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MOU a First Nations game-changer in East Arnhem Land

[supplied by Clarisa Collis]


A new MOU co-signed by CDU Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman and YYF Chair Djawa Yunupingu in Nhulunbuy aims to better support First Nations people with customised education, training, research and leadership opportunities. Image: supplied

A new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Charles Darwin University (CDU) and the Yothu Yindi Foundation (YYF) is expected to be a game-changer for First Nations people in East Arnhem Land.

The MOU co-signed today by CDU Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman and YYF Chair Djawa Yunupingu in Nhulunbuy aims to better support Aboriginal communities with customised education, training, research and leadership opportunities for the region.

To this end, the MOU ratifies a cooperative relationship to improve and expand tertiary outcomes that are tailored to the specific needs of First Nations Yolŋu people.

Under the MOU, YYF’s mandate to advance Yolŋu cultural development in consultation with its clan groups enables CDU to better engage with First Nations communities in new ways that are the most relevant and meaningful to those peoples.

For instance, a shared objective of the MOU will see CDU support the YYF Garma Institute and its vision to establish a world-class education hub on country in North East Arnhem Land.

This vision to complete the learning life cycle through the Garma Institute includes primary and secondary schools and a tertiary education facility.

To date, YYF has established the Dhupuma Barker primary school in the Gunyangara community – a bilingual school offering culturally-relevant education to children that has achieved up to 90 per cent attendance rates since it opened in 2021. 

Building on this, the CDU-YYF collaboration can help close the gap in educational outcomes, with the development of new on-country education options for Yolŋu students to transition from primary and secondary schooling to tertiary and vocational education and training.

But objectives of the MOU are wide-ranging and diverse.

For instance, it will help inform research to optimise social, cultural and economic outcomes for Yolŋu communities, and support the CDU Bidjipidji program, which is a residential camp for First Nations secondary students to experience University life at CDU.

CDU Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman said the MOU solidifies an important relationship with YYF to better support and lift engagement with First Nations people across the vast, remote region.

“The MOU provides a framework to explore new opportunities that make education and training more relevant and accessible to all Territorians, particularly Yolŋu people in East Arnhem Land,” Professor Bowman said.

“It will help forge new pathways to education, training, research and leadership that are better connected to traditional Indigenous culture and the needs of local industry and on-country jobs.

“Working with YYF to achieve shared goals to benefit Yolŋu communities also helps position CDU as the most recognised University for Australian First Nations training, education and research.”

YYF chair Djawa Yunupingu said the MOU was the first step in building a partnership that will enhance educational pathways for the local community.

“Education has always been at the heart of the Yothu Yindi Foundation’s work,” Mr Yunupingu said.

“The vision of creating a world-class home for education is something that our community leaders have been working towards for more than 20 years.

“That dream is now becoming a reality, and we’re pleased that CDU is going to partner with us as we complete this important work.”

The MOU will also expand the CDU tertiary education options available to Yolŋu people, with the introduction of new short courses and vocational training packages, and new modes for delivering them in remote locations.

Many of the University’s current and future course offerings will run at CDU’s new education facility based in the East Arnhem Land town of Nhulunbuy on the Gove Peninsula.


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