Yarralin’s path to self-determination

Jun 2, 2022

It’s been two years since Yarralin became Victoria Daly’s first community to have its council office, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), aged care, and the remote schools attendance program run completely by Indigenous staff. We sit down with Mayor Pedwell to find out why that matters.

Mayor Pedwell, you’re a Yarralin local and the Councillor for Walangeri Ward. Can you tell me a little bit about Yarralin and how you reached the 100 per cent Indigenous staff target?  

Situated on the banks of the Wickham River, Yarralin (also known as Walangeri) is the service centre for the nearby Indigenous communities of Lingarra Outstation and Nitijupurru (Pigeon Hole).

In 2018, we achieved 100 per cent Indigenous staff in aged care, and then two years ago, we achieved 100 per cent Indigenous staff across council operations, NDIS and the remote schools program, when Alicia King came on board as the Council Services Manager. It’s not only a first for Victoria Daly, but a first across Australian local councils as well.    

What difference does it make having a council staff that is 100 per cent Indigenous?  

Everyone knows each other and everyone is related, which means there is a great level of understanding and care amongst the staff. It also means there is community harmony. For example, when we have a funeral in the community or Sorry Business, everyone knows that that takes precedence.  

I also think that because we all understand one another and get what is a priority for our community, when a problem does come about, we are often able to sort it out without bringing in outside help, which means the entire council can run more effectively.  

When it comes to NDIS and aged care, why is it important that those services are delivered by Aboriginal people? 

You’ve got to take community pride into consideration. Family and looking after those who are not doing as well as others is important. So, who better to look after our elderly and disabled, than our own family? You know, if it’s your family member, that care factor is a little bit more.  

And as the Mayor of VDRC, are you hoping that we will see high levels of Aboriginal employment in other communities?  

Well, in Kalkarindji 86 per cent of our staff are Aboriginal, and in Nauiyu, around 70 per cent of our staff are Aboriginal which is something to be very proud of.  

I think it would be a challenge for some communities because of the geographical locations of say, Pine Creek and Timber Creek. But I think it’s incredibly important to see that strong representation of Aboriginal people in council and running services in communities. It’s not out of our depth to have 50 per cent or 80 per cent Aboriginal people running services in every community.  

If you’re interested in finding out more about Victoria Daly’s focus on Indigenous led services, check out our 2022-2023 Draft Regional Plan, open for public consultation until 23 June, 2022.