Yuendumu

Yuendumu is located approximately 280km north west of Alice Springs. This post includes a brief overview of aboriginal and european occupation, conflicts and difficulties faced by the people who lived in the area. Yuendumu settlement operated a pastoral activity and attempted to establish a meat processing facility to support the local community.

 

Current Operation

  • Closed

Location

  • Yuendumu is approximately 300km north west of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory
  • Abattoir facility itself was located about 20km out of the township

Yuendumu

Yuendumu. #2

Owner

  • NPC1

Operation

  • Slaughterhouse was established 1990 to supply meat to local community and income to the cattle operation of NPC.

Acronyms

  • ADC      Aboriginal Development Commission
  • ATSIC   Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission
  • BTEC    Brucelloisis Tuberculosis Eradication Campaign
  • CAAPA  Central Australian Aboriginal Pastoralist Association
  • DAA      Department of Aboriginal Affairs
  • DEET    Department of Employment, Education and Training
  • DEIR     Department of Employment and Industrial relations
  • IAD       Institute for Aboriginal Development
  • NPC       Ngarliyikirlangu Pastoral Company

History

Pre 1800’s

  • Yuendumu is situated on Ngalia Warlpiri country (Pg 246)
    • Evidence supports that continuous occupation has occured for 10,000 years (Pg 246)
    • Main land owning group is Walpiri (Pg 248)
    • People moved extensively for hunting and gathering, withdrew to core areas of importance at watering points in dry periods and extended over very large areas in better seasons.(Pg 249)
    • Walpiri maintained close relationships with other clans to north, east – Kurinji and Anmatyerre, Pitjantjatjara and Pintubi (Pg 249)
    • Walpiri discriminated against Arrernte tribes.(Pg 249)

1873

  • Warburton expedition crossed the Tanami and came into contact with Warlpiri people (Pg 250)

1890’s

  • Commencement of pastoral settlement increased contact with aboriginal people (pg 250)

1900’s

  • Granite goldfields commenced, a series of wells were established between Granites and Hooker Creek (Pg 250)
    • relationships not always cordial with aborigines.(pg 250)

1914

  • Gold reserves had petered out (Pg 250)

1920

  • Pastoral lease uptake increased to the north and far west (Pg 251)
  • Conflict with aborigines increased (Pg 251)

1928

  • Coniston massacre occurs (Pg 251)
    • 28 Warlpiri die as a result of an avenge attack by police and pastoralists in retaliation of the death of a non-aboriginal dingo hunter.(Pg 251)

1932

  • More gold is discovered at the Granites. (Pg 251)
  • Several pastoralists open up mining ventures for wolfram and gemstones.(Pg 251)

1940’s

  • Reports of Aboriginal peoples state of living in the Tanami region build pressure to establish an Aboriginal reserve in the area.(Pg 251)
  • Reverend of Baptist union wanted resumption of whole of Mt Doreen station lease.
    • lengthy negotiations, interrupted by WWII

1946

  • Yuendumu reserve 2,200 km square was established (though not declared until 1956) (Pg 256)
    • Area was selected  because a bore had established permanent water (Pg 256)
    • land was in immediate vicinity to a bore on unoccupied crown land (Pg 256)
    • Country not particulary suited to cattle (Pg 256)
    • Later 137 sq miles was transferred from reserve to Mt Allan pastoral lease (Pg 252)
  • Yuendumu welfare settlement was established.
    • to settle nomadic Aboriginal groups under the Aboriginal affairs policy of assimilation (Pg 252)
    • to provide social welfare of Aboriginal people, train them in non-aboriginal skills so they may be assimilated into non-Aboriginal society (pg 252)
    • Policy objectives was training and employment for work within and outside the settlement (Pg 252)
    • Also to provide administration, health, education and general development functions
  • Cattle project was included with (pg 252)
    • garden (vegetable growing)
    • piggery
    • poultry
    • Aim to increase self sufficency
    • Cattle enterprise started with 200 head (Pg 254)
  • Initial population 400 people (pg 252)

1960’s

  • Population now over 1,000 people (pg 253)

1967

  • Rations and cash allowance replaced by Training allowance Scheme (pg 255)
    • Scheme – in lowest form, was less than dole
    • Scheme – in highest level paid less than award wages
    • Settlement residents received free basic health service, education and subsidised meals from communal kitchens
    • Some residents received free rudimentary housing

1970

  • NT Social Welfare Branch annual report state there is (Pg253)
    • well established garden
    • bakery
    • store
    • mining company
    • housing association and a school council

1972

  • Settlement was under administrative control of NT Social Welfare Branch (Pg 253)
    • Superintendent on advice from village council
    • Village council were representative body of all skin groups living in Yuendumu
  • Labour government election announce Aboriginal affairs policy of self-determination (Pg 253)
    • beginning of major structural changes in administration and development
  • Moves made to incorporate the cattle project as a pastoral company (pg 253)
    • Cattle herd now 3,500 head
    • Particularly good grass seasons 1967-1972 (Pg 255)
    • Further growth was limited by lack of reliable water sources
      • at this time only had 2 reliable bores and 1 dam for the entire herd
    • Management had varying degrees of pastoral industry expertise
    • Income from cattle sales was not paid to community but into Consolidated revenue(Pg 254)
      • lack of incentrve to sell cattle, meant very low turnoff of animals (Pg 255)
    • Expenses were paid from cash and rations under Settlements administration therefore not reliant on cattle project (Pg 254)
    • Capital development for all projects  was reliant on annual budget priorities.
      • Funding priorities depended on Canberra / Darwin
    • Cattle project goal was to maximise employment, train men in pastoral skills and provide fresh meat to the community (Pg 255)
  • Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA) was primary employer of all people (Pg 267)

1974

  • Crash of beef prices. No cattle turned off during the period 1972-75.(Pg 257)
  • Only killers for kitchen, averaged 2 per week (Pg 258)
  • Seasons had been very good 72/73 – meant herd numbers built rapidly (Pg 258)

1977

  • Privatisation occured of some activities that previously had been under control of the Social Welfare divisions (Pg 130)
  • Bakery, garden, poultry farm and kitchen had ceased operation by this time.(Pg130)
  • Muster was conducted of Yuendumu and neighbouring property, Haasts Bluff. 850 prime bullocks sold when trucked to Adelaide. Gross return of $720,000, None of the funds went to the cattle enterprise (Pg 260)
  • Yuendumu is declared Aboriginal land under the Aboriginal land rights Act 1977 (Pg 262)
    • NPC couldn’t access mainstream rural finance (Pg 262)
      • Authors note – When Aboriginal land is alienated freehold it is not able to be sold. It can’t held as security for loans, therefore can’t be used as security for debt repayment.

1978

  • Annual cost of training allowance for cattle enterprise $80,000 (Pg 255)
  • Trucking and drafting yards were gradully built from scrap steel from government dumps (Pg 266)
  • NPC employed 12 stockmen (Pg 265)
    • high levels of employment numbers were maintained through cattle sales, labour programs and funding.

1979

  • Ngarliyikirlangu Pastoral Company (NPC) is formed (Pg 259)
    • 6 directors with 60 shareholders
    • All government assets were sold except the cattle (Pg 260)
    • NPC commenced operations with a tractor, trailer and approximately 3500 head of cattle.(Pg 261)
    • Enterprise grant was applied for – $55,000 79/80 (Pg 261)
    • Stock mortgage was raised $20,000 (Pg261)
    • Stockmans wages were to be paid from cattle sales.(Pg 261)
  • BTEC begins (pg 261)
  • Significant tension arose as company directors of NPC used vehicles for personal use (Pg 263)
    • highlighted critical tension – rights of the land owner over an enterprise taking place upon his and other descent group lands (Pg 263)
    • Cattle sale money was thought it should be split between directors and shareholders
      • misunderstood the link between income and costs – owners thought “funny business going on” (Pg 263)
      • community people were taking killers without payment to the company (Pg 264)

1980

  • NPC employed 20 stockmen (Pg 265)

1981

 

  • Cattle enterprise was (Pg 266)
    1. bantail mustering
    2. culling old stock
    3. testing and ear tagging young stock (BTEC)
    4. developing internal paddocks
    5. improving monitoring of waters
    6. regularly testing for disease free status
  • NPC was one of the few aboriginal properties to not be issued with compulsory destocking order (pg 266)

 

1981/82

  • IAD began to advise on property development (Pg 266)

1983

  • Feasibility study concluded that the property had insufficent waters to develop herd to 5,000 – 6,000 head.(Pg 266)
    • Alternative development options were suggested.
    • Develop herd to 5,600 head.
    • establish more bores, paddocks and yards, estimated to cost $283,000
    • build a community abattoir and a butcher shop, estimated to cost $21,500
    • restocking and operational costs estimated to cost $355,000
  • NPC felt it was in a positition to be commercially viable and achieve its development aims (Pg 269)
  • DAA was subumed to private and public organisations. (Pg 267)
    • now eleven organisations employing 73 Aboriginal people
    • created confusion, political rivalry and conflict in Yuendumu
  • Number of outstations were being established at Yuendumu (Pg 268)
  • Negotiations commenced over royalities relating to goldfields in Tanami (Pg 268)
    • Directors began to take less interest in cattle operations (Pg 273)
  • Advisory service of IAD was withdrawn and as funding was based on IAD feasibiltys study funding was withheld.(Pg 270)
  • Significant conflict in the community 1983 – 1996 major disputes as to the role of the council and local governement (Pg 276)

1985

  • Central Australian Advisory Pastoralist Association (CAAPA) was formed (Pg 270)
    • acted as lobbyist for Central Australian Pastoralists
    • Limited property development advice
    • no accounting or training services provided
    • accepted IAD study
      • NPC applied for development funds $706,000, over 5 years.
      • Application was unsuccessful based on land capacity (Pg 271)

1985/86

  • NPC received a capital grant of $37608. (Pg 271)
  • DEIR continue support through community employment program (Pg 271)
    • enables 19 full time and 24 casual employees to be maintained.

1986

  • Concerns raised by Central Land Council  as to Yuenduma land resource ability to support a herd of 5,600 head (Pg 269)
    • CLC calculated a safe stocking rate of 1,000 – 1,500 head (Pg 269)
    • NPC access to funding was now been seriously affected (Pg 269)

1988 / 89

  • CAAPA management was being questioned (Pg 274)
    • questionable individual grants to cattle stations
    • Alledged funds allocated to NPC were used by a CAAPA employee to purchase personal paintings (Pg 274)
    • Audit could not account for $70,000
    • CAAPA was investigated, wound up and no further action was taken by ATSIC

1990’s

  • Hawke-Keating Governments introduced form of local government called community government
    • This had been opposed by land councils – come leadership became more focused on structure of community organisations and less on delivery of service issues.(Pg 170)
    • Result was that community operated cattle stations depended on who from their families was represented in community councils (Pg170)
    • Allies of the cattle company – Ngarliyikirlangu were on council – in kind support of bulldozers and graders was available for dam building (Pg170)
      • when council had people not interested in cattle operation there was no support for it.(Pg170)
    • Proliferation of Commonwealth and NT agencies serving communities (Pg171)
      • singnificant lack of co-ordination between them (Pg171)
      • An aboriginal community pursuing pastoral activities to attempt to conduct a whole of property development program needed to consult and negotiate with 4-5 Commonwealth and NT agencies. (Pg 171)

Agencies consulting_edited-1Source – Black Pastoralism S Phillpot 2000 (Pg 172)
Agencies consulting with Aboriginal communities

  • All employment funding is withdrawn (Pg 271)
    • reason of withdrawal – funding is meant to be directed at economically viable projects (Pg 271)
  • Ministers letter to NPC advise that $1.2M has been invested over last 10 years (Pg 271)
    • NPC dispute and say it was only $670,000 (Pg 271)

1990

  • Employment is reduced to only 1 employee plus manager (pg 275)
  • Abattoir is developed (Pg 272)
    • Licensed slaughterhouse built from a grant from ATSIC and training subsidies from DEET (Pg 276)
    • Over first 14 months of operations employs 4 different trainers (pg 272)
    • no aboriginal trainees were able to complete training programs in meat processing (pg 272)
    • 1993-1996 no training is conducted (pg 272)
  • Abattoir operation(Pg 276)
    • became a major cash flow for NPC
    • was difficulty in employing qualified butchers to train Warlpiri butchers
      • slaughterhouse was not well maintained

1993

  • Manager was unemployed by NPC, continued to run the operation while on unemployment benefits (pg 275)
  • Herd numbers to now below 3,000 head (Pg 275)

1994 / 95

  • Beef prices collapse.(Pg 273)
    • NPC can’t turn off enough cattle to cover interest on debts

1996

  • Department Primary industries advised that facility didn’t meet the new Australian Quarantine Inspection service standards (Pg 276)
  • NPC is currently unviable, Owes Yuenduma Mining Company $150,000, secured by 1,500 head of cattle. (Pg 281)
    • Throughout its operation 1972 – 1996 NPC never made a profit or achieved economic viability (Pg 282)

1997

  • 1st January – slaughterhouse lost its licence (Pg 276)
    • Possible if the slaughterhouse had been successfully operated it would have enabled NPC to achieve a profit (Pg 282)
  • NPC business effectively was only sustained by the benevolence of its major creditor – Yuendumu Mining Company (Pg 276)

Sources

All references –

Black Pastoralism – Contemporary Aboriginal Land Use – The experience of Aboriginal owned pastoral enterprises in the Northern Territory – 1972 – 1996  Stuart Phillpot. 2000.

 

 

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