Fact Sheets

Fact Sheets

Click on the title to view the full pdf fact sheet about each topic.

01 Who We Are How We Started
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.)
02 The Early Days
‘Land Rights; Craft centres in all communities; Work for women; Health – especially of children; Protection of women’s sacred sites; Stores on communities; Pensioners – food and shelter; Housing; Good water supply; Petrol sniffing.’ Agenda items, first Women’s Council meeting, December 1980.
03 Responding to Need
In 1993 the then Commonwealth Department of Human Services and Health approached NPYWC about running a disability service. The Disability Support Project commenced in late 1993, operating across the NPY region, initially from the old Central Land Council office at Mutitjulu and later from the Women’s Council ‘tjuka tjapi’ demountable office, also at Mutitjulu. By mid-July 1994 the first two Project Officers, Elsie Wanatjura and Angela Lynch, had travelled 47,000 kilometres and identified an initial 74 Anangu with disabilities.
04 Governance
From its beginning in 1980 until June 1994, Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council was an unincorporated association and came under the auspices of the Pitjantjatjara Council Inc. In 1994 it incorporated under the federal Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976 (ACA Act.) The original membership application nominated 25 women from the ‘three sides’ of the NPY region. The register of members in 2010 contained more than 300 names.
05 What We Aim To Do
ngapartji ngapartji kulinma munu iwara wananma tjukarurungku:respect each other and follow the law straight
kalypangku: conciliatory
piluntjungku: peaceful and calm
kututu mukulyangku: kind-hearted
tjungungku: united
kunpungku: strong
Guiding Principles added to the Constitution by members in 2008
06 Service Delivery
“Go slowly, softly. Use your ears, eyes, heart and brain.” Mrs. T. Colin OAM (dec.), former NPYWC
staff member. Program areas, Clients, Case management, Staff, Aboriginal employment.
07 Funding
NPY Women’s Council receives several million dollars a year in grant funding – just over $5.5million in 2009/10 – from the Australian, West Australian, Northern Territory and South Australian Governments, to provide a wide range of human services, which governments prefer to contract out rather than deliver direct.
08 Domestic and Family Violence Service
In 1994 NPY Women’s Council began a domestic violence pilot project based initially at Mutitjulu NT and in Alice Springs. Violence against women is endemic in the region, and the issue was among those raised by members almost from the organisation’s beginning in 1980. The Domestic and Family Violence (DV) Service arose from their desire, despite their relative geographic isolation, to gain better access to the criminal justice system and other protective measures available to women residing elsewhere in Australia.
09 1 The Tjungu Team
The goal of the Tjungu Team is to assist Anangu and Yarnangu with disabilities, the aged and their carers to have a good life and feel happy in their communities. The care of the aged and those with a disability is a very significant issue, affecting virtually every family in the NPY region. The organisation’s initial entry into service delivery, in 1993, was via the Disability Support Project, with two workers to cover the entire NPY region, one of them initially paid by a government subsidy. From this the Tjungu Team has evolved, and is now one of NPYWC’s largest, with twenty or more staff based either in remote communities or in Alice Springs, and several hundred clients. Tjungu Team work is funded through more than a dozen grants from the Australian, WA, SA and NT Governments and some small philanthropic contributions.
09 2 The Tjungu Team
Tjungu Team staff must adhere to the organisation’s case management policy and principles. Among other things, this means that they must work in a respectful way with clients, develop plans for their individual and special needs, consider them in the context of their family situation, and provide them with ‘proper help’ – whether from within or outside the organisation. Support and supervision by management and the secure maintenance of accurate and updated client files is mandatory for all program staff.
10 Youth Program
The NPYWC Youth Program works across the organisation’s tri-state region, albeit at different levels in WA, SA and the NT. Services comprise diversionary activities, school holiday programs, individual case management and substance abuse and mental health awareness programs. Its approach is more than just a ‘sport and rec.’ model.
11 Child Nutrition and Well-being Program
The Child Nutrition and Well-being Program (Child Nutrition) originated in 1996 as the Nutrition Project, using a six-month Commonwealth Health grant to teach young mothers how to cook nutritious meals for their children. NPYWC members and Directors at the time saw this as a solution to the high number of children failing to thrive – commonly called ‘skinny kids’ – and the ‘welfare’ intervention that often resulted in their removal to predominantly non-Aboriginal foster care in major centres far from NPY communities.
12 Tjanpi Desert Weavers
In 1995 the (then) NPYWC Co-ordinator Maggie Kavanagh and Thisbe Purich, an NPYWC staff member who was employed to support the Ngaanyatjarra women’s centres, organised a banner and t-shirt painting workshop for around 60 women at the WA community of Blackstone. Afterwards, Thisbe tested her idea for a possible source of income for the women by giving them a demonstration, coiling long pieces of grass or tjanpi and binding them with shorter lengths.
13 Substance Abuse – Alcohol
NPY Women’s Council members have long-held and very strong views on the effects of alcohol on their families and communities. This very serious problem has taken up many, many hours of discussion at Directors’ and general meetings, and considerable time and effort has gone into advocacy and direct action.
14 Substance Abuse – Petrol
Petrol sniffing has without doubt been one of the biggest challenges to Anangu and Yarnangu in the NPY region, to NPYWC and to other Aboriginal people from central and more northern communities. It has destroyed families, devastated communities and resulted in many early and unnecessary deaths. NPYWC has been a significant participant in the struggle to overcome petrol sniffing. This has taken place on a number of levels: legal, bureaucratic, political, policy and research, and in the media.
15 Substance Abuse – Cannabis
The most popular illicit drug across Australia – cannabis – is heavily used in NPY communities, with very severe consequences. While there is no definitive data on cannabis use in the NPY region or Central Australia generally, there is no doubt that it is an enormous problem and consumption has been very much on the increase for a decade or more. Research in three East Arnhem Land communities in the Top End of the NT has documented ‘endemic’ levels of usage, ‘with over 70% of males and 20% of females being current users,’ around twice the consumption of regular cannabis users elsewhere in Australia. Further, in a five-year follow-up study the ‘great majority’ reported continuing heavy use, indicating more than mere adolescent experimentation.
16 Advocacy – Cross-border Justice Issues
Anangu and Yarnangu from the vast 350,000 square kilometre NPY Women’s Council tri-state membership area share close language, family and cultural connections (see Fact Sheet 1.) NPYWC’s programs operate across the SA, WA and NT borders, with few exceptions.
17 Advocacy – End Stage Renal Disease
In Central Australia there are close to 200 Aboriginal people with end stage renal disease (ESRD) on regular dialysis, with around 40 of these from the NPY region. The wider Central region has hundreds more in ‘pre-dialysis’ stage, and the Western Desert sector has the highest rate of ESRD in Australia. Alice Springs has been the main location for end stage treatment. A number of NPY members, their husbands or other family members are, or have been, renal dialysis patients. Several members who must live in Alice Springs because of their own or others’ need for dialysis are involved with the NPYWC Tjanpi Desert Weavers arts social enterprise (see Fact sheet 12.)