Minyerri is a small community located 580km southeast of Darwin in the Roper region of the Northern Territory, situated on the traditional lands of the Alawa people. The land is rich with plants and animals and the people are full of knowledge, language and culture. Minyerri lies close to the Hodgson River and is surrounded by sandstone hills and billabongs.
Since 2015, ELP has been working with the community of Minyerri to establish Minyerri Arts and Cultural Centre, a hub from which enterprise ideas can be explored and developed. It is a space for people to learn, revive and teach skills such as basket weaving, screen printing and painting, as well as projects that celebrate the Alawa language and culture. In 2016, ELP worked closely with 22 community members on their enterprise aspirations, while supporting the Arts Centre space to become a thriving hub for enterprise development.
Over this time, ELP has also supported the community to launch ‘Gulbarn Tea’ – a herbal tea made from hand-picked traditional bush medicine plants
“WELL I THINK THAT ART CENTRE, IT’S GOOD. IT’S BUILT UP FROM BEING VERY SMALL, JUST A BUILDING, AND IT’S REALLY MOVED FORWARD. EVERY TIME I WALK PAST I FEEL HAPPY ALL THE TIME. PEOPLE INTERESTED, GOING IN AND USING IT AND ENJOYING. SO PROUD THAT WE HAVE AN ART CENTRE IN COMMUNITY AND PEOPLE ARE LEARNING.” – NAOMI WILFRED, ELDER
The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in Minyerri, and people are excited by the possibilities that microenterprise can hold for their futures. The community is currently exploring a number of ideas that present rich learning and development opportunities around small business development, and also provide a way for people to preserve traditional knowledge and keep culture strong.
Dreams for a workshop enterprise, which encompasses both traditional artefact making and modern building techniques, is one shared across different groups in Minyerri: from men who wish to preserve and pass on their traditional skills; Elders who understand the incredible importance of harvesting raw materials on Country; and from women who recognise that meaningful, productive engagement is essential to the wellbeing of their sons….
With the support of ELP, Minyerri Arts and Cultural Centre began its enterprise journey by developing a range of screen-printed textiles, sold at local retailers and markets. Alawa culture is abundant with dreaming stories and contemporary tales that artists are eager to capture through design. This project will enable artists to refine their design and technical printing skills, providing a stepping point for entrepreneurs who wish to explore broader market opportunities…
Since ELP’s first engagement with the community of Minyerri, bush medicines have remained a strong and inspired enterprise theme. To date, the entrepreneurs have been testing the market with a range of bush medicine soaps that continue to sell out, generating conversations in which Elders share their knowledge about the vast, versatile range of medicines that grow in Alawa country. The next step is to explore other products such as salves, creams and toothpastes and share these ancient bush remedies with wider Australia and the world…