Yalu is an Aboriginal Corporation delivering programs, research and community education to strengthen health and well-being from a foundation of cultural integrity.


Our organisation was established in 2002 and we began working with our community, Universities and research organisations to facilitate research programs focused on the Yol\u way of life and from that, have now grown into a nurturing centre providing employment and services across Galiwinku.

We are grounded in our commitment to facilitate two-way learning of Yol\u Rom (Law) and western ideology with mutual understanding and respect. 


At Yalu we offer a range of programs and services for our whole community including youth, families and our elders. All of our programs have been created out of community identified needs and are underpinned with Yol\u values and law.

Drawing on the Yol\u philosophy of interconnectedness, our programs aim to create a holistic and connected approach. Our unique approach has resulted in Yalu being central to the community development of Galiwin’ku.

Yalu also works with research partners on community research which informs the provision of both our  service and services within the community. This allows evidence based responses to community needs and enables our programs and other community services to constantly evolve to suit changing community circumstances.

History: Exploring the Connections (1998 - 1999)

Nhaliy mal\'thun Yalu'

In 1998, a participatory action research project “Exploring the connections between Health and Education” was funded by the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal and Tropical Health. Project sites were located at Galiwin’ku and an urban site in the Northern Territory

From left to right: Sylvia Buludja, Diane Biritjaluwuy, Megan Gelung, Elaine Lawurrpa Maypilama, and Anne Lowell

In Galiwin’ku the research team was Elaine Lawurrpa Maypilama, Dianne Birritjalawuy, Megan Gelu\, Sylvia Buludja\a and Anne Lowell.

The research identified the need for:

  • an organisation that specifically addressed the overlaps between health and education
  • Yol\u to first re-establish their own Yol\u health and education systems as a way of improving health and education for all Yol\u in Galiwin’ku and closely connected communities.

Pilot Project (April - September 2000) 

The development of the pilot project Yalu’ Mar\githinyaraw, was a direct outcome of the participatory action research project “Exploring the Connections”.

Yalu’ Mar\githinyaraw, would be run for and by Yol\u people using traditional Yol\u clan structures of governance and management.

April 2000, this community driven proposal was funded as a trial project for 6 months after a visit to Galiwin’ku by the Directors and Business Manager of the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal and Tropical Health
Initial research team was L^wurrpa Maypilama, Dianne Biritjalawuy, Dorothy Bepuka, and Dorothy Yu\girri\a
Three mini projects; guku (wild honey), [in\u (cycad damper) and nyoka’ (mud crab)
Working with old grey haired people, using an action research model, researchers collected information about hunting practices, stories, dances, paintings and songs
These were then used as a way to explain to Yol\u about health and education both ways, Balanda and Yol\u

Year 1 (May 2000 - June 2001) 


During the first year, the Yalu’ Mar\githinyaraw project focussed on working with families and community to promote healthy lifestyles using Yol\u practices as the right pathway to walk for physical, spiritual and emotional health.

Community Links: To actively promote a healthy lifestyle using Yol\u practices and stories the Yalu’ Mar\githinyaraw project worked with other community organisations and agencies including:

  • Women’s Centre

  • Strong Women, Strong Babies, Strong Culture

  • Community Development Employment Program (CDEP)

  • Shepherdson College (the local school),

  • Galiwin’ku Council

  • the community Police Aid, and

  • the |alka]buy Health Centre

  • Aged Care (Meals on Wheels)

  • Homelands movement

  • Batchelor Institute for Indigenous Tertiary Education

  • Sport and Recreation (School Holiday Program)

  • Health Curriculum: Yalu’ Mar\githinyaraw workers were invited to develop a curriculum for Yolŋu children regularly attended weekly classes teaching about health and education in a Yolŋu way

  • Healthy Lifestyle Festival: In collaboration with the \alka]buy Health Clinic the Healthy Lifestyle Festival incorporated 2 weeks of activities such as recreational activities and a music festival.

School Holiday programs: During the long holidays (Bush holidays and Christmas) the Yalu’ Mar\githinyaraw group worked collaboratively with the Health Centre to deliver  school holiday programs. These programs focused on traditional activities:

  • For boys: spear making, and hunting

  • For girls: basket weaving,  collection of pandanus leaves, and dyeing techniques

Campfire Nights: Yalu’ Mar\githinyaraw conducted “campfire nights” where community members from all clans and agencies were invited to attend. The focus of the activity was to promote harmony in the workplace and home

External Funding: In July 2001, the project received funding from the  Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services enabling the program to continue until 30 June 2003

Year 2 (July 2001 - June 2002) 


Meeting the Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services funding guidelines in July 2001, the Yalu’ Marŋgithinyaraw project was successful in securing Commonwealth funding for a 2 year period.

Principles established during the first year of working with families and community to promote healthy lifestyles using Yolŋu practices as the right pathway to walk for physical, spiritual and emotional health were continued.


Collaborative service delivery work: The project continued its services delivery work collaboratively with the school, health centre, and women’s groups. Activities included assisting with the breakfast program for school children and collection of bush tucker for the Meals on Wheels Aged Care program.
Good Boys Program: In September 2001, the Yalu project was approached by the Galiwin’ku Council and Community Police Aid to assist with the implementation of a “Good Boys Program” working with 15 young boys who were identified as petrol sniffers.
The Galiwin’ku Council funded the 14 day program which was conducted on the outstation “Click for map Snapshot “Steven Island”.
The project focused on developing self- esteem and life skills
The program included establishing a small family garden, general cleaning duties, religion, telling stories about self, and cultural activities such as turtle hunting, and dancing.
Curriculum development: Stories from “grey hair people” were tape recorded then transcribed and used as part of the Yothu Yindi curriculum for lower primary school students at the local school – Shepherdson College.
Return to emphasis on research: Responding to requests for assistance to commence a healthy lifestyle research project, Yalu’ Marŋgithinyaraw extended its activities to provide collaboration with external research organisations including the Menzies School of Health Research, and Northern Territory University.
Ongoing Planning: a diagrammatic overview of these various projects provides a comprehensive list of activities during this year.
CRCATH 5th Year Review: In May 2002, as part of the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal and Tropical Health 5 year review by its major funder, the CRC program in the Commonwealth Department of Education Science and Training. Yalu’ Marŋgithinyaraw was showcased as a project that demonstrated the capacity for two-way learning and collaboration in research.
Yalu’ Marŋgithinyaraw researchers gave a presentation and presented the CRCATH management team with a painting by Dj^ti Yunupiŋu in appreciation of their support for Yalu’ Marŋgithinyaraw.

From left to right: Director, Prof. Tony Barnes; Project Officer Ms Maria Scarlett; Mr Djati (Steve) Yunupingu; Mrs Lawurrpa Maypilama. Deputy Director Ms Sally Matthews, and Deputy Director Ms Terry Dunbar.

Year 3 (June 2002 - June 2003) 


Yalu’ Mar\githinyaraw continued their work with the Yothu Yindi curriculum, school holiday programs, assisting outside organisations with research and conducting their own research and planning activities. In addition to these activities a number of new programs were developed.

Dedicated Yalu site: In recognition of their expanding role in the community, Galiwin’ku community council allocated a free standing building as the Yalu’ Mar\githinyaraw office. Yalu’ Mar\githinyaraw workers decorated the interior of the building reflecting their focus on healthy lifestyle.
Power-point Presentation Itinerants program: Yalu’ Mar\githinyaraw has been concerned for some time with the problem of relatives who are living a homeless lifestyle in Darwin (long grassers). In 2003, Yalu’ Mar\githinyaraw formed a partnership with the Larrakia Nation (traditional owners for the Darwin area) and have been working with them to develop strategies to enable family members in Darwin to return home. This work has included working with the Community Patrol run by Mission Australia.
Family Gardens Project: In 2003, the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing commenced funding the community-based Family Gardens Project. It aims to work with families to make flowers blossom and foods grow; train a team of young people in gardening and horticulture; and encourage people to take pride in their own backyard and community. Yalu’ Mar\githinyaraw instigated the proposal, and the Yalu Clan Management Committee oversee the project in collaboration with CDEP Landscaping Project and CDEP Market Gardens Project.
Core funding: The Yalu’ Mar\githinyaraw project has been successful in securing a further 12 months funding, until June 2004, from the Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services.
HIV/AIDS video: This was a collaboration with the |alka]buy Health Clinic, Aboriginal Resource and Development Services (ARDS), Marthakal Resource Centre, and Department of Health and Community Services.