The East Pilbara is one of the most isolated and harshest regions of Australia, where hot winds blow off the Great Sandy Desert and temperatures soar above 40 degrees. In the midst of this, sits Newman, a town that was formed in the 60s following the discovery of iron ore deposits, and now boasts a population of 5000, the majority of which are fly-in-fly-out workers. But for 60,000 years prior to the discovery of iron ore in this stark and stunning region, two of the richest and oldest and continuing cultures in the world – the Martu and Nyiyaparli people – sustained an economy in the Pilbara with deep connections between culture, language and country.
For the last three years, we have been incredibly privileged and honoured to work alongside Martu and Nyiyaparli people and the Newman community to co-design a new way of doing business in Newman. The seeds for this were planted in June last year, when Martu and Nyiyaparli came together to develop the Ngaa Ngayunkkarnu Kapukurri – This is Our Dream Declaration. The declaration invites businesses and organisations in Newman to sign a Cultural Compact to adopt culturally responsive practices in their workplace including mutual respect, collaborative decision-making and inclusive opportunities. By signing, businesses and organisations are also acknowledging the rich heritage of the Martu and Nyiyaparli; their laws, culture and traditions.
In the process of supporting and leveraging the Cultural Compact, Creating Communities has had the privilege of building strong relationships with some truly inspiring people, such as singer, songwriter and former chair of Karkla Nyiyaparli Aboriginal Corporation Bradley Hall, a Nyiyaparli man passionate about building a better future for Newman. Bradley explained the importance of the Cultural Compact and what it means for Newman.
“It’s so important that we engage Martu and Nyiyaparli going forward into the future – the social impact that this will have on Newman will bring with it so many opportunities for everyone,” he said.
“In signing the Declaration we are asking businesses to recognise the Nyiyaparli and Martu as traditional owners and custodians of the Country on which Newman stands. We are asking businesses to acknowledge our heritage, cultures and traditions. And in return, we will support them on their journey of cultural awareness, training and new ways of doing business that are inclusive for all.”
Since the launch of the Cultural Compact, the momentum has steadily grown with numerous businesses signing the declaration, leading us to launch the Cultural Compact website this month:
Here, organisations are able to access information about the Cultural Compact and join the growing number of businesses that are committed towards a shared future of mutual respect, cultural awareness and inclusive decision making.
Through our 30 years of work in community development, we know that a community that is culturally aware, that celebrates its diversity, is one that invites economic, health and social growth. This Is Our Dream Cultural Compact is a significant step for Newman as it nudges towards a new era of technology, where an inclusive economy that has strong relationships with First Nations peoples, is essential to enable further growth.