The Arafura Swamp Healthy Country Plan was prepared for Arafura Swamp Rangers Aboriginal Corporation (ASRAC) by Yolngu and Bi clans and families, the traditional owners and djungkayi of the land and sea that is connected to Gurruwiling (the Arafura Swamp).

Key Findings:

  • Every place has meaning because all the land came from the Wongarr, or ancestral beings, who created it. When the wrong people go into sacred and cultural places they might get sick or the landowners and djungkayi might get sick. When respective custodians see their cultural places damaged it is like their body has been wounded.
  • Stories, languages, ceremonies and law direct Yolngu and Bi clans in how to carry out their responsibilities, their stories give them meaning and are how they transfer knowledge and wisdom.
  • Before, there were available health services, bush schools, shopping services, road maintenance in these homelands. But that support has gone down, which is making life more difficult.
  • As land managers they are interested in science and the maths and English that go with it. But the education system has ignored the fact that they are born to look after country and that education should take that into account.
  • Yolngu and Bi custodians are currently mixing tools and knowledge from Balanda (white people) with Yolngu and Bi knowledge and tools for land management. All this while keeping the foundation of cultural knowledge in the front of their minds, they can bring in these new tools to help manage country in their own way.
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