Warddeken Land Management

Warddeken Land Management Ltd is a body that governs and sustains the long-term, self determination of the Nawarddeken people to live, work and learn on Country while re-establishing cultural practices and transferring knowledge to the next generations of custodians.

A place where people are caring for Country, culture and kids.

For thousands of generations Nawarddeken clan groups have lived on and cared for their ancestral estates in the stone country, the Kuwarddewardde, of Arnhem Land, NT. After the arrival of balanda (non- Indigenous people) Nawarddeken left their land until, by the late 1960s, it was largely de-populated.

Over the next 30 years the Kuwarddewardde experienced growing numbers of feral animals and large wildfires, which threatened biodiversity and cultural sites. From the 1970s well-known artist Bardayal ‘Lofty’ Nadjamerrek AO, began a movement back to homeland communities in the Kuwarddewardde.

The Warddeken Land Management group (established 2007), governed by representatives drawn from 36 clan groups of the Kuwarddewardde, is now responsible for the governance and strategic direction of these communities. Warddeken’s goal is to sustain long-term self-determination of Nawarddeken to live, work and learn on country, while managing their land and practising culture.

Kabulwarnamyo outstation is now the headquarters for the Warddeken Rangers, an Indigenous ranger team managing 1.4 million hectares of country of global conservation and cultural significance.

Due to its size and remoteness, Kabulwarnamyo does not currently qualify for a Government school. To attend a Government school, children must move to far-away towns, predominantly Gunbalanya (Oenpelli), causing families to be separated for extended periods.

With the help of the Karrkad-Kanjdji Trust, the community of Kabulwarnamyo has established the Nawarddeken Academy. It is a unique bi-cultural, bi-curriculum school where children learn in their traditional language alongside English. Specific curriculum is developed in partnership with community elders, and taught in tandem with the Australian Curriculum, valuing both cultures and imparting the skills needed to develop meaningful careers, living and working on country.

Partnership, Achievements and Resources

Dusseldorp Forum has partnered with Warddeken Land Management since 2016 to support the development and growth of the Nawarddeken Academy model and the vision of the Warddeken people to better serve the educational needs of the children of west Arnhem Land.

  • $130,000 for operational costs and independent evaluation of Nawarddeken Academy to underpin the long-term development and growth of the Nawarddeken Academy model and the vision of the Warddeken people to better serve the educational needs of children of West Arnhem Land.

  • 19 Indigenous ranger jobs have been created or retained because children have been able to be educated at home, on country at Nawarddeken Academy
  • The average attendance rate at the school is 87% whilst students are in the community with a 7% increase from 2018. Well above the state average for Indigenous school attendance.
  • 57 children accessed remote bi-cultural education through the Academy in 2018
  • Students have significantly increased their literacy and numeracy skills whilst gaining a deeper connection to their culture and the unique landscape of the Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area

In 2018 Nawarddeken Academy received its Independent Schools Registration that commenced January 2019. Registration brings recurrent government funding that secures the financial future of the Academy.

Here you’ll see and meet great people and also see great things are happening within our community, but also there is a long way to go trying to make our Government understand ‘why” it is important to us, moving back to our regional home and wanting to put resources back to bush such as employment and education. We want to bring our people back to their own clan estate.

Dean Yibarbuk, Chair Warddeken Land Management