund governance training to support the enterprise.

While local community governance structures include the store committee and governing boards of the arts centre, the sports and social club, outstation resource centre and the school, broader leadership is a central issue for the community. Concerns relate to Shire governance and the leadership of community organisations and leadership within the community more generally.

Engagement and communication between the Shire and community was expressed as an area of concern. I was informed at the community meeting that this has led to some community confusion and a lack of clarity over the use of funding, awarding of contacts and local job opportunities.

Despite the use of creative strategies by the school, attendance levels remain low. To assist in raising school attendance, the Clontarf Foundation is establishing a football academy jointly at Gunbalanya and Jabiru.

Other issues for the community include:

  • a lack of rural transaction facilities such as internet access, motor vehicle registration, post office and local banking facilities;
  • sustainability of the child care centre, the youth and recreation centre and the swimming pool; and
  • lack of appropriate community cemetary and morgue facilities.


Acknowledging the Shire's significant role in community service delivery, the local Government Business Manager and Regional Operations Centre will work with Shire representatives to ensure the Shire is a key partner in the Local Implementation Planning process, including setting out their functions and responsibilities within the community.


Hermannsburg (Ntaria)
Northern Territory

Hermannsburg is located 130km west of Alice Springs. Population estimates range from 550 to 938 people. Established as a Lutheran mission in 1877, Hermannsburg was the initial point of contact between the western Aranda and European cultures. The mission land was handed over to traditional ownership in 1982.


Both an ongoing issue and an example of excellence in the community are education and the school. Recently named NT school of the year, the Ntaria School regularly achieves attendance rates in excess of 90 per cent. Whilst the school is part of the School Enrolment Attendance Measure, the rise in attendance is also attributed to a focus on getting secondary students to school, which encourages their younger peers.

The community is concentrating its efforts on creating an education and training continuum, starting from childcare, to school, trade training and adult learning. Three classrooms (Northern Territory Emergency Response funded) and classroom verandas (Building the Education Revolution funded) have recently been completed and new early learning classrooms are due for construction shortly.

A number of issues present a challenge to community efforts including: a lack of progress in securing a Trades Training Centre; uncertainty about the continuity of CDEP converted positions at the school; the inability to modify planned early learning classroom plans to allow for a future extension to co-locate the local créche; and lack of progress in advancing the development of adult learning facilities. With a high proportion of young people it is critical that governments and community progress education as a priority in the community.

Other issues for the community, highlighted by the Western Aranda Health Aboriginal Corporation include:

  • the need to upgrade the health clinic to better meet community requirements;
  • the lack of chronic disease workers and programs;
  • the lack of staff accommodation for additional health staff and local health workers;
  • the need to replace the current youth and recreation hall and provide further youth activities; and
  • overcrowding and need for more community housing.

Board members advised of confusion over the provision of community dialysis services that they understood were to be provided to allow patients to access treatment in the community. Board members had been talking about this for a long time and had yet to see any progress.


My Office has confirmed that the four job positions converted from CDEP will remain in place permanently. This has been communicated to the school.

My Office has also held meetings with the Australian and Northern Territory Government education departments, the Government Business Manager and Principal of the school to ensure government effort is aligned. I have approached the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations to determine whether a Trades Training Centre for the school can be progressed as a priority. The Northern Territory Board of Management has also agreed to address the issue of coordination of education services as a priority.

Meetings to progress the provision of community dialysis services with the Northern Territory and Australian Governments, Western Aranda Health Aboriginal Corporation and the Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjakt Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation have also been held through my Office.


Northern Territory

Lajamanu is located 550km south of west Katherine on the northern edge of the Tanami Desert in the traditional country of the Gurindji people. Population estimates for Lajamanu range from 669 to 1,162 people.


The community appears to have strong, functioning leadership. The Government Business Manager is working with the Indigenous Engagement Officer to establish a community leadership group to assist and improve engagement with governments and the local Shire. This work will formalise the strong community leadership already present and should assist in community consultations with the Shire.

The need for a new health clinic was identified as a central priority for the community. Katherine West Health Board manages the clinic and has applied for funding from the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing. The current clinic is run down and is not readily accessed by men as there is no separate entrance. A funding agreement for $2.6 million is currently being negotiated with the Katherine West Health Board to extend and upgrade the health clinic and construct staff housing at Lajamanu and Yarralin.

The original scoping study in 2008 suggested an investment of $8 million would be required and there is some concern that a more limited refurbishment will not meet longer term community needs. The Department of Health and Ageing is continuing to work with Katherine West Health Board on this matter.

A swimming pool has been a key priority for the community for some time and the Shire has secured funding to undertake a feasibility study for a pool.


My Office is holding discussions with the Department of Health and Ageing to resolve the budget for, and timing of, the health clinic refurbishment to ensure it meets the needs of the community and is progressing as a priority.

The Government Business Manager is now coordinating the efforts of the community and governments to identify funding sources for the pool, including working with the community to lodge a submission with the Aboriginals Benefit Account before the end of the year. My Office is supporting the efforts to source matching contributions from the Northern Territory Government, the Shire and mining royalties to support the application.

Northern Territory

Maningrida is located 352km east of Darwin on the Central Arnhem coast at the mouth of the Liverpool River. Population estimates range from 2,068 to 2,700 people.


Governance is both a strength and a concern in Maningrida. There appears to be strong, consistent leadership from traditional owners and the Bawaninga Aboriginal Corporation, Maningrida Progress Association and the Malabam Health Board. However, on my 15 September 2009 visit I was advised that leaders in the community are concerned about the lack of emerging young leaders within the community. Promisingly, Kingsley Murphy, a local Indigenous youth trainee at GREATS Youth Services, has been nominated for the Young Australian of the Year Northern Territory Division. Kingsley is considered to be a promising leader and role model to the children and young people of Maningrida.

Youth issues are a central concern for Maningrida, in particular the creation of education, training and employment pathways for young people. Funding of $1.05 million over three years has recently been approved for the GREATS Youth Services to operate as a youth hub in Maningrida. The service delivers early intervention and prevention strategies targeted at young people at risk of using illicit drugs, alcohol, petrol and other substances; suicide and intentional self-harm; and criminal activity. In addition the service has supported a number of local young people to complete Certificate IV studies in Youth Work who will be employed alongside a Youth Coordinator to expand youth activities, improve service delivery and encourage greater involvement throughout the community.

Dog control is problematic and both the numbers and management of the dogs create a safety concern for the community. The Shire has developed a dog control plan though there is limited financial capacity to fully implement the plan without additional government support, which is currently being sought. The community is also working to implement community regulations on the numbers of dogs per family and their management.

Other key issues highlighted during my visit include:

  • significant concerns about school attendance and the quality of schooling;
  • the need for a youth strategy;
  • the need for strategies to encourage sustainable employment;
  • the lack of timely communication from government agencies around the outcome of funding applications and reporting requirements; and
  • the need for enhanced government communication and inclusion of the Shire as a key service delivery agency.


Under the Remote Service Delivery partnership funding is available for community governance capacity building. While the issues highlighted during my visit can be addressed through the Local Implementation Planning process, the Regional Operations Centre and Government Business Managers will need to work directly with communities to ensure governance support and training is effectively delivered.


Northern Territory

Milingimbi is one of the Crocodile Islands located between the Blyth and the Glyde Rivers. It is approximately 500km east of Darwin and 250km west of Nhulunbuy. Population estimates for the homelands and Milingimbi community range between 800 and 1,500 people.


On my 18 September 2009 visit to the community, I learned of the enrolment and attendance strategies successfully used to increase and sustain attendance and participation in education and training. The community recently held a concert in the park to engage children and their families about the benefits of being engaged in school.

Local governance is complicated in Milingimbi, with over twenty one clan groups residing in the area. The governance issues at times impede effective engagement on local priorities. For example, due to a lack of agreement over a suitable site, a two year delay has been experienced in commencing construction of a new health centre for the community.

A 'self care' dialysis facility has recently been located in Milingimbi. The unit is administered by the local health clinic. Patients are trained in self care dialysis in Darwin prior to returning to Milingimbi. Assistance is provided where necessary by the health clinic. Prior to this unit being established, dialysis patients had to reside in Darwin to receive treatment.

Additional issues raised by the community include:

  • a lack of infrastructure such as aged care facilities, safe houses, women's and men's centres;
  • limited youth and recreation facilities and programs;
  • the prevalence of rubbish and waste on streets and properties; and
  • the poor condition of infrastructure throughout the community.


The Government Business Manager is working with the community to establish a leadership and governance system that will facilitate engagement on the Local Implementation Planning process.


Nguiu (Wurrumiyanga)
Northern Territory

Nguiu is located 80km north of Darwin on Bathurst Island in the Arafura Sea. The community has recently indicated a desire to return to the traditional name of the region 'Wurrumiyanga' as opposed to Nguiu which is considered to be a name adopted by the missionaries. Population estimates range from 1,265 to 1,582 people.


On 10 August 2009 I visited the community and met with the Government Business Manager, the local police, Centrelink, the store, the Chief Executive Officer of the Tiwi Islands Shire Council and several Traditional Owners.

The employment and workforce development component of the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program is exceeding targets with 26 community members employed and a further 17 people having completed work readiness training.

Territory Alliance has completed the demolition of 13 condemned houses and is laying foundations for new houses on those blocks. The floor slabs are being constructed off-island and are scheduled to be transported to the community in December 2009 to be fitted to the foundations. The focus is to complete as much of the in-ground works as possible before the onset of the wet season, enabling work to continue uninterrupted on the construction of walls and interior fit out.

The refurbishment program is underway and the first of the refurbished houses is due to be completed by the end of November 2009.

There have been recent changes to the Tiwi Islands Shire Council, including a new executive in 2009. A new Chief Executive Officer has also been appointed and it is anticipated that improved Shire Council accounting and reporting mechanisms will occur. The Northern Territory Department of Local Government and Housing has appointed an independent investigator in response to concerns about irregularities in financial management and local governance activities.

No local advisory boards exist in any of the Tiwi communities and local government consultations are held with community skin groups. Local boards need to be established as a priority to enable effective engagement between the shire and the community.

Education, training, numeracy and literacy are problematic throughout the community with low learning outcomes. The School Enrolment and Attendance Measure commenced a 12 month trial in December 2008. While the community feels that there were some problems with its implementation, including engagement with the community, enthusiasm remains about exploring measures to drive school attendance including the ability to issue 'on-the-spot' fines to parents of children who fail to attend school.Other areas of concern to the community include:

  • better coordination of prevocational training, employment services and CDEP to lift participation and opportunities for community members; and
  • alcohol, drugs and chronic disease.


The Government Business Manager and Regional Operations Centre are working with the Shire to improve the governance of the community skin groups to enable them to effectively perform the local advisory board function. This is the first step towards the establishment of formal local advisory boards. Education and training pathways are being built into the Local Implementation Planning process to assist in coordinating government efforts.

Northern Territory

Ngukurr is located 320km south east of Katherine on the Roper River which forms the southern boundary of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. Population estimates for Ngukurr vary between seasons and range from 1,055 to around 2,000 people.


On my 16 September 2009 visit to the community, I met with Yugul Mangi leaders and was presented with a copy of the Yugul Mangi Community Development Plan 2009-2014. Yugul Mangi encompasses the Aboriginal peoples belonging to the seven Indigenous language groups of the lower Roper River/Gulf of Carpentaria region of South East Arnhem Land.

The Plan, developed in consultation with all of the family groups in the area, describes the community's aspirations and identifies their immediate and future priorities. The priorities include:

  • working with governments and others to build capacity to grow and strengthen the community;
  • developing a solid economic-base for the community through the creation and support of profitable and sustainable business enterprises;
  • improving educational outcomes from early childhood through to adult-education programs;
  • expanding cultural, language, literacy and numeracy training and programs;
  • expanding and improving existing health services, patient support and transport;
  • addressing sub-standard housing and overcrowding;
  • addressing domestic violence and violence related issues; and
  • sealing roads, building a bridge and culverts across creeks throughout the region to improve access during the wet season.

The school is working with the community to improve attendance, with the introduction of pre-vocational training and work experience into the curriculum for older students, linked to employment in the region.

The relationship between the Shire Council and the community appeared positive, with the Shire engaging actively with community members. The Shire places a priority on employing and training local people.


In acknowledging current community efforts, my Office is monitoring how each of the nine priorities identified in the Community Development Plan can be incorporated into the Local Implementation Planning process.

Northern Territory

Numbulwar is located in East Arnhem Land in the Gulf of Carpentaria 570km south east of Darwin with population estimates ranging between 678 and 1,274 people.


During my 16 September 2009 visit to Numbulwar, the importance of high quality teachers with a good appreciation of working in an Indigenous culture, and higher educational standards became evident. There is a concern in the community that students leave school without obtaining 'job ready' skills which makes it hard for them to successfully transition into employment or participation. Adult education classes are keenly sought, but the lack of accommodation for trainers is an issue.

I was advised that youth boredom is a concern for the community, with young people wandering the community at all hours. Construction of a three-quarter sized basketball court is currently underway with Building the Education Revolution funding. My Office has been advised that additional funding will soon be sought to construct an all weather cover over an existing full-size basketball court, providing the community with a facility that would be accessible to the community year round.

The Commonwealth and Northern Territory Governments have established a successful supported playgroup in Numbulwar. However the playgroup is operating on the verandah of the preschool due to a current lack of facilities.

Additional issues within the community include:

  • the poor quality of roads and access in and around the community and the need for community transport;
  • the need for improved frequency of dental services;
  • location-based training within the community rather than students needing to travel into Katherine or Darwin;
  • the need to identify sustainable jobs;
  • persistent overcrowding and the poor quality of housing; and
  • general lack of community facilities such as a community hall; women's centre; men's place; arts centre; swimming pool, internet access and other recreational facilities.


I have supported the Government Business Manager to ensure that further attention is given to facilitating improved stakeholder collaboration to establish youth services. A youth strategy can also be built into the Local Implementation Planning process that is linked to local education and training strategies.


Northern Territory

The Umbakumba community is on the north east coast of Groote Eylandt, approximately 50km off the Arnhem Land coast in the Gulf of Carpentaria and about 700km from Darwin. It is one of three significant communities on the island. Population estimates for Umbakumba range from 350 to 528 people.


The quality of the road linking Umbakumba to Angurugu and Alyangula is an ongoing safety concern. The existing gravel road, with varying degrees of access during the wet season, limits the community's connection with the rest of the region, affecting employment opportunities, teacher access and medical aid in cases of an emergency.

There is frustration at the slow progress in housing construction, but the community, and the CDEP participants in particular, are looking forward to the associated training and job opportunities.

During my 17 September 2009 visit, policing was raised as a concern, with community members asking to see more engagement from the police and police staying overnight in the community. I was advised that new police accommodation has been provided to allow for overnight stays by police, however the community feel that the accommodation has not been fully utilised.

Umbakumba would also like to see teachers live in the community, instead of travelling daily from Alyangula. School attendance is a key issue for the community and it is considered that the permanent presence of a teacher would encourage attendance and a range of activities are underway to promote the school as a safe and friendly environment, including painting the school.

Sport is a central focus of the community, with a new football competition between Angurugu, Alyangula and Umbakumba recently established. The oval at Umbakumba requires significant upgrade and the Government Business Manager is working with the community to grass the oval and establish change room facilities and seating.


Umbakumba is part of the Groote Eylandt Regional Partnership Agreement described under my report on Angurugu. A joint project by the Anindilyakwa Land Council, the Australian Government and the Northern Territory Government to seal the road, under the Agreement, has recently been announced.

Increased police servicing is being addressed through the Regional Partnership Agreement. The Northern Territory Government has committed to provide for the deployment of police officers so as to significantly increase their presence in Umbakumba. This commitment extends to at least one programmed visit to Umbakumba per week and two unscheduled visits per week. Overnight visits to the community will occur on a needs basis and where operational circumstances allow. My Office will be working with the Government Business Manager to ensure that these commitments are understood at the community level.

Teacher accommodation is also being addressed as part of the Regional Partnership Agreement so teachers can live in the communities in which they work.


Northern Territory

Wadeye, also known as Port Keats, is located 270km south west of Darwin in the Daly River reserve at the mouth of the Fitzmaurice River. In 1934 a Catholic Mission was founded at Port Keats and for decades the Church acted as the main service provider in such areas as education and health. Population estimates for Wadeye range from 1,930 to 2,856 people.


On my 14 September 2009 visit, community members representing Thamarrurr Incorporated gave an informative presentation of key issues and a longer term vision for the region. Thamarrurr Incorporated focuses its efforts around social issues within the greater Wadeye region with priorities including youth, housing, education, health, governance and leadership – all key concerns for the region.

Youth issues are of critical concern for Wadeye and while there are both a Regional AFL Program and Youth, Sport and Recreational Programs, there are limited youth activities, particularly during the evenings. A large proportion of the young people in the community are not actively engaged and it is perceived that employment opportunities associated with the youth programs are currently underutilised. Effective youth engagement programs are considered to be of great importance to the community.

During my visit I was informed of the hurdles to improving school attendance and the creative solutions that were being applied such as employing attendance officers to work directly with the community. The school has committed staff, including an active school board and there is very little violence or bullying throughout the school. The school does however lack the capacity to accommodate high attendance rates which will need to be addressed as attendance rates improve.

The community also raised concerns with me about delays in establishing the Children's Services Centre and Safe House. This was originally announced in May 2007 however construction only commenced in September 2009. I examine issues of this type later in the report, but I am pleased to note that, after a protracted planning phase, construction is now on track for completion of the complex in March 2010.


My Office is working with the Government Business Manager and Regional Operations Centre to ensure that a youth strategy forms part of the Local Implementation Planning process with the community.


Northern Territory

Yirrkala is located on the north-eastern tip of Arnhem Land approximately 700km east of Darwin. The community has a strong artistic community that was established in 1975. Population estimates for Yirrkala range from 578 to 1,472 people.


On 9 August 2009 I visited the Yirrkala community and met a range of service providers and stakeholders. While attending the Garma Festival I also had the opportunity to meet with Yirrkala and Yolngu leaders from the Gove Peninsula.

The community, Chief Minister Paul Henderson and Minister Macklin recently launched Australia's first ever Indigenous Surf Life Saving Club, Walngawu Djakamirri at Shady Beach, which helps prevent water-related injuries and actively engages children in the community.

Enrolment and attendance in schooling and training are issues for the community. The Yirrkala School Community Board and the Yirrkala Senior Leaders are trialing a range of approaches including home visits to discuss attendance with parents.

Employment opportunities in the region are limited. As a consequence, there is a heightened need for pre-vocational training, employment opportunities and improved pathways for secondary students.

Additional issues requiring attention include:

  • consistently high demands on early childhood facilities;
  • improved Yolngu representation on Nhulunbuy based night patrol – including training and employment of Yolngu workers; and
  • leasing negotiations to enable housing improvements throughout Yirrkala need to be resolved.


My Office has commenced discussions with the Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, the Northern Territory Department of Education and Training, and the Regional Operations Centre about the development of education and learning pathways strategies that ensure government investment is coordinated and provides opportunities for young people. These strategies will be reflected in Local Implementation Plans.

Northern Territory

Yuendumu is located 290km north west of Alice Springs with population estimates ranging from 605 to 1195 people. It is one of the largest communities in Central Australia. Yuendumu Aboriginal Reserve was proclaimed in 1952 and this reserve became Aboriginal land following a declaration under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.


Yuendumu is a hub for the Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation (Mt Theo Program), an effective youth development program servicing Yuendumu, Nyirripi, Willowra and Lajamanu. Mt Theo works to develop strong young community leaders through activity-based programs and by preventing petrol sniffing and other substance misuse.

Known for its sporting talents, the community recently received $2 million from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs for an undercover basketball court and construction is almost complete.

The ungrassed community oval is dusty, hard and covered in small rocks, making it difficult to train, play and attract Central Australian Football League games. Yuendumu also hosts a number of regional football competitions and is keen to formalise a softball competition for women.

The childcare facility is fully utilised providing a program for around 50 children each day. It is also providing vocational training in early childhood for five women. However, concerns were raised during my visit on 23 October 2009 about the Shire auspice fee including both the quality and quantity of fee for service activity undertaken on behalf of the community.

School attendance is low in Yuendumu and is compounded by school yard bullying and teasing. Teacher quality, community leadership and creative attendance strategies will need to be explored.

Community governance is a concern in Yuendumu. From my observations, it will be difficult to complete Local Implementation Planning unless these matters are addressed.


The Alice Springs Regional Operations Centre is providing additional support to the Government Business Manager to help facilitate improved governance arrangements.

My Office has sought an explanation for the child care centre auspice fee from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. If existing funding cannot be maximised for the benefit of the community, the Government Business Manager will explore alternative auspice arrangements which do not see such a large percentage of funds diverted from service provision.

My Office is working closely with the Government Business Manager, Regional Operations Centre, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and the Shire to secure funding to grass and upgrade the oval in time for the next football season. Any project developed or undertaken should include training and employment opportunities for local people and initiatives to encourage a sense of community ownership, management and sustainability.

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