Nuwal Environmental Services – Enterprising people & business, RIG News, Dec. 2013 – Feature
Feature – Enterprising people and business
Current changes in community programs, training and funding arrangements, across all levels of government, are creating concern and uncertainty in many communities in remote and regional Australia. The recent announcement that Rio Tinto will close its bauxite refinery at Gove promises to adversely affect the people of Nhulunbuy and East Arnhem, to whom it is either home or a very important centre for work, shopping and many services.
Developments such as this highlight the important contribution that local businesses – and the people who drive them – make to their communities to build capacity and wherewithal for resilience.
This feature shares news from two people who are making a difference where they live. I visited Yirrkala recently and had the opportunity to catch up with Gareth and see Nuwal’s nursery in action – a busy workplace throughout the week and a popular cool spot on Saturday’s with many visitors dropping in to buy plants and catch up on local news. Karen shares news from her business at Charleville that provides products and knowledge that can really help people who want to grow nutritious food in areas with very old, depleted soils – a challenge many RIG News readers will be familiar with.
Nuwul Environmental Services – Yirrkala
Story kindly provided by Gareth Wise, for RIG News, December 2013
Nuwul Environmental Services is a Yolngu not-for-profit entity operating in Yirrkala and throughout much of East Arnhem. The Yirrkala Community Nursery forms the hub of the business, providing plants for sale to the general public, for bush remediation, community gardening and other projects.
Nuwul is the product of three years of development by traditional owner Banduk Marika and myself. After the closure of Landcare several years ago Banduk wanted to see the establishment of a new organisation to fill the void. She invited me to come to Yirrkala for two months to help train staff. Now, four and a half years on, I have carried on as manager helping to grow the business and the range of activities that we undertake. In the initial stages the business was funded out of my own pocket to get things going but now we are well positioned to build a solid financial base. We have been ably supported by Gilbert & Tobin Lawyers who have been fantastic with their assistance in getting Nuwul registered and with the technicalities of our planning.
We have adopted a grass roots approach to build up our business with its own solid financial base and success to date suggests a promising future. Nuwal Environmental Services is now operated as a not for profit, community-owned indigenous environmental organisation and hopes to gradually take on more Yolngu staff on proper wages and with certified training.
The Yirrkala Community Nursery is a key hub from which to grow and support our other environmental service and community development activities. Staff are employed to carry out landscaping and ground maintenance activities in and around the community and this supports wages and other environmental works we are undertaking. Remote Jobs and Communities Program (RJCP) participants and individuals on community work orders also participate strongly in our nursery and other activities.
I have recently been carrying out successful programs at Yirrkala School with both curriculum-based gardening and special needs projects, as well as delivering Cert II level Conservation and Land Management to older students. Nuwul has also managed to attain many ongoing contracts with East Arnhem Shire, schools and private entities to provide landscaping, environmental services and ground maintenance, and these contracts provide a secure foundation for the future.
Some may remember the nursery featuring on the SBS production “Costa’s Arnhem Land Odyssey” where I worked with close friend Costa Georgiadis and some of our Yolngu staff to create a food garden for the Yirrkala School. This garden has continued to grow and this year Yirrkala School participated in the EduGrow School Garden Awards and hosted the EduGrow Awards Ceremony.