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Thursday, 21 May 2008

No future for Yolngu living on homelands

The Northern Territory government's A Working Future policy has left most Yolngu living on traditional lands without one.

Speaking on behalf of the Laynhapuy Homelands Association, Ms Yananymul Mununggurr said the new policy has shown the NT government has either refused, or is unable, to fully understand the cultural significance of homelands.

"Just days after the release of a ground breaking report outlining the major health benefits to Yolngu living on country1, the NT government announces a policy that relegates our homelands to third world conditions, if not extinction.

"We see this as a major betrayal of the trust of our people," Ms Mununggurr said.

"We've been engaged in ‘consultation' that has yet again proved meaningless.

"Where is the economic modeling, the data collection or cost-benefit analyses recommended by the NTG's own consultant, Mr Patrick Dodson, in establishing these new town centres?


Ms Mununggurr said members of the Association were surprised at the inclusion of Papunya as one of the NT government's twenty "growth centres" that will now be fully serviced and funded towns.

"We heard the Chief Minister Paul Henderson (on ABC Radio 105.7 Drive 20.5.09) say these 20 towns they've selected are the biggest in the NT.

"But that's not true. Their own information says so."

According to the NTG Bush Telegraph website, Beswick (Wugularr) community has an estimated population of 450 compared to Papunya with an estimated 342 people.2

"If you add Barunga to Wugularr, which is what government departments do considering the 30km distance between them, there's a combined population of around 800, so why did they miss out while Papunya is included?

"There doesn't seem to be a lot of thought behind this policy.

"The decision not to fund new housing for our homelands condemns Yolngu to further overcrowding, declining living conditions and ultimately the extinguishment of our traditional culture.

"How does that fit with the recent Rudd Labor Government's signing of the UN Rights of Indigenous Peoples?"

For further information: Yananymul Mununggurr 0447 827 027