About us

A community-led partnership between the Dharriwaa Elders Group and UNSW.

Walgett partnership team

Yuwaya Ngarra-li (vision) is a community-led partnership between the Dharriwaa Elders Group, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation working for cultural management and community development in Walgett for more than 23 years, and UNSW collaborators with expertise in criminology, public health, food and water security, engineering, housing, social policy and evaluation.

The Dharriwaa Elders will lead a collaboration with UNSW and other supporters to grow our individual and community strengths and assets. We aim to restore a robust belonging to thriving families, community and country, while making our place in the nation and sharing our learning with other communities.

The partnership is working to improve the wellbeing, social, built and physical environment and life pathways of Aboriginal people in Walgett through collaborating on evidence-based initiatives, research and capacity building. Yuwaya Ngarra-li is also refining and evaluating this as a model of community-university collaboration: CommUNIty-Led Development. 

Yuwaya Ngarra-li (you-why-uh nyuh-ruh-lee) is enabled by community, university, government and philanthropic support. The diagram below communicates how we work together for positive change.

Yuwaya Ngarra-li's long-term goals in Walgett are:

1. Greater Aboriginal community control and capacity 

2. Increased numbers of Aboriginal young people in education, training and employment 

3. Reduced numbers of Aboriginal people in contact with the criminal justice system 

4. Improved social determinants of health and wellbeing amongst Aboriginal people 

5. Increased sustainable management of water and country 

6. Redirection of government funding towards strengths-based, holistic, community-led initiatives.

Our principles

Five core principles were developed collaboratively between the Dharriwaa Elders Group (DEG) and UNSW and underpin all of the work of the Yuwaya Ngarra-li Partnership. These were then grounded culturally and conceptually in a Briefing Paper by Virginia Robinson, Walgett Aboriginal Elder and DEG Secretary. They are to be:

  • Aboriginal Elders and local community organisations are best placed to lead the development of culturally appropriate and sustainable solutions that empower and strengthen their community. The focus is on building capacity, with Aboriginal people leading, engaged and employed wherever possible.

  • Aboriginal culture and knowledge is central and vital to strong, resilient and flourishing communities. Families and communities who are connected culturally and spiritually have a strong sense of identity, and can help individuals to connect with, support and help protect one another. Elders have a significant role in contributing to family and community life.

  • Taking a strengths-based approach seeks opportunities to complement and develop existing strengths and capacities. This approach recognises resilience and focuses on potential, interest, ability, knowledge and capacity, rather than deficits and disadvantage. The key strengths of the Walgett community relate to cultural beliefs, connections to Country, family and community loyalty, and strong local community organisations.

  • Evidence shows there is a clear need for a holistic, integrated, culturally responsive model of care with rigorous client and community accountability to support Aboriginal people experiencing entrenched disadvantage and complex support needs. A holistic approach works to overcome siloed thinking, particularly around service provision, address problems in an integrated way, and develop long-term solutions.

  • Under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies to exercise their right to development, to be actively involved in determining health, housing and other economic and social programmes affecting them, and to administer such programmes through their own institutions. 

DEG Speaker Clem Dodd on Yuwaya Ngarra-li

We work with the community where change requires the community to push a little and we push back a little – like a bow saw. Sawing together shows our partnership. We give them the tool to see their strengths and identify their resources and then work together.

Our people

Our team is made up of people based in Walgett, Sydney and beyond.