Australia

Yolngu People

Background info
The people who live in the Miwatj or north-east Arnhem Land region are known generally as Yolngu, which simply means ‘people’. They belong to a number of intermarrying clans that are also closely related culturally and linguistically; the Rirratjingu, who are the focus of the exhibition, Djapu, Marrakulu, Ngaymil, Galpu, Djambarrpuingu, Marrangu, Datiwuy and Djarrrwark of the Dhuwa moiety: and the Gumatj, Dhalwangu, Manggalli, Madarrpa, Munyuku, Warramirri, Wangurri, Gupapuyngu and Ritharrngu of the Yirritja moiety. They live a unique lifestyle with a strong cultural focus, despite ongoing constant pressure to conform to a western lifestyle. Land and country are genetically factored into the DNA of all Yolngu people. The Yolngu have lived in the region for at least 50,000 years.
Indigenous peoples make up 2.5% of Australia’s population and there are fears over welfare of the community (changing policies and strategies). There is a need for stronger policies to protect the community and mitigate poverty and well-being as well as respond to changes in climate because there is currently poor communication and engagement, little Indigenous voice in decision making and lack of recognition for Indigenous culture. They are also facing a very concerning problem; almost a third of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People are suffering under severe or very severe psychological problem. Indigenous men between the ages of 25 and 29 have the highest suicide rate in the world, with 90.8 suicides for 100,000 inhabitants (the last decade has seen a 56 percent rise in hospitalization rates for self-harm). These high rates of suicide and self-harm are considered to be a symptom of the stark challenges facing the indigenous people.
Relation to climate crisis
Changes in ecological landscapes - due to mining, tourism and climate change
Predictions for climate change in North Australia - higher temperatures, sea-levels rising, more extreme cyclonic events, storm surges...
Sea levels rose 7-10 mms per year along the northern coastline 1993-2009 and 21-30 mms on the southern and eastern coastlines
Drop in numbers of certain animal and plant species
Climate changes have impacted on community health and well-being
Climate changes would potentially force the Yolngu People from their homes
How to help
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