Feature storyStronger Futures in the NT

Djapirri helping to build positive change in Yirrkala

Like many communities in the Northern Territory, Yirrkala in North East Arnhem Land has its own Indigenous Engagement Officer (IEO).

Listening to community members is a key role of the IEO, as is providing feedback to Government on local issues affecting the community. The community’s voice is heard through Government consultations and, in turn, the community receives information about and access to Australian Government programs.

Yirrkala woman, Djapirri Mununggirritj, has been an IEO for her community since January 2013. She is the link between her community and the Australian Government as it delivers the 10-year Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory initiative.

“Through the program I can see there is a partnership between my community and the Australian Government, working together to build a stronger future for Yirrkala,” Djapirri said.

“I see the role of the IEO as very important. It involves passing on a lot of knowledge – knowledge of the Government’s way of looking at things and knowledge of the way the community will engage with Government initiatives. Then putting the two together to create a stronger future for my community.”

Djapirri said her role as IEO has allowed her to return to her community and apply what she has learnt through many years of employment with local companies and engagement with governments.

“The most rewarding part of my job is to work with both my community and the Government and build that bridge of knowledge between both parties,” Djapirri said.

“I’d like to see my community of Yirrkala aim for a stronger future that we will all work together to make happen.”

Yirrkala Government Engagement Coordinator, Maryclaire Milikins, said the role of the IEO is paramount to the success of Stronger Futures in community.

“The IEO facilitates the community’s understanding and access to Australian Government policy and programs through disseminating information in a language and context that is appropriate.

“The IEO also enables the success of programs under Stronger Futures by facilitating community consultation and being the conduit for relaying community information and feedback to Government on policy and program development.”

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Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory is a 10-year commitment by the Australian Government to work with Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory to build strong, independent lives, where communities, families and children are safe and healthy.