The Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation and Marngarr Resource Centre Aboriginal Corporation are working with the Centre for Appropriate Technology to deliver a co-designed project to improve the living environment and long term sustainability across the East Arnhem Homelands. The project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

At the end of June, the “Fix and Make Safe” works to ensure electrical and health hardware was functioning properly was completed. In four months, repairs and maintenance was completed in 164 houses in 32 homelands in the region . Ninety four Yolngu people living in the region worked to deliver the program in their Homelands. The program design was based on the direction from the Mala Leaders representing each Homeland. In a meeting held in January 2014, the methods for project delivery were discussed and the leaders opted for a highly inclusive, localised approach giving everyone a chance to work on their own Homeland. The leader(s) for each homeland nominated their preferred work crew and were happy that they could nominate their own family. White Card Training was provided for 94 Yolngu which was supported by the Miwatj Employement Program (MEP) and delivered by CfAT. This ensured that each worker understood how to work safely on a construction site. The high visibility safety clothing and basic equipment were also provided by MEP.

The employment model resulted in a flexible delivery service model. Having a large pool of workers ensured that there was always a ready crew of workers available even if some people has to attend other commitments such as family business ot ceremony or unable to work due to illness etc.

One of the cornerstones of the project has been the emphasis on Yolngu involvement. Community engagement, conducted with a Yolngu Community Engagement Officer has ensured that key tenants in each homeland understood the purpose and objectives of the project and provided permission for the work crews to enter their house to conduct the “Fix and Make Safe” works.

Fix and Make Safe included:

An electrician who checked that each house was electrically safe and repaired or replaced cabling/fittings before any further works were conductedA Yolngu survey crew who completed a survey on the condition and functionality of the house. From this, a scope of works and material list was developed.The survey information was then uploaded into a database by Yolngu women. This information will provide a reference point for future repairs and maintenance requirements.A builder who worked with the local work crew to fix each house. The scope included: replacing or repairing broken doors, lock sets, louvres, louvre galleries, security screens and screen mesh, repairing plumbing leaks/blockages, installing smoke detectors and replacing pit toilet pans, seats and toilet roll holders.

A short survey was conducted at the end of the fix and make safe works to understand whether the people living in the homelands were satisfied with the program and the way it was rolled out. Some of the responses from this survey:

“We used to have a Yolngu builder’s team before. This is the right way to build self-reliance and for the future of the homelands. Following the vision of the old people.” Waturr (Gangan)