Situated in the heart of the Kimberley, Fitzroy Crossing is approximately half way between Perth and Darwin, inland, on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert. The seasons are tropical i.e. Wet (Jan) and Dry (June) seasons, but the climate is mostly hot and dry.
The Fitzroy Valley has a population of around 1500 in town and 1500 on outlying communities. In the Valley there is an 80% majority of traditional Aboriginal people most of who speak English as a second or third language.
The town has a supermarket, post office, small district high school, hospital, a hotel and a resort. In addition, there is a number of large infrastructure projects about to commence which will see an increase in the level of services offered in Fitzroy Crossing. These include a new school facility, new hospital facility, new police station facility, the establishment of a Centrelink Remote Service Centre, a Community Resource Centre and additional recreation facilities.
Fitzroy Crossing is situated on the banks of the mighty Fitzroy River, which provides year round fishing, camping and swimming. 19 kilometres north of Fitzroy lies Geikie Gorge, a spectacular limestone gorge which attracts tens of thousands of tourists each year. The Kimberley region in general boasts a vast array of tourist attractions set in stunning landscapes for out-door adventurous types.
The nearest towns are Derby and Halls Creek both approximately 250kms away and of similar size to Fitzroy. Broome, the nearest large town with banking, professional services, extensive shops and entertainment is 400kms away on the west coast.
Life in Fitzroy offers a fantastic opportunity to experience Aboriginal culture in a cross-cultural, cross-language setting. The opportunity exists to form lasting friendships with indigenous Australians who are friendly and welcoming and be generously included in their community, social life and ceremonies.
To sum up facilities are limited but the quality of life is excellent and each day is never dull, as amazing and unusual things happen all the time.
Marra Worra Worra Aboriginal Corporation
Marra Worra Worra is the oldest and largest Aboriginal Resource Agency in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Its primary aim is to provide support services to existing and emerging groups in the Fitzroy River Valley, and to assist them to develop as strong, autonomous communities and organisations. Based in the predominantly Aboriginal town of Fitzroy Crossing, its area of operations extends from Jimbalakadunj community, 120 kilometres to the west, to Yiyili community, 170 kilometres to the east.
Marra Worra Worra’s other major role has been to act as a forum through which the Aboriginal people of the region discuss and act on issues of common concern. This is in fact how the organisation came into being in the late 1970’s. At that time a community development program initiated by the State Department for Community Welfare was beginning the task of addressing the severe social problems that had arisen through a century of oppression and a decade of upheaval. The introduction of the pastoral award in 1969 had seen over a thousand people uprooted from the surrounding cattle stations to become fringe dwellers in the town, living in atrocious circumstances, and suffering the consequence of economic dependency, almost universal unemployment and wide-spread alcohol abuse.
The development programs were focused on the seven communities existing at that time. Leaders of these communities met regularly by a creek called Marra Worra Worra. By 1978 the meetings had become institutionalised under this name, and when the leaders decided to pool resources to employ a part time bookkeeper to provide basic financial services, it became an organisation with an office and staff.
From this modest beginning, Marra Worra Worra has continued to provide financial services to member communities, including general bookkeeping and banking, the administration of and reporting on government grants, and most importantly, a facility for handling basic income payments – pensions, social security payments and CDEP payments. In 1980, Marra Worra Worra’s services extended into the area of community and infrastructure development and included such services as pursuit of land and living area claims; liaison and negotiation with mining companies; coordinating the planning and delivery of services and infrastructure to communities, from stores to housing and water and power supplies; and the organisation of training programs.
Marra Worra Worra was incorporated in 1981, but it was not until late 1984 that recurrent funding for staff positions and operations was received from the then Department of Aboriginal Affairs. To that time, Marra Worra Worra relied entirely on bookkeeping fees and contributions from member communities, supplemented at times by training subsidies and grants from aid organisations like the Freedom from Hunger Campaign. From 1985 until 1999, income was primarily derived from Federal Government grants. In 1997, ATSIC, the primary funding source for Marra Worra Worra changed its funding priorities and guidelines and the functions of Marra Worra Worra no longer met the funding guidelines. From 1997 till 2004, Marra Worra Worra functioned mostly on a fee for service basis, with a small amount of government funding to provide municipal services to a small number of communities. In 2004, with the devolution of ATSIC powers to mainstream government bodies, Marra Worra Worra again became nearly fully funded from Government sources to provide a wide variety of programs to twenty six communities. These programs include Community Development and Employment Program (CDEP), Municipal Services and Housing Management.
During its lifetime Marra Worra Worra more than anything else has been both a part of and a response to the determination of the Aboriginal people of the region to return to their country to live in autonomous communities. The outstation movement, as it is often called, is the driving force of Aboriginal life around Fitzroy Crossing. This is reflected in the ever increasing numbers of communities serviced by Marra Worra Worra over the years, from the original six, that became seven in 1978, twenty by 1984, and thirty five by 1992. The process of small groups budding off from the large communities, seeking and eventually acquiring their own land, growing larger, and in turn spawning new groups is a dynamic phenomenon that still continues.
Marra Worra Worra’s particular strength and value has been its ability to provide for these small groups; from the first hesitant steps towards a land claim, through to providing ongoing services to established communities that are either not large enough, or do not wish, to employ their own support staff. It has also provided a voice and an avenue to government for these groups that might otherwise have been ignored, and through it’s representative Executive structure, a regional perspective and a mechanism for mutual support between the communities.
Over the last decade Marra Worra Worra, in partnership with community organisations in the area, has been in the forefront of the push for Aboriginal economic independence for the region. The result of this is that a large portion of the economy of Fitzroy Crossing is now controlled by Indigenous interests.
Marra Worra Worra is controlled by an Executive Committee comprising elected representatives from each of the four main indigenous language groups (Bunuba, Gooniyandi, Walmajarri and Wangkatjungka).
Marra Worra Worra is funded to deliver a number of government services to Aboriginal people and communities in the Fitzroy Valley region. These include:
CDEP- 38 worksites, 840 participants
Marra Worra Worra also delivers a number of smaller programs such as an Aboriginal Education, Training and Employment Officer, small capital works programs, as well as auspicing community funding for programs such as Home and Community Care (HACC) and Shared Responsibility Agreements (SRA).
· 50% share of Bandaral Ngadu Pty Ltd which owns and operates Ngiyali Roadhouse, one of two roadhouses in Fitzroy Crossing;
In addition to this, Marra Worra Worra has numerous land holding investments in both Fitzroy Crossing and Broome.
> office status
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