Name of School

Yirrkala School

Name of Ranger Group

Dhimurru Rangers

What languages do you mainly speak in your community?

Yolŋu Martha and English

How many people live in your community?


When did the Learning on Country Program start in your community?

In April 2013 Dhimurru and the Yirrkala School began the Learning on Country program. The program aims to improve attendance of Yolŋu children at school, the readiness of students to take up satisfying and rewarding careers, and prepare the next generation of Yolŋu landowners to care for their estates which are of national and international significance.

What does the Learning on Country Program mean to your community?

Learning on Country delivers ‘both ways’ learning which makes sure our heritage is passed on to our young people whilst also ensuring they get the mainstream education they need.

Why is it important?

The use of Yolŋu country and traditions to inspire and guide Yolŋu student learning to the same standard expected by all Australians is what is known as both-ways education, an approach championed by the former Yirrkala School Principal and educational scholar, the late Dr M. Yunupingu.

What type of LoC activities happen at your community?

Galtha Rom is one of the key pillars of the intergenerational opportunities. Galthas are usually multi day events incorporating a range of learning opportunities with wäŋa waṯaŋu – landowners and custodians of Country.

Learning on Country also supports Vocational Education and Training for land management and the Maritime Program.

Tell us about the Rangers supporting the LoC Program. What lessons are they teaching the students about your country?

The Dhimurru Rangers enjoy working with the students and passing on and sharing their skills and knowledge. This happens during the weekly Conservation and Land Management training and on Galthas and field trips ‘on country’.

A key component of this is about the student’s identity and their relationship to the rangers and to Country.

Learning On Country

“…The land will exist forever. It must be protected so that it will remain the same, so that it can be seen in the same way that the elders saw it in the past. Our vision and hope is that Yolŋu will continue to use the land for all generations to come.” Roy Dadaynga Marika, 1990. Dhimurru Vision Statement.

The Yolŋu children of north-east Arnhem Land are the future owners and managers of their land and sea. In time they will become the custodians of a rich tradition of songs, art and knowledge about their estates. Dhimurru has recognized that since its inception by providing regular opportunities for school children, especially Yolŋu children, to visit and learn about their culture and environment with Wäŋa waṯaŋu – traditional owners including Dhimurru Rangers.

Learning on Country is an exciting extension of regular ranger presentations to Yolŋu students at Yirrkala School. Students literally “learn on country” at events planned and delivered by senior Yolŋu, rangers, vocational education trainers and school teachers. Each event is followed up in regular classroom teaching that uses aspects of the ‘country’ as resources for student development, learning and academic achievement.

What future training or work opportunities are available in your community for LoC students?

There are a range of employment opportunities in the region, including, Tourism, Health, Education, Land management, Sports, Hospitality, Extractive industries.

What other LoC Partnerships are happening in your community?

There are three NGO’s that support the students and work closely with the Learning on Country Program in Yirrkala School.

The Clontarf Foundation exists to improve the education, discipline, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and by doing so equips them to participate more meaningfully in society.

STARS provides a holistic program that supports Indigenous girls and young women to attend and remain engaged at school, complete Year 12 and move into full-time work or further study.

Cotton On Foundation supports the LoC Galtha program and Indigenous teacher education, and is focused on empowering youth globally through the delivery of quality educational projects in Australia, and overseas.

What is something you are most proud of about LoC in your community?

We are serious about our kids coming to school – Learning on Country is one of the ways we are making this happen. Learning on Country is about bringing kids to school and keeping them there with meaningful learning.

Country is a resource/library for education and inspiration, as well as holding important lessons on discipline and identity. We assist students to carry the lessons learnt on country into the classroom to help achieve a mainstream education and employment pathways and options.

Dhimurru provides real jobs for our young people – the Learning on Country Program shows there is a pathway to first class training and leadership positions, and the students see there is a reason to come to school and they do.

Yirrkala Homelands School
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