Newcrest continues to sponsor the Desert Sports Development program in Western Australia to help deliver health, training, employment, education and justice benefits to young Martu people.
The program started in 2008 as a partnership between Newcrest and the Western Australian Government that created and funded an Indigenous Sports Development Officer position to be based in Telfer.
Today, the Martu Council is an incorporated body known as Ngurra Kujungka (meaning ‘all coming together in one place’) that supports the Western Desert’s first community-driven, regional sport and recreation program, including regularly scheduled sporting events and school holiday programs.
Ngurra Kujungka has expanded to offer art, music and culture. At the AGM in November 2019 new funding from the National Indigenous Australians Agency was announced, with future school holiday programs to include more elements for communities such as hunting and camping trips with Martu elders.
In FY20, highlights included:
- 250 Martu adults and children attending the Martu Youth Festival in Punmu. Community teams competed in men’s and women’s football, softball and junior basketball. Ngurra Kujungka invited elite sporting organisations (West Coast Eagles Naitanui Academy, Swan Districts Football Club, WA Football Commission and Softball WA) to attend and select talented Martu youth for future pathway opportunities.
- 500 Martu adults and children participating in week-long Martu School Holiday Programs delivered by Ngurra Kujungka staff and Martu community recreation officers in Punmu, Jigalong, Parnngurr, Nullagine and Warralong.
- 70 young Martu men playing in a curtain-raiser football match at Perth’s Optus Stadium as part of a week-long tour that included educational sessions.
- 22 Western Desert women travelling to Perth for the 2020 Newcrest Mining Ltd Western Desert Shield Softball Tour. Players were selected from seven remote communities in the Western Desert forming two teams — Yapurra (West Side) and Kakarra (East Side) — to play three exhibition games at the National Softball Championship.
- Three Martu students representing Strelley Community School as athletes at the WA All School Championships in Perth.
- Desert Feet running music workshops in Nullagine for the school holiday program, featuring Tessa Hutchinson, Matt Bracknell and Indigenous guitarist Boyd Stokes.
- Jigalong community hosting a football match between a Western Desert all-star girls’ team and the Swan Districts’ the V Swans girls’ academy, with AFLW role models Kara Antonio, Ebony Antonio and Jemma Houghton.
Powerhouse pitcher and former Ngurra Kujungka council member Morika Billjabu from Punmu sees the Western Desert Shield as a good idea for the girls.
It’s a new environment, and they can take the experiences back home and share them. Sport is healthy and good for friends and team building.