"The Dharriwaa Elders will lead a collaboration with UNSW and other supporters to grow our individual and community strengths and assets. We aim to restore a robust belonging to thriving families, community and country, while making our place in the nation and sharing our learning with other communities". Dharriwaa Elders Group, Walgett.
The purpose of Yuwaya Ngarra-li is for the Dharriwaa Elders Group (DEG) and UNSW to work in partnership to improve the wellbeing, social, built and physical environment and life pathways of Aboriginal people in Walgett through collaborating on evidence-based programs, research projects and capacity building, and to evaluate this model of CommUNIty-Led Development as a way of working with other Aboriginal communities.
Yuwaya Ngarra-li is an initiative that will promote two-way learning between Walgett's Dharriwaa Elders Group and a range of UNSW faculties, with long term academic leadership by Professor Eileen Baldry and keenly supported by Vice-Chancellor Ian Jacobs
Updates were given regarding the work of the Walgett AMS and DEG to advocate for short, medium and long term solutions for Walgett's drinking water quality, their work distributing packaged water, advocating for improved health & emergency response communications, desalination and other public health solutions including drinking water kiosks, river health and improved river management. Professor Greg Leslie explained how a town desalination system would work and his progress on the design of chilled public drinking water kiosks. He also gave a brief explanation of how Walgett's waste water could be recycled and offered to provide project advice and documentation for necessary approvals. Christine Corby also provided an update on the work WAMS is undertaking with Yuwaya Ngarra-li partners from Engineering and Built Environment faculties to revitalise Walgett's Community Garden - an important community assett that has been wiped out from lack of water.
Barwon MP Roy Butler rang in to the meeting from the road to Broken Hill and provided support for our work, saying he is making representations to the NSW Water Minister urging a greater response to the Barwon communities' short, medium and long term water needs, stating that "we need to make the government realize that water is the highest priority issue for our communities". Local agronomist Greg Rummery presented the 10 priorities for Walgett's water security that have been recently identified by community meetings he has been convening.
The meeting agreed unanimously to a statement that was sent by Dharriwaa Elders Group letter to the Walgett Shire Council 24/5/19 which offered support to the Council to enhance Walgett's civic infrastructure by installing and maintaining town desalination and 11 drinking water kiosks to be located in high public use areas around the town, (locations specified).
Discussion in the meeting ranged from the impact on rainfall and river health of excessive landclearing, to the need for community education campaigns regarding water efficiency and the use of the drinking water kiosks. Strategies for beginning long-term climate resilience planning by our community was also discussed.