One of the highlights of our year so far has been a visit to the Western Desert in Australia’s Pilbara region for a cultural exchange with the local Martu with 8 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth - program we run in partnership with World Vision’s Young Mob youth leadership program.
The 8 day exchange saw the young cohort travel more than 1000km into the heart of Martu country, visiting local cultural sites and remote communities. Along the way they met with Elders, shared stories and learnt how to care for the land, plants and animals.
The Martu were among the last of Australia’s Indigenous people to make contact with European Australians, with many migrating from their desert lands into neighboring pastoral stations and missions in the 1950's and 1960's. Sometimes this migration followed the Canning Stock Route north to the eastern Kimberley or south to Wiluna and then east to Warakuna and Warburton.
The exchange is designed to help young people develop their cultural learning in a new and often challenging environment, away from home and in a very remote part of Australia. The idea for the exchange followed a visit by members of the Martu Leadership Program to a Young Mob camp on the NSW south coast last year. There, the Martu visitors shared stories about their country, their journey and goals for themselves and communities.
The Martu are the traditional owners of a large part of central Western Australia which extends from the Great Sandy Desert in the north to around Wiluna in the south. Across this country, Martu share a common law, culture and language.