Having your say for your community — Yamatji On-Country 2023
The 2023 annual Yamatji On-Country meeting took place on Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 September at the Bundiyarra Aboriginal Community Aboriginal Corporation in Geraldton.
This significant two-day event is an important time for Aboriginal people from the Mid West, Gascoyne and Murchison to come together and have a say on issues important to them and collectively engage on community-led solutions for presentation to government, while also enjoying time together with bushtucker and entertainment.
Guest speakers for 2023 included WA Commissioner for Children and Young People Ms Jacqueline McGowan-Jones, Mr Thomas Mayo from the Federal Government Voice Referendum Working Group, Parliamentary Secretary Yaz Mubarakai MLA, Greens Senator Dorinda Cox and Local Member for Geraldton Lara Dalton MLA.
In addition to community discussion, the event featured engaging Youth Presentations from students from several attending high schools, as well as presentations and Q&A on the Yamatji on Country Call to Action from 2022, and changes to cultural heritage protection laws in Western Australia.
Information stalls from government and community including Headspace, Family Legal Service, Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Services (GRAMS), Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, Streeties, and Wajarri Yamaji Aboriginal Corporation, IDCare, were also in attendance.
9.30am – 4pm: First Nations Peoples Day. Closed event.
5.30pm – 8.30pm: Evening Entertainment and Meal. Bushtucker and entertainment featuring First Nations’ performers from the Yamatji region.
8.00am: Community Breakfast - all welcome
9.00am – 1.45pm: Government Decision-makers join the conversation. Program includes student performances, student and community member presentations, response from invited guests, panel and community discussion.
Lunch is provided on both days.
Yamatji On-Country 2022
Youth involvement: a first
In a first for Yamatji On-Country, students from Nagle Catholic College, Champion Bay Senior High School and Geraldton Senior High School workshopped their main areas of concern with teachers and YMAC representatives before speaking at the event. They came up with 12 main issues and concerns before narrowing it down to the top five they felt most important: racism, alcohol and drugs, lack of culture, online bullying, and home environment.
Community representatives were selected from First Nations people attending the event – Geraldton youth then joined with Elders as they worked together on six key messages they wanted to present to government as calls to action (including many of the concerns the students had put forward):
A Call to Action
The Call to Action statement was presented at the event to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti, Geraldton Lara Dalton MLA (representing Community Services Minister Simone McGurk) and directors and senior staff from the Departments of Communities, Education and Planning, Lands and Heritage; WA Police and National Indigenous Australians Agency. These representatives also joined the bush tucker barbecue on the evening of day one and shared lunch with students on day two. Entertainment at the barbecue came from Latia Robertson, Zain Laudehr-May, Trevor Farrell, Craig Pickett and Carrum Mourambine.
Read the media release, issued following the event.
Watch a condensed version of Yamatji On-Country 2022 highlights:
Watch an extended version of Yamatji On-Country 2022 highlights:
Yamatji On-Country also included stalls from Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (GRAMS), Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries – Aboriginal Cultural Centre Community Engagement Planning (First Nations Staff), Wajarri Yamatji Aboriginal Corporation – SKA Employment Expo, First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance, Headspace and Helping Minds.