Martu return to Western Bulldogs to talk business

For the second year running, a group of Martu men from the Western Desert in the Pilbara region have come to Melbourne on a study trip to learn more about the world of business.

First stop was the Western Bulldogs AFL club where they met with Board members to discuss corporate management and governance issues.

An added bonus was the chance to meet with Bulldogs players after training and talk footy in the run-up to the 2016 AFL Indigenous Round, which celebrates the contribution of Indigenous Australians to Australian football.

The study trip forms part of the Martu Leadership Program, a joint initiative between World Vision Australia and the Pilbara-based Aboriginal organisation Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa.

The Martu are the traditional custodians of a vast area in the Western Desert in Western Australia. They were among the last of Australia’s Indigenous peoples to make contact with the European world, many leaving completely traditional desert lives to move into stations and missions in the 1950s and 60s.

Martu return to Western Bulldogs to talk business

The Martu Leadership Program aims to build on, and complement, the leadership skills of Martu men and women by equipping them with knowledge and tools to engage with mainstream Australia.

“The Martu really wanted to have a program that built on what they were already doing with their land management programs, their ranger programs and learn a bit more about how mainstream Australia operates,” explained Nick Devereaux, World Vision program manager from the Western Desert.

“Martu have a lot of companies to run. They’ve got their individual communities. They’ve got their prescribed body corporates that manage their native title. They’ve got their schools, all of them are companies. So coming to visit and meet with the Board and hear about how the Board of the Western Bulldogs governs is really useful for them because it gives them some ideas about how they should be running their own companies.”

The study trip was so successful in 2015 that organisers wanted to provide the same opportunity for a different group of 15 Martu leaders this year.

"We wanted to come here to the Bulldogs mob, like to bring two worlds together,” said Butler Landy, Martu man and program mentor. “They’ve opened the door for us, that’s twice now. A third time wouldn’t hurt, even a fourth time.”

As well as visiting the Western Bulldogs, the Martu were also scheduled to meet with other corporate Boards including those at Jetstar and BHP Billiton. Another highlight will be taking part in the Long Walk on 28 May that precedes the traditional Dreamtime AFL game at the MCG.