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Report from YAC's new Chairperson Marmingee Hand

Peter Murray

It’s a privilege to be elected as chairperson for Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation. It means some of our people have seen some positive qualities in my leadership, which is an honour.

My background has been mainly in education and I’ve worked across the whole spectrum, from primary to adult education. These days, my focus is encouraging girls from years 7 – 12 to be in engaged in their learning, to keep up their school attendance. I admire the young women of today, because they have to put up with so much in their young lives, there’s so much going on. It’s a reward to see the light bulbs switching on and the potential. But I think for all of our young people—both boys and girls—the challenge is in retaining the cultural connection to country and family.

Language and culture are very important to me and I hope to bring an emphasis on both in my new role as Chairperson of Yanunijarra. I also think good governance is crucial to the successful running of a corporation. It’s important to make clear decisions, to be fair and equitable, and to put in place good planning with measurable outcomes.

The great strength of Yanunijarra, is that we have had such strong cultural leadership and cultural advice from our old people. Just recently, we travelled to Kurlku in the Great Sandy Desert for the Ngurrara 2-Way Learning Cultural Camp. This camp involved young people from four schools in the Valley, old people and outside stakeholders, who all came together in the best interests of Ngurrara. This camp was important, because it created a classroom on country where young people could learn from old people.

The camp was about having people from Shell Australia who have sponsored the water monitoring project out on country, sharing the cultural way of working with the Ngurrara people.  The project has involved our rangers, Traditional Owners and our schools, and for five years now, we’ve been placing our footsteps side-by-side as part of this project. The water monitoring project is also helping our rangers have a better understanding of our  jilasand jumus, they are able tohelp scientists about our countrywith their traditional knowledge and understanding. Then Yanunijarra can make sustainable decisions regarding development on our country for future generations. The project combines Western science with the traditional knowledge of Ngurrara people, and is consistent with our belief that we need to walk in two worlds. 

I’m looking forward to working with all Yanunijarra directors and CEO to make sure that our people remain culturally strong, and also have the skills to participate in a Western wage economy.

I’m humbled to have been elected Chairperson and excited about the challenge ahead.