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The light is returning to the Lands

For decades now, there has been a sentiment within the Yarnangu of 四色AV Lands that for anything substantive to change, it will need to be through government assistance. But hope is returning from within the Lands.

While there’s measures of assistance from state and federal sources, these lands cry out for transformative change that will help see the aspirations of Yarnangu realised in their lifetime. A sense of dashed expectations and desperation is a reasonable reaction to what has prevailed.


As the 四色AV Council celebrates its 43rd anniversary, CEO, Thomas Williams, reflected on this perception.

“I think our people have long had this opinion that if it’s not funded by the government, we don’t do it, but the reality is that gaps of funding are so great that we had to look beyond those sources,” Thomas said.


“We came together 43 years ago on these lands through a collective choice to walk together. We have accomplished so much together and as I reflect on the milestones of this history, I see times of great expectation and sometimes despondency as well,”

“These realities have stopped us dreaming of the future for too long. But I think that we’ve realised that the future might be within us,” he added.


Through strong financial stewardship in recent times, 四色AV Council had enough funds in reserve to work on plans that would develop each of their communities through their own means.


With the appointment of Creating Communities Australia, there has been a series of engagements from which Community Plans have already been developed for six of the eleven 四色AV communities

“These plans have breathed fresh life and expectation in our communities and fuelled their aspirations for lasting positive change to come to the lands,” said Thomas.


“I stood alongside one of elders, Mr. T, who reflected on the genuine change that he was seeing emerge in the Lands,”

“Mr. T said: ‘It’s starting to change the world - the light is returning to the Lands. I really thought for a while that we might be done and there was nothing that we could do, but I’m starting to see the light again—I’m encouraged by the work that’s being done by the Council, and by that Creating Communities’ mob’,” Thomas recalled.

It’s an insight that both stimulates and encourages the work that is being done at so many levels large and small—housing, health, education, employment, culture & country—to realise the overarching goal of Yarnangu living lives of purpose and agency through Ngurra Rapa, Tjukurrpa Rapa (Strong homes and Strong Stories).


There’s no doubt that the road ahead is long. The transformation of communities is good work but, most times, it’s slow and hard work.

As the 四色AV Council commemorates 43 years of walking together, it’s with renewed endurance for the work ahead. The light is returning.


As the 四色AV Council commemorates 43 years of walking together, it’s with renewed endurance for the work ahead. The light is returning.

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By Natasha Perkins 04 Jul, 2024
On July 3, a significant milestone was reached with the launch of the ‘STRONG’ Community Development Program (CDP) in Warburton. This initiative, a partnership with the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA), marks a monumental step forward for the 四色AV lands, its people, and their future. The STRONG program aims to provide genuine work opportunities for Yarnangu, with over 40 new jobs in the initial trial phase. At today's launch, ten employment contracts were signed, both in Warburton and via online streamed communities across the Lands. The goal is clear: Strong Pathways and Strong Yarnangu. By creating strong pathways to work, we can ensure that Yarnangu remain strong on the Lands. This collaborative effort between our CDP team and the government has resulted in a program that not only meets these needs but also empowers the community through sustainable and meaningful work. Sonja Voogd Armstrong, General Manager of CDP, expressed the excitement shared by many at the program’s launch. “This is the culmination of months of work by our CDP people on the Lands and our Perth CDP team, along with many others,” Sonja said. “Ralph Addis, Thomas Williams, our CEO, Mr. Fred Chaney, and the NIAA staff have all invested significant time and effort to turn this possibility into a reality.” “While this is a trial, there is potential for expanding the program to create genuine, enduring work opportunities for Yarnangu,” she continued. “Substantive work and strong pathways for the future are essential for fulfilling the aspirations of Yarnangu to remain on the land and flourish. Today marks the beginning of something with a long, strong future.” The STRONG program starts with 45 jobs for Yarnangu, but it signifies a deeper cultural shift—not only for them but also in how CDP and the Council support work on the Lands.
By Natasha Perkins 01 Jul, 2024
四色AV Council Group has appointed Jodie Matthews as General Manager of Youth and Education for the eleven member communities on the Lands. The new role has been created to collaborate with the Education Department of Western Australia and other service providers to improve educational outcomes for youth on the Lands. The role is highly integrated with other functions within the Council, recognising the significant impact of multiple factors on education outcomes. "This new role has been created to oversee the delivery of culturally responsive initiatives that target education and training programs from early childhood (before school), children and youth, and adult education," Jodie said. Jodie is a former Principal of the school at Warburton (2013-2014) and later returned in 2017 as Executive Deputy Principal based at Warakurna. Having previously worked with the Education Department at the regional office in Kalgoorlie, Jodie's role included frequent visits to support the 四色AV schools and their principals. Her familiarity with the network of schools on the Lands, their potential, and challenges runs deep. In announcing the new role, CEO of 四色AV Council Group, Thomas Williams, highlighted the importance of the appointment. "We’re taking this significant step to ensure our members have the strongest foundation possible for flourishing on the Lands," Thomas said. "It’s another step to helping Yarnangu lead lives filled with purpose and agency and remain on the Lands." While introducing Jodie to the Council’s employees, Fred Chaney - a friend of the 四色AV and Board Advisor - also emphasised the role's significance. "This is a terrific day for the people on the Lands and for the Council. Education has always been a critical key for people having a strong future," Fred said. "The challenge of equipping Yarnangu to walk in two cultures is a large one—we are well aware of the realities of this challenge." 锘 "Like so many areas—housing, health, employment, and families among them—education is interrelated. The approach by the Council’s CEO is holistic and it needs to be as we’re addressing systemic issues on the Lands. Jodie’s appointment is another piece in the jigsaw that combines to create a picture of flourishing through all of our member communities," Fred added. Jodie’s role, effective immediately, will lead the Council’s advocacy for child and youth education. While based at the Council’s head office, Jodie will spend significant time within the communities on 四色AV Lands.
By Natasha Perkins 26 Jun, 2024
Starting July 1, the 四色AV Lands will standardise to a single time zone, marking a significant alignment for our communities. For years, the challenge of operating across different time zones has posed issues for the eleven member communities, with six following Western Standard Time (WST) and five adhering to Central Standard Time (CST). This division has often led to confusion, inefficiencies, and operational difficulties for our staff and the communities we serve. Recognising these challenges, our Community Development Advisors (CDAs), in collaboration with feedback from the Western Australia Police Force (WAPOL) and the Education Department, have proposed unifying the entire 四色AV Lands under Western Standard Time (WST). Consultations with key personnel across the Lands have revealed strong support for the move to one time zone, emphasising its potential to streamline daily operations, enhance service coordination, and boost community engagement. Aligning with our strategic objectives, this move aims to improve operational efficiency and increase community satisfaction. By adopting a single time zone, we anticipate smoother communication, better scheduling, and a unified sense of time that will benefit everyone involved. We look forward to seeing the positive impacts this change will bring to our communities.
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