Tanami track leads to learning for Warlpiri women

A chance to share stories and exchange ideas

A group of Warlpiri community leaders have travelled more than 2,000 kilometres through the heart of the Tanami Desert to learn how communities in the Kimberley are driving positive change for local children and families. 

The six women are members of two Early Childhood Reference Groups that World Vision supports in the remote communities of Willowra and Nyrippi in the Northern Territory.

The reference groups provide an important forum for community members and service providers to meet and consult on issues affecting the lives of local children, including playgroups, school activities and health services, to ensure they reflect local needs and cultural practices.

Over the course of a week the women visited other community-led family and childhood initiatives in Fitzroy Crossing, Yurmulun (Pandanus Park) and Derby; the latter where World Vision runs a playgroup in partnership with the West Australian Government.

At the playgroup, the Warlpiri women shared stories of their reference group work with local parents and workers as well having some fun with local children singing Warlpiri nursery rhymes. 

“Seeing what they do at Derby was good, we’d like to bring back some of those things to playgroup, like damper-making and boab nut painting,” one Warlpiri member said.

At the Marninwarntikura Resource Centre – a women’s resource centre in Fitzroy Crossing – the Warlpiri women learnt about the positive work that’s being done by community members in partnership with local authorities to address issues like foetal alcohol syndrome and domestic violence.


It’s good to see Yapa (Aboriginal person in Warlpiri) and Kardiya (non-Aboriginal person) working together. The Fitzroy story started sad but they are strong now.

Warlpiri woman

World Vision Program Manager Liz Mullen said communities are keen to have a strong voice in the way services are being designed and run in their communities.

“An important part of these study trips is to give remote communities the rare opportunity to share their stories and exchange ideas with other communities about ways in which they can strengthen their voice and better work with service providers and organisations in their area to set local early childhood agendas,” Liz said.

World Vision currently works with 18 communities across Australia to deliver early childhood, leadership and governance programs designed and led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

Warlpiri women spent time finding out how other groups are delivering early childhood initiatives in their communities. From damper making to boab nut painting, they have plenty of new ideas to try back home.