YFER would like to congratulate a good friend Djapirri Mununggurritji on her recent title of Australian of the Year – Local Hero for Northern Territory.
Yolgnu elder Djapirri is committed to addressing the issues facing her community, including drugs, alcohol and violence. In 2004, she was instrumental in establishing the Yirrkala Women's Patrol, which saw Aboriginal elders walk the streets late at night to successfully deal with domestic violence, alcohol and other community safety issues. Djapirri coordinates patrol rosters, participates in patrols and liaises with police and community members. She also spent five years managing Nambara Arts and Crafts and as an accomplished artist herself is committed to the protection and promotion of Yolgnu art. She is currently Manager of the Yirrkala Women's Centre and is a trailblazer in the political arena. She was the first woman elected as Vice Chair of Yirrkala Dhanbul Council and the first woman to be nominated as Chair. She has worked hard in her community to bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, organising women's nights where Yolgnu and Balanda (white) women can meet and share culture. She is also working towards reconciliation on a national scale in her role on the board of Reconciliation Australia.
Djapirri is a strong woman with a deep commitment to her people.Djapirri has been involved with Core of Life since 2006 when she supported the first COL training in Gove NT. She has since been instrumental in supporting activities and training in the region to strengthen the messages delivered through Core of Life and YFER programs. Those of you who have met Djapirri are aware of her dedication, vision and her wicked sense of humour.
Djapirri traveled to Canada with Tracy and Deb in 2007 to present at the World Health Organisation's Health promotion & Health Education conference in Vancouver where they shared amazing experiences. It was here Djapirri saw snow for the first time, smelt pine trees and bravely traveled in a gondola up the mountain, but none were funnier than watching her and Deb trying to throat sing in a café in Nth Vancouver where the patrons didn't see the funny side! During this time though for Deb, Tracy and especially Djapirri, it was the opportunity to meet inspirational community leaders from all over the world and share stories of challenges faced by their people and successes/learning's they have seen or experienced.
Those that attended the last World Womens Health and wellbeing conference in Darwin last August may have attended the session on YFER's cross cultural activities in Nhulunbuy. Djapirri co presented at this conference with Tracy Deb another Yolgnu elder Frances Yunipingu and two high school students. The room was in awe as she spoke of the need for working together and sharing our knowing as a strong move to reconciliation for all Australians. The room celebrated her closing by raising their arms and joining hands and listening to a moving new piece by Geoffrey Yunipingu.
Deb and Tracy and all at Yfer congratulate Djapirri on her well deserved award and look forward to spending many more times working and playing together in the future.