Since 2020, the building and centring of Aboriginal community capabilities and control in Yuwaya Ngarrali’s work has been a key enabler of all other areas as well as an area of significant achievement in itself. Important DEG-led efforts have resulted in 32 outcomes relating to ACCO capability and control, with a further 51 outcomes associated with community-led emergency response and community troubleshooting. Walgett Elders and community voices have been prominent in national media stories on topics as varied the government’s response to COVID, food and water security, floodplain harvesting and homelessness. DEG and YN’s agenda setting on food and water security in particular has led to Ministerial level visits to Walgett and commitments to long-term solutions to safe drinking water that is having systemic impact. Within our team we have embedded important learning about how to recruit, develop and retain Aboriginal staff members that provide a model that could be embedded elsewhere. And we are developing a new ACCO capability unit that could provide an innovative model enabling ACCOs to flourish and lead change in communities across NSW nationally that could enable significant progress in Closing the Gap targets and self-determination.

Walgett pool
The Walgett pool - popular way to keep cool

DEG was shocked to learn from the ABC in early July that the Walgett Shire Council had resolved to "decommission the Walgett pool". We swung into action along with WAMS, the Walgett swimming club and the town's swimming community.

DEG carefully prepared a letter to the Walgett Shire Council, and contributed to ABC media stories. We found it hard to believe that the Council could so easily vote to close down the Walgett pool without any consultation. Our letter was tabled at a special meeting of the Walgett Shire Council, along with very good letters from Walgett AMS, the schools and others. At that meeting the Council rescinded its motion to close the pool and resolved to find resources to repair it. Behind the scenes we have been speaking to Public Works Advisory, the long-term pool managers, the Walgett Mayor and Councillor Col Hardy, Senator Tim Ayers and NSW Minister for Regional NSW Tara Moriarty. We were heartened to learn in late September that the NSW Premier Chris Minns has committed funds to repair the pool, and that NSW Public Works Advisory has found a contractor able to undertake the work with urgency. Walgett Shire Council is dragging the chain as at 29 September 2023 they have not awarded a tender for the management of the pool. DEG urges Walgett Shire Council to overcome their recent staff churn and see this as an opportunity to employ new engineers who will act responsibly to support the Walgett pool and its ongoing management.