Notre Dame partners with East Kimberley stakeholders to promote education and training for indigenous youth

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Winter 20-8-2008

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Broome Campus

Publication Place



The end of July saw the ‘artistic’ result of a partnership between The University of Notre Dame Australia, the Gelganyem Trust, Argyle Diamond Mine and East Kimberley Aboriginal communities.

A photographic exhibition was launched at the Wyndham Recreation Centre showcasing the talent of young photographers from the Wyndham and Oombulgurri communities.

The exhibition is one of the positive outcomes of the Youth and Community Wellbeing Program, an initiative of the partnership which began two years ago. It involves Arts and Sciences students from the University travelling to the remote East Kimberley region to live and learn alongside the local people for two months each year.

Students have the experience of working with community members and leaders on a wide range of projects.

Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Professor Neil Drew believes that the opportunities that the program offers to the students are unique.

“This is a life changing experience that shows students the importance of ‘walking the talk’ for social justice and reconciliation. Living and learning alongside the people of the East Kimberley provides an opportunity for authentic community engagement,” said Professor Drew.

The program was designed, implemented and is funded by the Gelganyem Trust on behalf of the community. The Trust is an initiative of the Mirriuwung and Kija people, the traditional owners of the East Kimberley. They wanted to expand education and training opportunities for their young people using the Trust which is funded by the royalties received through a recently negotiated Indigenous Land Use Agreement with the Argyle Diamond Mine. “Instead of wringing our hands in frustration thinking no one is coming to help us, we thought maybe we should help ourselves,” said Ms Maria Morgan, Chairperson and founder of the program.

“In the long term this program will lead to improved ability to deal with problems such as alcohol, violence and suicide that have affected the community in recent years.

“The project is a commitment by all involved to demonstrate the importance of building enduring, trusting relationships for the future. It also shows the determination of Aboriginal communities to take action on their own behalf to address issues of concern.”

The photographs in the exhibition, ‘Kids from Cliff Country’, tell the story of growing up as a young person in the East Kimberley. Each image is accompanied by a story by the photographer.

Over 60 people, including representatives from Notre Dame, Argyle and the Gelganyem Trust, as well as many family and friends, attended the opening at which the photographers were presented with a Certificate of Participation from the Trust and Notre Dame.

The photos from the exhibition will be published in a book in September this year and available for purchase. All profits will be used to support the program. Please contact Professor Neil Drew on 9433 0103 for more information.

Media contact:

Michelle Ebbs 08 9433 0610, 0408 959 138