Baskets full of hope for Arnhem Land community 


A Charles Darwin University lecturer's efforts are helping to expand a highly successful cultural program run by the Mapuru community of East Arnhem Land.

Weaving workshops have provided jobs, empowerment and income to the tight-knit community.

Now in its fifth year, the model program receives wide support and now will be expanded to include most members of the 140-strong community.

Yolngu women invite tourists to experience their culture as one of their own.

Guests learn the craft of basket weaving, stay in traditional raised wooden platforms and participate informally in community activities.

It's part of an authentic travel experience initiated by CDU's John Greatorex, coordinator Graduate Certificate, Language and Culture, Yolngu Studies.

John largely volunteered his time to start the program which is now assisted by the Department of Employment Education and Training, Tourism NT and the Indigenous Tourism Business Hub at Yirrkala.

He said the program highlighted the core importance of homelands as central to community identity.

'The Mapuru people attempt to show and promote the idea that their homelands are the one place their people can have a sustainable future,' he said. 'And it allows them to use the skills passed down from their ancestors to continue living with dignity.'

Weaver Roslyn Malngumba said the program was part of a vision of a self-sustaining, healthy and economically viable community.

'Our dream of making futures for our children is coming true and this is the support we have been working towards,' she said.

The facilitator of the Tourism NT's Stepping Stones for Tourism Program, Nicholas Hall, said the program fulfilled a demand in the Territory.

'There may not be a white towel on your bed, but this is as good as it gets if you want a complete Aboriginal cultural experience,’ he said.

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