Ngulla Mia

“Our Place”

Overview

The Ngulla Mia (Our Place) Project aims to create an environment at the MAC premises located at 4 Woods Street, Esperance WA 6450, that will incorporate native and bush tucker plants, a sensory garden with areas for sharing traditional foods and meals and yarning spaces. The indoor areas will provide spaces for workshops to be held that incorporate traditional cultural practices including sharing dreamtime stories, aboriginal history and culture, art, music and dance. A mural will be developed and included in the outdoor area that captures the culture of the Nyungar people including animals and plants.

The Ngulla Mia Project will involve ongoing development and creation of our premises as a place for Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people to come together to celebrate culture, share experiences and to gain a greater understanding of the local Nyungar history, stories and language. The need for this project has been identified through discussions with our Directors and Members who are local and regional Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal Community Members. The project also aligns with National Closing the Gap new ways of working which includes local action in order to make a difference and achieve positive changes in outcomes for Aboriginal People.

The Ngulla Mia Project includes providing opportunities for Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people to engage and participate in a range of activities that will provide them with social connection, increased skills and knowledge, training and education and a sense of ownership over the project activities and outcomes. The Project will be actively driven by Aboriginal People and will assist them with developing leadership skills and increased confidence in their abilities as well as a sense of pride in their achievements.

The Ngulla Mia Project recognises that community involvement in change is a fundamental part of growth and effective change must come from within individuals and groups within the community. Community involvement and growth starts by first changing ourselves, our attitudes, language, and the way we view the world around us. Communities are most successful when true partnerships exist, and power or control is delegated and vested effectively within the community. The project will help to increase knowledge about the Aboriginal community and will encourage people to co-create additional knowledge and understanding and to use that knowledge to create future opportunities to engage effectively with each other. The Project will ensure that these opportunities and effective communications become regular and on-going as the project continues to develop over time.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander commitment to the project is achieved through consultation and collaboration with Aboriginal People as project leaders to ensure that the project is culturally respectful and provides cultural safety and security. The project will be inclusive and accessible to both Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people with a holistic and strengths-based approach applied to developing partnerships and relationships between project leaders and participants. The project aims to improve outcomes for Aboriginal People through capacity building and community engagement and developing long term sustainable relationships based on trust and recognising and respecting Aboriginal cultural knowledge, history, lived experience, and connection to community and country.

The Ngulla Mia Project aims:

  • to develop practices and services that are culturally responsive and effectively meet the needs of Aboriginal people;
  • to develop partnerships that support Aboriginal people to develop skills and knowledge and to increase their opportunities for gaining formal education and / or paid employment;
  • to recognise the strength and value of Aboriginal world views, values, and traditions and to celebrate their culture.

The Ngulla Mia Project is driven by an Aboriginal Project Manager who is employed by Mudjar Aboriginal Corporation. Volunteer participants are also be engaged both by self-referral to participate and by agency referral for those connected to support services and employment or government agencies. The project is also be open for visitors from the local community, the region and from Western Australia (*Note: pending the ever changing situation with Covid-19, the project in the future may also be open to National and International Visitors).

The project aims to bring about positive changes in the community through providing a culturally safe and secure environment for Aboriginal People to access and engage in meaningful activities and to develop a greater sense of understanding between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people by providing opportunities to participate in project activities and events. The project aims to act as a ‘conduit’ by identifying any issues with participants for which assistance with connection and referrals can be made to supporting agencies to help overcome issues. The project also aims to foster partnerships with employment agencies to increase opportunities for Aboriginal people to gain employment by supporting the development of practical skills and knowledge.

Our Ngulla Mia Project overall aims to support our development as an Aboriginal Corporation with a Community Purpose. Our goal is to develop our Corporation and our premises as an Aboriginal Cultural Education Centre that provides opportunities that benefit Aboriginal people across a wide spectrum including socially, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically and economically. We also want to improve relationships between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people through inclusivity in our project activities and by ensuring that we educate all people in regards to Aboriginal Culture and their view of the world. Our project will develop over time to provide an experience for participants and visitors that raises awareness and increases knowledge about local and overall Aboriginal Culture through our shop and gallery, workshops, signage, brochures, booklets located at our premises and provided as part of the project experience.

Events will also be held at the premises that celebrate Aboriginality at specific times of the year such as National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week, as well as ad hoc events that are locally more significant or to recognise and celebrate project milestones and achievements. These events will include Welcome / Acknowledgement to Country, Music, Story Telling, Art, Cooking and other activities that acknowledge and showcase Aboriginal history and achievements.

Mudjar Aboriginal Corporation feature in Esperance Tide, May 2021

Ngaanyatjarra Lands Students visit to Mudjar Aboriginal Corporation, May 2021

On the 12th May 2021, Ngaanyatjarra Students visited Mudjar Aboriginal Corporation (MAC) and took part in Ngulla Mia (Our Place) activities including art and craft, woodworking and furniture making. The students had planned to visit Perth for their annual school camp, however, due to covid concerns, they had to cancel that trip and they contacted us here at MAC to see if we could help them with other plans.

The students were accompanied by Daisy Tuparntarri Ward who is a respected elder of the Warakurna community, and whose striking portrait was painted by David Darcy and won the 2019 Archibald Prize People’s Choice Award. Daisy Tjuparntarri Ward is a leader in her community in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands, her role transcending many realms as a cross-cultural educator, artist, advocate against domestic violence and passionate spokeswoman for her people.

On meeting NSW artist David Darcy, the two became friends, leading to him capturing her on canvas. “Over several weeks, we got to know each other. I discovered I’d met an extraordinary woman,” he said. “Super-Tjupa, as she is referred to by friends, has a remarkable connection to country and traditional culture, yet this “born-in-the-bush, modern woman” possesses a wonderful ability to navigate Western society with intellect, charm and good humour.”

In the painting, Mrs Ward is depicted in red oxide, often used instead of ochre, with her chest painted with a design from traditional women’s songs. “I am a cultural woman,” she said. “It means so much — my face, my eyes — and that line across, that makes me strong.” Mrs Ward decided to be part of the prestigious prize after visiting Tamworth Regional Gallery last year, where finalists and winners were exhibited. “Coming out of the door I said ‘I’ve got an idea’,” she said. “My pain, my people. I need to do something.”

The great-grandmother hoped the portrait would help governments recognise issues faced by indigenous Australians, and lead to more education, honesty and respect: “People are still out in isolated communities and we still have our sacred culture passed down generations and generations.” “I’m trying really hard to try and help the Government understand the pain we go through in remote communities,” she said. “We’re struggling – it’s a long journey and there’s still problems.”

Darcy said he hoped the artwork would give Mrs Ward more of a platform for the advocacy she does. He focused on her eyes, as “windows to the soul”. On seeing the portrait, which is more than 2m tall, Mrs Ward felt like dancing. “I was just so happy. Finally my voice will be heard through art,” she said. “I am really proud of myself for what I did for my people.”

Ngaanyatjarra Lands Students working on their painting.

David Darcy’s Portrait of Daisy Ward

Archibald Prize People’s Choice Award Winner 2019

Daisy Ward with local Aboriginal artist Atheleen Thomas.

Daisy Ward with Mudjar Aboriginal Corporation Director Jennifer Woods.

Ngaanyatjarra Lands Students working on woodworking projects.

Local Aboriginal Artist Atheleen Woods creating some artworks.