Why Warriors is a community development social enterprise company working for and with the Yolngu (Aboriginal) people in north-east Arnhem Land. Our activities are outlined below, but first, please meet the team.
Bilingual-bicultural production team
Why Warriors has a highly experienced bilingual, bicultural production team consisting of the Rev. Dr. Djiniyini Gondarra OAM, Dianne Biritjalawu Gondarra, Maratja Dhamarrandji, Witiyana Marika, and Richard and Tim Trudgen.
This team has:
- produced hundreds of podcasts and videos on our Djambatjmarram Yolngu Learning Site over many years
- run the Bridging The Gap Seminar around Australia for over thirty years, teaching mainstream English first language people how to improve their cross-cultural communications skills to work with traditional First Nations Australians
- trained and mentored local councillors and board members
- built Yolngu businesses and media outlets
- mentored and run training workshops for Balanda and Yolngu.
Balanda = English first language speakers.
We have a 50-year working relationship between this team and many other Yolngu leaders from various Yolngu clans across Arnhem Land. This depth of understanding has given us a unique insight into life-challenging issues that the Yolngu and other Aboriginal people face and has allowed the creation of culturally appropriate solutions.
One of our key working principles is to listen first and act later. We acknowledge that it is vital to understand each situation’s unique issues and circumstances before working with the stakeholders to find a solution that works for them.
Our flagship book Why Warriors Lie Down and Die provides a greater understanding of why the gaps between Indigenous people and other Australians are not closing in so many areas. It suggests strategies for achieving true empowerment of Aboriginal people and genuine reconciliation with First Nations Australians.
Empowering the Yolngu people
The most important act of empowerment for the Yolngu people of north-east Arnhem Land is to give them information in their language and through their worldview.
Yolngu Learning Site
Yolngu people are desperate for answers to myriad questions as they struggle to understand English communication. Our Yolngu Learning Site has podcasts and videos, including economics/business, law/governance and health issues. These resources have become vital for at least 10,000 Yolngu people as they navigate their lives.
Despite the strong evidence of its efficacy, our Yolngu Learning Site called Djambatjmarram (skill yourself up) has been unable to obtain ongoing funding. We require funding in order to answer more life-changing questions and build an app that will allow greater access for Homelands Yolngu people.
The Self-learning tools
Yolngu people speak English as a second or additional language and so struggle to understand complex English. To address this gap, we are building Hard English word podcasts. Yolngu are in jail because they do not know the meaning of some English words. By providing Yolgnu people with explanations of targeted complex words and phrases, we enable them to engage better with the English-speaking world.
Furthermore, Yolngu Matha – the language of the Yolngu people – differs substantially from English in its structure. To address this problem, we have produced 300 simple English learning lessons to help Yolngu children and adults understand the structure of English.
Given sufficient resources, we believe we can turn this Yolngu Learning Site into a full online Yolngu school with a full English learning course. Given the success of our pilot program, we are confident that this program would assist Yolngu to survive into the future.
Face-to-face workshops for Yolngu.
In addition to our substantial online presence, we also run face-to-face workshops with Yolngu, covering a wide range of issues, from primary health to running a business and governance in their own legal and economic language. We have experience across a wide range of subjects.
Empowering Yolngu businesses
We are also supporting Yolngu business owners in running their own businesses and corporations. We decided to do this after a number of Yolngu begged us to help them understand the Balanda services that have been funded to help them.
Now we provide bilingual and bicultural administration, accounting, mentoring, governance, regulatory compliance, marketing and human resources management support services. We will also train the Yolngu to take over their accounting systems and use modern online business platforms.
We are also tooling up to help Yolngu access markets for many of the primary products they have produced and traded for centuries from their clan lands. This will help restore the traditional trade routes lost when the South Australian government stopped international trade into northern Australia in 1906.
Training for Balanda
Why Warriors is also building online training courses covering: cultural awareness, cultural competency, human dynamics and community development, cross-cultural communication and community education subjects. These are to help Balanda work with Yolngu in a culturally safe, more productive way.
More Balanda than ever are coming to Arnhem Land to work with the Yolngu people, but they receive little or no training. This puts all the load on the Yolngu people to bridge the cultural and language gap. This also leaves the Balanda out on a limb, not knowing how to work in this strange new cross-cultural environment. So many burn out and leave within a few months, costing the government a fortune when they need to be replaced. And the same tragic cycle occurs all over again.
We have been involved in training Balanda coming to Arnhem Land for over 40 years. These self-driven, lifetime-access cultural courses offer a convenient learning opportunity for individuals and organisations to start to turn things around.
They deliver frontline information that is hard to access anywhere else. They teach essential knowledge for;
- anyone intending to enter any traditional Aboriginal community,
- those who want to learn more about the real issues affecting Yolngu and other Aboriginal people, or
- others who just want to learn more about the Original Australian (Aboriginal) culture and way of life.
Our three introductory online courses can be purchased as a Starter Pack or individually as Worldview, the Yolngu Kinship System and Tips for Teachers. The Starter Pack includes a free video explaining cultural safety and using daily examples to help Indigenous people experience cultural safety and achieve better outcomes. We are receiving fantastic feedback from early course participants.
All profits from these courses are used to produce more podcasts and videos like the new Chronic Disease video series. Yolngu people desperately want access to information like this in their own language as they suffer from the Highest Avoidable Death Rate in Australia.
Mentoring mainstream professionals
The recruitment costs of professionals for the government and many Aboriginal-run organisations are now unsustainable.
Some professional positions are now very difficult to fill due to the reputational damage from this flawed cross-cultural HR policy. And as mentioned, the constant turnover of Balanda professionals places a massive traumatic burden on Yolngu students, patients and other community members.
Our mentoring service can get your staff through those tough times and make their experience working with Yolgnu people a positive one. We can cut your training costs and make your professional team productive and sustainable.
Helpful resources for Balanda
Learning medical, economic or legal Yolngu Matha takes years, so we are developing a range of online accessible cross-cultural, bilingual resources to fill the gap.
The first resource will give doctors and nurses ‘one-stop’ access to a wide range of Yolngu Matha resources, explaining different medical conditions in Yolngu Matha.
Cross cultural consultancies
Why Warriors also offers cross-cultural consultancies.
- If your organisation struggles to understand your Yolngu clients or employees, we can deliver you unknown information from the other side of the language and cultural divide.
- We have a high success rate of delivering complicated messages to communities that will deliver real positive results and close down the issue.
- Perhaps you just need some language and cross-cultural expertise. We can help.
We welcome the opportunity to discuss how Why Warriors may be able to assist you.
How you can help?
Do you know anyone;
- with deep pockets and who wants to really make a difference for Yolngu or other Aboriginal people, or
- someone who has access to decision-makers or who can write funding submissions
- who can volunteer to help us
Please get in touch with us, as together we can be future changes.
CEO / Community Educator