History & Map

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“So I said to the women, ‘Eh, we should become separate.’ I suggested this because we had been told to be quiet and leave.We all had something to say, about caring for our children and families, about our aspirations to have good lives. We wanted to talk about issues to the government. We wanted to talk together to give a strong message. That’s why we formed the Women’s Council.” Nganyinytja OAM (dec.)

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The common interests and family and cultural connections of women from the ‘three sides’ of the central desert region, and a united cross-border approach to issues and services are the underlying strengths of NPY Women’s Council.

These ‘three sides’ are the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in South Australia, the Ngaanyatjarra Lands leasehold and native title holdings in Western Australia (formerly the Central Reserves and other land tracts) and the four southern Northern Territory communities of Imanpa, Mutitjulu, Docker River and Aputula (Finke.)

When NPYWC was formed in 1980, the Pitjantjatjara Council Inc. represented Anangu and Yarnangu from these three sectors of the central region. The twenty-five communities and homelands spread over a vast 350,000 square kilometres continue to constitute the organisation’s membership and service delivery area. The members share language, historical, cultural and familial connections and concerns for themselves and their families that take precedence over state and territory borders.

In its first decade or so NPYWC’s role largely involved supporting and advocating for women, including:

  • participating in the struggle for legal rights to traditional lands;
  • obtaining funding to establish new and upgrade existing community art and craft centres;
  • obtaining funding for vehicles for women to attend meetings, visit and care for sites, conduct ritual business and gather materials for art and craft enterprises;
  • assisting women to visit sites, follow dreaming tracks, renew bonds to country and erect museums for the storage of sacred objects;
  • assisting women in the registration and protection of sacred sites at Uluru;
  • assisting in the research for and planning of the Congress Alukura Aboriginal women’s health and birthing centre in Alice Springs;
  • organising women’s art exhibitions including ‘Minymaku – work of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Ngaanyatjarra Women’s Council’ Alice Springs, 1989;
  • organising the participation of NPY women in cultural events: the Festival of Pacific Arts in Townsville, 1988 and the Kyana Aboriginal Cultural Festival in Perth, 1991 and 1993; performing inma (traditional song and dance) in Berlin, Leipzig and Hamburg, Germany at the request of the Australia Council, 1994.
  • arranging training courses for elected Executive (Board) members;
  • organising interpreter training for women on communities;
  • researching the care options and needs of the elderly and those with disabilities;
  • assisting in the production of videos about women’s law and stories;
  • facilitating a trip to several NPY communities by members of a national women’s consultative group where women raised the need for action to deal with domestic violence, alcohol abuse and petrol sniffing;
  • arranging for women to attend conferences dealing with issues including health, land management, education and women’s cultural affairs: the UN end of the Decade of Women gathering in Kenya, 1984; the 6th International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect, Sydney 1986; the First International Indigenous Women’s Conference, Adelaide 1989; International Indigenous Women of the World conference, Christchurch New Zealand, 1993.