It’s almost the end of the year, and there are few important things going on in the lead up to Christmas.
Firstly, I’d like to clarify my position in relation to the Space Base/ Rocket Launch facility. My main concern is not about the project itself. I’m not against this project, although I do have concerns that jobs for Yolŋu people will not be sustained and that key jobs will be held by outsiders. However, the main issue is that many clan leaders in East Arnhem Land have not been included in the decision making process. Yolŋu communities were concerned after hearing an initial briefing about where rockets may fly, fall, land, be retrieved. People are still feeling worried and confused about the project and the leaders have not been properly consulted. My job is to listen to everyone and voice concern of the people, particularly the people that aren’t being heard.
The NT Land Rights Act made provision that decisions should be made based on traditional law. In Yolŋu law, decision making process must involve multiple clans and includes the Yothu-Yindi, Märi-Guthurra, Waku-Yapa clans. Many clans are involved in a decision making process through rringitj alliances. This is how we maintain harmony and interconnection, and this runs through Ŋarra, Garma and any official business. This is Yolŋu Law, it is how we maintain Law and respect authority.
The current system employed by the NLC leaves many Yolŋu disempowered on their own land. As part of moving towards solid business enterprise for the region I want the issues of land ownership to be resolved, and proper consultation processes employed, so that there is a strong foundation for business and the region can prosper.
Another area of concern, I have been informed by the Department of Education that all Indigenous schools in the region will be losing funding in 2018. Schools need to be funded for all the students in the community, so that the hard-working Yolŋu and Balanda teachers can create relevant programs that engage all the children in the school. I know that teachers, school councils and school leadership are working hard, and losing funding just makes their jobs harder. Some of these schools have lost funding every year for the past decade. This is disappointing for the schools and the communities and I will continue to advocate for a better system for all.
On a happier note, I have been honoured to sponsor awards for many schools in the Electorate and I wish to congratulate all those students that have tried their best during 2017. I also congratulate the teachers and communities who support all the students of the region. Congratulations also to all the students graduating at every level of study. A great achievement.
It is with sadness that I want to remind people about the dangers of alcohol and drug use. Just a kind reminder with Christmas around the corner and my main message is for our beautiful teenage young people who might be celebrating. You might want to celebrate your graduation by getting drunk on alcohol and or getting high on drugs. Just remember that is not a wise decision to make, and it’s not necessary, and is not compulsory to life. It can and it has led people into addiction and dangerous situations. So stay safe and use your intelligence for something useful and preserve your cultural knowledge systems to show your children and the future generation that life is worth living.
Also in relation to health, I have been in contact with the CEO of FCD Health Limited and they advise the town of Nhulunbuy that they have secured a regular ongoing service with a long-term Territory doctor, Dr Gerry Goodhand who is based at Endeavour Health Service from Wednesday to Friday each week, with evening appointments. The practice has also secured a full-time registrar who will work at Endeavour Health service full-time from January 2018. This will be a great outcome for Nhulunbuy to have two doctors working each week in January. I wish to thank all the Doctors, Nurses and health professionals who are working hard across the communities to look after us and our families. And thank you to all the carers of family at home too.
I know that many people across the electorate are unhappy about the Airnorth Service. I have been in contact with Airnorth about these concerns from the electorate earlier in the year but I intend to follow up with the CEO again, and advocate for better service and prices. In April this year I lobbied the Chief Minister to consider remote travel subsidies. His response was not in favour of subsidies. His response outlined that the Government is working with the East Arnhem Regional Economic Development Committee and local stakeholders, to develop and implement a range of regional air, road and sea transport and freight services. Please contact his office directly about this process. I am also aware that there is a Senate Committee Inquiry announced in November into Regional Airline Services. The committee has announced they will hold a consultation in Darwin, and I have invited them to come to Arnhem Land to consult with communities here. Anyone can make a submission and they are open now: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Rural_and_Regional_Affairs_and_Transport/RegionalAirRouten
In November, I met with some people of the Uluru Statement of the Heart and they continue to work towards Treaty. There is momentum as the nation continues to move towards Treaties. Also in November I attended the Annual Report Hearings at Parliament. This is a good opportunity to question Ministers and Departments. I have a MLA facebook page where I detail these questions and other information. Please send a friend request if you want to see more; Yingiya Guyula MLA.
Thank you to everyone who has supported my office this year. With 5 towns, many homelands and 12 weeks at Parliament, I do not get to spend long in one place. I appreciate the time people have made to meet with me and as I have always said I will try to represent the needs of the people in this electorate fairly, both Yolŋu and Balanda.
I’d like to wish everyone a very happy and safe Christmas and New Year.
Thanks to all those many people who have dropped into the office, called or emailed me with your concerns. I really appreciate hearing from you. Please don’t hesitate to contact the Electorate Office if there’s anything we can possibly help you with. Djutjtjutj.
MLA Office is located upstairs Arnhem House, Endeavour Square, Nhulunbuy Town
Ph: 8987 0125 Email: Electorate.Nhulunbuy@nt.gov.au