For the first time ever, Plan International Australia has extended its programming much closer to home, and last Thursday we gathered on Wurundjeri land to celebrate the official launch of our Australian program and partnership with Goŋ-Ḏäl Aboriginal Corporation
As part of the launch, we teamed up with Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts Aboriginal Corporation to present Napurr dhu Gurrpanmirr Dhuwal Miny’tji – Sharing Our Designs and Patterns, an exhibition at Collingwood’s Schoolhouse Studios, featuring the work of Yolŋu artists.
Goŋ-Ḏäl Aboriginal Corporation is a social enterprise and registered charity based in Gapuwiyak, a remote town in East Arnhemland, Northern Territory. The organisation embodies the spirit and vision of its namesake, a warrior and founding leader of Gapuwiyak who worked tirelessly to achieve strong leadership, governance, unity and self-determination of all Yolŋu clans.
For tens of thousands of years, Yolŋu have lived and moved between their ancestral clan estates in the area we now call Arnhemland.
At the launch event, Gawura Wanambi and Yaŋgipuy Wanambi, both Marraŋu leaders and founding and executive directors of Goŋ-Ḏäl Aboriginal Corporation shared with us the importance of homelands as the foundation of Yolŋu culture, and how for Yolŋu people everything comes from the land and the homelands. They reinforced to all of us that homelands are safer and healthier places for families to live, rather than in the bigger Yolŋu towns.
Gapuwiyak Culture & Arts Chairman and exhibiting artist Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr (foreground: left); Yolŋu Elder and exhibiting artist Paul Maymuru (foreground: right); Goŋ-Ḏäl Chairman and Director, Yangipuy Alfred Wanambi (background: left) and Goŋ-Ḏäl Founding Director, Gawura Wanambi (background: right).
In homelands, Yolŋu governance, cultural practices and connections to country are much stronger, people have greater control over their lives, and there are more opportunities for economic development.
However, the importance of homelands is not properly understood or recognised, and the lack of appropriate investment in and support for homelands is contributing to growing social problems and a weak regional economy, which poses a serious threat to homelands and to Yolŋu culture.
Goŋ-Ḏäl Aboriginal Corporation has been working towards their vision since 2014 and in forging an equal partnership with the organisation, Plan International is committing to reconciliation, closing the gap and creating opportunities for the community to participate fully in the economic and social life of Arnhemland, the NT and Australia.
Together we want to drive economic empowerment and lifelong learning, and to adapt and improve existing service delivery arrangements for remote homeland communities.
Our current goal is to continue supporting Goŋ-Ḏäl to build its capacity in order for the corporation to enable homelands communities to develop and thrive for the benefit of Yolŋu families, young people and children. At present this involves:
- Supporting the development of policies and processes to enable Goŋ-Ḏäl to employ people and to manage government programs and contracts.
- Developing a ‘both-ways’ lifelong learning program with homelands
- Employing a highly-skilled Yolŋu person as an inter-cultural engagement officer
- Further developing the innovation network and business incubator
- Improving the provision of government contracted services
- On an advocacy level, persuading the government to better value homelands
It takes time to understand different environments, cultures and the barriers facing communities, and the partnership with Goŋ-Ḏäl Aboriginal Corporation works both ways - we’re both sharing our respective expertise and learning from one another.
We hope that you’re as excited about our new program as we are and we look forward to the opportunity to foster change in our own backyard as we do in other parts of the world.
Goŋ-Ḏäl Founding Director, Gawura Wanambi (foreground: left); and Goŋ-Ḏäl Chairman and Director, Yangipuy Alfred Wanambi (foreground: right)
How you can get involved
There are a number of ways you can support our partnership and work in East Arnhemland.
You can make a tax-deductible donation here.
Purchasing art through collaborating social enterprise Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts Aboriginal Corporation is another way to support Yolŋu.
The exhibition at Schoolhouse Studios in Collingwood continues until June 26th 2019 and doors are open at Schoolhouse Studios on business days from 7am to 3pm.
Purchases of the unsold art works can be made through Schoolhouse Studios by contacting gallery curator Nina Mulhall at firstname.lastname@example.org or from Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts Aboriginal Corporation by contacting Art Centre Director Trevor van Weeren at email@example.com.