The Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council is based in Alice Springs but its work stretches across the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia – a vast area of 350,000 kilometres with Uluru in its centre.
Founded in 1980, the council’s programs include child nutrition, family violence and the sustenance of art and culture. Its core purpose is keeping women safe and Aboriginal culture strong.
IAG sees an alignment with NPY’s purpose and committed to becoming a corporate sponsor in 2014.
In fact, NPY’s purpose also resonated so strongly with our employees, they decided to contribute even further with a unique fundraising effort to support the organisation’s annual law and culture meeting which had to be cancelled due to funding constraints.
That’s when an IAG employee on secondment in Alice Springs had the idea of walking the Larapinta Trail to raise funds for the critical meeting.
The idea paid off. In May 2014, IAG employees from Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide gathered to walk 223 kilometres in 11 days. The goal was $50,000 but IAG was able to present council elders – waiting at Alice Springs Telegraph Station for the weary walkers to arrive – with more than $100,000 instead.
The Larapinta Trail is now an annual fundraising event and an integral part of IAG’s broader sponsorship of the council.
In November 2015, CEO Andrea Mason spoke to IAG employees about the partnership, describing IAG’s support as “critical”.
“We can have a much more purposeful vision, both in our governance responsibility and in ensuring we continue to have meetings for women to maintain law and culture,” Mason said. Crucially, she said, IAG was listening to local Aboriginal leaders and being directed by what they knew would help their communities to flourish.
Customer Care Manager from Adelaide, Tracey Newman, did the Larapinta Walk in 2014. She describes the trek along the West MacDonnell Ranges in the Central Australian desert as “dry, rocky and absolutely stunning”.
“I expected it to be physically challenging but I didn’t expect it to be so spiritually rewarding,” said Tracey. “We had visitors from women’s council talking each night and we learnt about the land, the people and the work the council does.”
Though its work is far-reaching and complex, Andrea describes it in simple, enlightening terms. “We are a grassroots, Aboriginal-controlled organisation where all ideas and strategic direction are generated by our membership: the women of the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara nations.
“If people went into the region 200 years ago, they would meet the great-great-grandparents of our members because these people have lived in and maintained that country, culture, identity for 50,000 years plus.”