Yolŋu Nations Assembly calls for a Treaty

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Media Statement  

30th January 2014

Yolŋu Nations Assembly (Yolŋuw Makarr Dhuni)

Indigenous Treaties


Yolŋu Nations Assembly (YNA) supports the call for treaties with Indigenous peoples.

YNA Co-Convenor, Matthew Dhulumburrk Gaykamaŋu, says:

“We want a treaty because right now we get directives just from the government side- for housing, education, skills training. This is one-sided talk that never ends in things that work.

Government needs to listen to Yolŋu thinking for Yolŋu problems.

A Treaty is good because we need a foundational agreement for the Australian government and the Yolŋu government, before anything else happens.”

YNA Spokesperson, Djiniyini Gondarra, says:

“All of Arnhem Land, we still maintain our law, maintain our language and have our land. We have not been conquered. We need our society recognised.”

On Australia day (2014) Dr. M. Yunupiŋu was awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) posthumous.

Yalmay Yunupiŋu tells us about her husband Dr Yunupiŋu, the lead singer of Yothu Yindi, and his desire for a treaty:

“From the Barunga statement (1988) he wrote Treaty to reinforce that word. He wanted a Treaty because Yolŋu were not being recognised as first peoples. He wanted self management, self determination and respect as a human being. He wanted to stop the death of Yolŋu law, custom, and language, to stop the genocide of his people. He wanted mutual respect for each other.

A Treaty for Yolŋu people was a big part of my husbands mission. He wanted harmony. So for that award he received on Australia day, Companion of the Order of Australia, if Australia respects this award, they will respect this call for a Treaty. He was never angry, he was always calm, let’s work towards a Treaty likewise.”


About Richard Trudgen

Richard was born in Orange NSW and trained as a fitter and turner. He moved to Arnhem Land in the NT in 1973 and became a community worker, learning to speak Djambarrpuyŋu. Has now worked with Yolŋu people for over 45 years. He was the CEO of Aboriginal Resource and Development Services (ARDS) for 10 years during which time he developed discovery education methodology with Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM and also established Yolŋu Radio in 2003. He is the author of Why Warriors Lie Down and Die and facilitated ‘Bridging the Gap’ seminars, and delivered corporate training across Australia. He is currently the CEO of Why Warriors Pty Ltd, a community development social enterprise organisation working with Yolngu people. He spends his day writing, producing podcasts and building online learning platforms, producing videos and working face to face with Yolngu. He is also involved in building online cross-cultural training material to build understanding between Indigenous peoples and the Dominant Culture.


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