This story has been shared by Nerrale Arnold, the CEO of Alawa Aboriginal Corporation located at the community of Minyerri, NT.
The Alawa Aboriginal Corporation’s story begins around the time when (the former) Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) purchased Hodgson Downs station for the traditional owners, the Alawa people in 1990. Prior to 1990 many Alawa people lived and worked as stockmen & cooks on surrounding cattle stations and Roper River Mission now known as Ngukurr Community.
Many residents returned to Minyerri after their own cattle station was developed, now known as Warrigundu, and was handed back to traditional owners. Minyerri is the settlement where many of the Alawa people choose to live today. Minyerri now has a population of 600 people, this number fluctuates between the wet & dry season.
The Alawa Aboriginal Corporation (AAC) was first established in 1999, its primary purpose was to establish and operate commercial enterprises on behalf and for the benefit of the Alawa people. To this day, the Alawa Aboriginal Corporation undertakes many business operations for the purpose of providing social, cultural and economic benefit to the Alawa people and the broader community. Alawa Aboriginal Corporation has been successful in delivering many services to the community including, Aged Care & Disability, child care related services, School Nutrition program , Centrelink, Night Patrol and Community Development and other project activities under the Federal Government such as Men’s & Women’s , Sports & Recreation and Caring for country projects . Alawa Aboriginal corporations have work contracts with the NT Government in Tenancy Management & Remote Housing Maintenance, and Airstrip Maintenance.
Alawa people have had a history characterised by land dispossession and social issues impacting on their lives, today there are many significant steps towards reconciliation that have been taken; however, it is an ongoing journey that reminds us that generations of Australians have fought hard for meaningful change.
Hillsong Church Palmerston have supported the Minyerri community for the past two years in provision of Christmas boxed hampers, donations of clothes for the community OP shop and prayer. The people of Minyerri are very appreciative of the work Hillsong is doing across Australia and globally, we believe that the same cause that inspires you also inspires Minyerri people , particularly when it comes to making real impacts on people’s lives.
The Christmas Hampers are provided to families throughout the week prior to the Christmas shutdown. When all the fly-in workers leave the community to go home to celebrate and share Christmas with their loved ones whether it’s back in Darwin or other places of the Territory, interstate or overseas for Minyerri Families the Christmas Event is their Christmas day. The families look forward to the Christmas hampers, the small gifts and the social gathering and cook up that the Corporation organises. The food hampers are items that can be put away leading up to Christmas. It truly supports families of Minyerri making it extra special for families.
The Alawa people would like to say thank you Hillsong for your continuing support to the Minyerri community and other Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia. Your support strengthens relationships and truly demonstrates steps towards reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
Keep doing what you are doing, your care and generosity is changing the lives of people.
May God Bless You.
If you’re a part of Hillsong Church we’d love you to think through how you are acting towards reconciliation in Australia with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people! The Bible tells us that “God is reconciling the world to Himself” 2 Corinthians 5:19 and is asking us to partner in the ministry of reconciliation too. You can find out about local Reconciliation Week events in your area here: nrw.reconciliation.org.au/calendar