Australia: Nyirripi, Northern Territory

Cultural Strengthening project, Nyirripi

participants in the Cultural Strengthening program &copy: TBC

participants in the Cultural Strengthening program ©: TBC

(project established: 2010)

For a number of years indigo foundation has looked for a way to provide community development assistance to an Aboriginal community.

Trying to find a project where our support can have an important impact (given our relative small amounts of funding), meaningful relationships can be developed and which is appropriate to the community had proven difficult.

In 2010 the Mt Theo Program invited Sally Stevenson and Libby House to Yuendumu and Nyirripi to discuss and assess the possibilities of indigo foundation working with Mt Theo to provide support for Walpiri youth.

The Mt Theo Program is an internationally acclaimed youth program based in Yuendumu, 250kms from Alice Springs. It is the largest and closest community to Nyirripi, which is a further 150kms west and has a small population of around 150 people. Nyirripi is remote, marginalised and under resourced.

Nyirripi bush trip &copy: TBC

The visit was successful and resulted in a three year agreement for us to provide support to the young people of Nyirrpi through the Nyirrpi Youth Committee as well as general support to the Mt Theo Program.

Supporting Nyirrpi youth

The Nyirripi community was very clear that one of the most effective ways to support youth with the type of assistance we were offering was to fund cultural strengthening trips into the bush. The cultural camps supported by indigo foundation take older men and women and young people to country where stories about country and culture are told and songs, dances, ceremonies can be taught.

They provide a vital opportunity for the transfer of cultural knowledge. In addition to providing funds ($10,000/year) we work on building community development skills and processes with the Nyirrpi Youth Committee and its representative Kathleen Gibson.

Nyirripi bush camp &copy: TBC

Nyirripi bush camp ©: TBC

The first indigo foundation cultural camp took place in October 2010 after a month of preparations. The location was ‘Old Nyirrpi’, a soakage with large overhanging gum trees where many families lived before moving to the current ‘new Nyirrpi’. Authorisation was granted by Traditional Owner of Old Nyirrpi, Molly, who also agreed to come on the trip to teach. The key focus of the trip was to encourage young men to learn and practice ceremony for their skin and ‘Old Nyirrpi’.

Male elders taught the young men, whist the female elders taught the accompanying songs and stories around the mens’ ceremony which included hunting, collecting bush tucker, digging for fresh water, collection of ochre for painting. More than 60 Warlpiri people participated, as well as the two Mt Theo Youth Workers.

Nyirripi residents are very positive about the benefits of the camp and the general consensus from the community was that ‘it was a time of pride, joy, strong kinship, solidarity and awe.’

Participants in the Nyirripi bush camp &copy: TBC

Participants in the Nyirripi bush camp ©: TBC

Supporting the Mt Theo Program

As a result of our support, the Mt Theo Program now have Gilbert & Tobin providing pro-bono legal advice on a wide range of organisational, legislative and legal issues.

Susie Low, CEO of the program commented:

“it is hard to overestimate how important this has been to our ongoing commitment to community development and ethical and fair practices both for our clients and our staff.In particular we have been able to formalise appropriate documents relating to Vulnerable Persons Policy Mandatory Reporting Policy and a Code of Conduct as well as being advised on implementation of a new Award for all staff.”

Project Coordinator Alice Roughley
Board Representative Sally Stvenson
Contact for more information


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