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Yiriman Project update

In 2015 we were once again honoured to present a stage at Laneway Festival Melbourne named for one of our local music heroes, Dean Turner, and proud to be supporting the Yiriman Project in his name.

Since 2011, you have raised over $110,000 which goes directly into programs devoted to helping Aboriginal youth in the Kimberley region (including a devastating suicide rate of 1 in 1,200) by taking them ‘back to Country’ in the company of their Elders, where they can begin to reconnect with their culture and strengthen their sense of identity.

Jen Klewitz, Yiriman Women’s Project Coordinator, has sent us an update detailing all the great work being done and letting us know how your valued donations are being put to good use:


 

Hello to the Laneway community from the Yiriman Project!

For those of you that don’t know us, the Yiriman Project is an intergenerational, "on-Country" cultural program in the Kimberly, conceived, developed and directed entirely by Elders from four Kimberly language groups- Nyikina, Mangala, Karajarri and Walmajarri- and whose aim is to "build stories in young people" through on-Country projects, trips and activities which strengthen cultural identity, remove young people from the influences of drugs and alcohol, and strengthen Culture through the passing on Cultural knowledge.

Believing in the power of their own culture and of Country to heal their own young people, Elders take young people out on to Country, travelling over Country by foot, camel or vehicle, teaching and speaking in language, visiting ancestral sites, storytelling, engaging in traditional song and dance, preparing young people for ceremony and law practices, teaching traditional crafts, tracking, hunting, and preparing traditional bush tucker, practicing bush medicine, and passing on knowledge to the younger generations. 

Beyond the transfer of knowledge and skills, Yiriman trips provide a safe and effective space for relationship to others and to Country to develop, and for communication and decision making to occur by cultural means. In this way, cultural healing, originating from within the culture and guided by the Elders themselves occurs. Yiriman is highly successful in engaging a wide range of people in the community and working extensively with partner organisations in the region to make its mission possible.

Yiriman has been the recipient of a tremendous amount of support over the last four years from Laneway Festival through the Dean Turner Project. The four years since this initiative and partnership has been in place, Laneway donations have amounted to over $110,000, an astounding figure, collected from ticket sales and voluntary contributions from general and industry ticket holders. In 2014, Laneway invited 10 Yiriman women to travel to Perth to hold a market stall at the Laneway Festival, selling their hand-made goods formally for the first time, and educating the public about the Yiriman Project and their community in the Kimberly. It was an extraordinary opportunity which generated a tremendous amount of pride in the community.  We have stayed in close touch with the Laneway community over the last several years to share our growth and progress. 

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We at Yiriman cannot express our amazed, and profound thanks for your generosity and support, not just monetarily, but in the true belief in the mission and work of Yiriman, and in helping us spread the word about the importance of such work in the Aboriginal community.   In extremely difficult financial times, with staggering government funding cuts and other threats to remote Aboriginal communities, the support of Laneway has truly enabled Yiriman to do the work it does, which truly serves the community, and stands as a proud example to other Aboriginal Communities nationwide. The Yiriman Governance, in collaboration with the community, asses the most pressing needs of the community from within, and develop projects and strategies that address those needs directly, in the most Culturally relevant ways. Yiriman was proudly the recipient of the 2012 National Indigenous Governance Award.

The donated funding from Laneway goes directly to support activities on Country. Yiriman is known as the “little program that does a lot with little”. Funding goes towards basic costs for projects in the bush: food expenses, fuel and vehicles, basic camping equipment, and wages for our Elder teachers and advisors. Camps and activities can be 1-3 day projects in Communities or in the bush, all they way up to 10-day projects, in partnership with local organisations, in the remote bush including up to 60 people. We run capacity building workshops and training on Country, such as bush medicine and social enterprise training for women, preparing them to run small sustainable enterprises out of their communities, as well as “Caring for Country” programs, which train young men to work in a variety of fields such as Indigenous Ranger work.

We have a challenging but big year ahead for the Yiriman project. The weather is just beginning to cool down here in the Kimberly and we are preparing for a year full of important trips and activities. One of the main focuses this year, in response to the needs of the community, are running a series of camps on Country that address suicide, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and wellbeing. These camps, to be held at a variety of Culturally important sites, will be run in partnership with local schools, women’s centres, ranger groups, and Indigenous health organisations. The women’s program will be moving forward in taking their Bush Medicine enterprise to the next level of development, and the Men’s program will be conducting a series of “Caring for Country” trips which prepare youth for future work.

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Please visit our website at yiriman.org.au for more information, photos and stories about Yiriman. We are floored by all the support from Laneway. Without your support, the work of Yiriman truly would not have been possible in the last years. We look forward to our ongoing relationship and sending “good news” stories to you from the Kimberly as yet another amazing year at Yiriman unfolds.

On behalf of the Yiriman Governance, we extend our deepest thanks.

Jen Klewitz

Yiriman Women’s Project Coordinator 

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