Historic meeting of Aboriginal leaders in the Pilbara

1 June 2021
Royal Life Saving WA recently had the pleasure and privilege of partnering with Pilbara Aboriginal Voice (PAV) to sponsor a visit by the Danjoo Koorliny leadership team to the West Pilbara region.

PAV is comprised of recognised community leaders who were nominated by the Pilbara Aboriginal community and includes many Pilbara Elders. PAV’s aim is to provide a strong community voice to influence policy reforms and work with all levels of government on issues affecting Pilbara Aboriginal people.

The Danjoo Koorliny Walking Together project is a “long-term, large-scale, Aboriginal-led systems change project”, hosted by the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Social Impact. Danjoo Koorliny roughly translates from Noongar as ‘going together to the future’ or simply ‘walking together’.

The founding leaders of the project are Dr Noel Nannup OAM, Dr Richard Walley OAM, Professor Emeritus Colleen Hayward AM and Carol Innes. They were joined in their tour of the West Pilbara by members of the wider Danjoo Koorliny team of Elders and Noongar leaders including Jason Barrow, Oral Maguire and Barry Maguire.

The four-day visit started with a tour of significant Aboriginal cultural sites including Murujuga and Millstream, culminating in two workshops in Roebourne and Hedland which were attended by community stakeholders and Pilbara Aboriginal Elders.

Royal Life Saving WA’s Senior Manager Community Development, Tim Turner, was honoured to participate in the historic event. “The agenda for the workshops was built upon a desire for a different future as we approach 2029, which has been defined as the 200th anniversary of colonisation in Western Australia,” he said.

PAV Co-Chairs Linda Doogiebee, Danny Brown and Cissy Remirez sat alongside the Danjoo Koorliny team and discussed the importance of respect and patience as we explore how we can work toward shared outcomes for a better future for Aboriginal people and community.

“This important meeting created a historic precedent of bringing Aboriginal leaders from Noongar country with Aboriginal leaders from the Pilbara and North West,” Tim said. “It is really significant in that we had some of the most eminent Noongar Aboriginal academic leaders and business leaders meet with Pilbara Aboriginal leaders and Elders for the first time in the Pilbara.”

Royal Life Saving WA has partnered with PAV to advocate and support a regional employment strategy that creates first time job opportunities for Aboriginal youth. The initiative is being supported by Principal Community Partner BHP. “The role of Royal Life Saving WA is to sit with the conversation and partner from behind, being led by desired Aboriginal aspirations, actions, and achievements,” said Tim. 

“Through a shared commitment we hope to further progress and advocate for future investment to support a model of service delivery led by Aboriginal business and corporations in creating these opportunities. Royal Life Saving WA can provide technical and administrative support as we walk towards a different future in 2029.”