Women on country

Aboriginal women often face a number of inhibitors to working on country, including lack of transport and their preference for doing family-oriented activities. Natural Resources Alinytjara Wilurara (AW) are committed to supporting women to get out on country so they can visit sacred sites, teach young women how to care for country, share knowledge and actively care for sites such as rockholes and soaks.

In early 2012, Traditional Owners and elders from the areas surrounding Mamungari Conservation Park expressed how important it was for women to get back to this country. As a result of this, a trip was planned to support women to re-visit sites of cultural significance and to discuss land management issues.

Community members, staff from Natural Resources AW, members of the AW Natural Resources Management Board, Mamungari Co-management Board and the Ceduna Aboriginal Arts and Culture Centre worked tirelessly to establish where and when a women’s gathering should happen, why it needed to happen, and who needed to be involved.

After much planning, in September 2012, 51 women gathered together on their country as part of ‘Minyma Tjuta Tjunguringanyi’ to share stories and talk about what they wanted for the future of women and their land.

The women came from many different communities across the AW region, including:

  • Ceduna
  • Koonibba
  • Scotdesco
  • Yalata
  • Oak Valley
  • Port Augusta
  • Indulkana
  • Tjuntjuntjuara (Western Australia).

The gathering concentrated around important women’s sites near Serpentine Lakes in the Mamungari Conservation Park – many women had not been back to the sites in more than 15 years and, for some, it was a first visit.

Discussions amongst the group included the:

  • spread of buffel grass and the fire risk it poses
  • impact of feral camels on rock holes and traffic safety
  • importance of women’s sacred sites around Mamungari Conservation Park
  • importance of women from the communities having a voice on management boards.

The group did maintenance work at an important rockhole and meeting place, ‘Tjintirrkarra’, and the elders shared the story of Tjintirrkarra and the surrounding land.

Throughout the gathering, led by the Tjuntjuntjara elders, everyone contributed to a painting of the dreaming story of Tjintirrkara. The painting was presented as a gift of thanks to the Ceduna office of Natural Resources AW and the Ceduna Aboriginal Arts and Culture Centre. It hangs in honour of the gathering and a reminder of the important role of women in caring for the land.

What next?

Minyma Tjuta Tjunguringanyi brought women together to reconnect, share knowledge, teach daughters, and guide the land management on their country. As the gathering was so successful, the group decided the women should come together again at the same time next year, along the path of the seven sisters dreaming.

Partners

Mamungari Co-management Board; Ceduna Aboriginal Arts and Culture Centre; Natural Resources SA Arid Lands; Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula

Location

Community projects