Long-term priorities for Yuwaya Ngarra-li include supporting the capacity, governance, advocacy and leadership of Walgett Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs), and the redirection of government funding towards strengths-based, holistic, community-led initiatives in Walgett. The building and centring of Aboriginal community capabilities and control in Yuwaya Ngarra-li's work is a key enabler of all other projects.

As Virginia Robinson, Secretary of the Dharriwaa Elders Group, writes:

Since the 1970s, Aboriginal communities have played leading roles in building community-led development in areas such as local government, health, housing, community and welfare services. An understanding of community-led factors facilitates successful Aboriginal community-led programs, and is important for informing programs and organisations.

In practice, this means that community-led programs through Yuwaya Ngarra-li are programs where the local Aboriginal community has decision-making control and responsibility for their implementation. In this vein, Yuwaya Ngarra-li is seen as facilitator rather than expert as it values the community-led development process and because ultimately, community-led development efforts for Yuwaya Ngarra-li will be sustainable and the Walgett Aboriginal community will learn how to tackle its own problems and use the contributions of others to help them do so. The best forms of insight and capability come from doing, while being appropriately supported.

Having strong Aboriginal leaders associated with projects satisfies several other success factors such as trust and flexibility. Yuwaya Ngarra-li benefits from the DEG’s collaborative working relationships with local ACCOs in Walgett to achieve positive outcomes for the community and implement effective programs using existing community strengths. Thus, there is already a built capacity for the progression of community-led development with a critical mass of people.

Walgett ACCOs are involved in and manage a broad range of programs, services and businesses (including, for example, those developed through partnerships and funding arrangements). Local Aboriginal leadership contributing to the planning, design and implementation of programs is a critical factor for Yuwaya Ngarra-li success in Walgett; something that is upheld as a primary operating principle.

Advocating for long-term change

Yuwaya Ngarra-li is committed to supporting Walgett ACCOs' advocacyleadershipvoices and priorities for long-term change in Walgett.

Our work has included:

  • Data and support to enable meaningful participation by Walgett ACCOs in Closing the Gap processes
  • Research and policy advice to the Walgett Community College School Reference Groups
  • Scoping currently available training supports for Walgett ACCO professional development
  • Media training for Aboriginal leaders in Walgett
  • Research to understand where government contracts and grants relating to Walgett are being allocated as a baseline and advocacy tool to enable increases in community control in coming years
  • Producing resources that promote and teach the legacy, values and approaches of Walgett ACCOs
  • Producing policy for Walgett ACCOs to advise NSW Parliamentary Inquiries, for example into food and water security and rural and remote health services
  • Content creation training with the Australian Film TV and Radio School for Walgett ACCO staff
  • Leading long-term civic pride projects, including renewing Walgett's walking tracks and interpretive signs, Walgett Cemetery upgrade and DEG commemorative garden, and conserving scarred trees.

COVID-19 response

With support from Yuwaya Ngarra-li collaborators, the DEG were able to play a critical role in the local COVID emergency response and coordination, fundraising and securing PPE for frontline workers and community members, ensuring ongoing access to food, advocating for adequate housing for those affected, and leading community engagement and facilitating vaccination for Elders and community members in Walgett.

Ongoing initiatives include

  • With collaborators Nook Studios, YN has published a policy paper, Creating better futures with contracts, which aims to progress genuine partnerships between government and Aboriginal communities and to improve access to information and participation in government procurement and grants. YN is also developing a further policy paper on making government finances make sense for Aboriginal communities.

  • YN undertook research on Elders' perspectives and priorities around ageing well, which has been published in The Conversation and an international ageing journal. With collaborator Bob Davidson, YN also produced Caring for Elders, Community and Culture, which describes DEG's aged care service, its future aspirations and recommendations around proposed changes to the Australian Government's funding of aged care services that could undermine the work of DEG and other ACCOs.

  • YN is developing a customised linked administrative dataset focused on Aboriginal children and young people and their families, with data from child protection, health, education, housing, police, courts, and justice and corrections agencies to enable DEG's own community-led analysis and evaluation.

  • With historian collaboration Michael Bennett, WAMS and DEG are writing their services's histories and a training resource explaining the difference between their approaches and mainstream service delivery.

  • ACCOs are very effective in meeting the needs of Aboriginal people but need greater access to resources and expertise that support and enable them to do the critical work needed in communities. YN is developing a model for an ACCO Capability Support Unit that could operate state-wide and be a source of practical advice and support, providing a range of possible assistance at different levels of support and different stages that is customised according to the needs and wishes of each ACCO.