Community Planning and Development: Youth Activities in Galiwin’ku

Date: Jun 1, 2018

It’s 6pm and young Yolngu are racing up and down the basketball courts in Galiwin’ku. Youth program coordinator Josie Wright organises a group of girls into teams for a game, while others watch from the sidelines.

This is part of the youth sport and recreation program delivered by East Arnhem Regional Council (EARC). In December 2017 the program got a major boost when Traditional Owners partnered with EARC to invest more than $400,000 to provide extra support to their young people. The money was used to hire a new coordinator and youth worker, and run extra youth activities. There’s now a disco on every Friday night and more sports competitions. The program has also expanded in to Buthan, where activities such as a cooking program, a movie night and a volleyball program run three times a week. 

“It is really good for us to be able to choose from different programs and also hang out together,” says one of the young men in the basketball comp Sheppy vs Jets.

The Youth Leadership groups are now involving more young men, and with an extra day of youth diversion, young people are being taught raypirri (cultural discipline) and safety. 

Traditional Owner Helen Nyomba says: “It is really good we can support our kids with this program. They can do activities like camping, getting stories about Yolngu culture and learning new skills. They will be our young leaders in the future. My vision is for this project to be long term.”

“We can now reach all areas of community that we couldn’t reach before and we have more capacity to deliver a wider range of programs throughout the week both with larger community and with smaller groups of young people and children,” says Youth Coordinator Rowan Busuttil.

As well as Galiwin’ku, the NLC’s new Community Planning and Development Program is supporting six other Traditional Owner groups across the Top End. Pilot projects are underway in the Daly River, Ngukurr, Gapuwiyak, South East Arnhem Land Indigenous Protected Area, Legune and Wadeye areas. The program supports Aboriginal people to drive their own development using their income from land use agreements. Traditional Owners see it as a way to achieve development objectives based on their priorities, knowledge and experience. 

With $5.3 million so far set aside for community development through the program, Aboriginal people are making a serious financial investment in their own lives and futures. However, to meet the many needs in Aboriginal communities and set up sustainable solutions, Aboriginal people know they need government to get on board to provide co-funding. The Galiwin’ku traditional owners have already taken steps to make sure that the extended youth program they are funding keeps going in two years. They have told the NT and Australian government of their funding decision and asked them to match it. They hope that by demonstrating the positive impact of an extended youth service both levels of government will come to the table with much needed extra funding.

This article was published in Land Rights News Northern Edition May 2018.