About Marthakal Homelands Resource Centre
Brief History and Location
Prior to the arrival of Europeans, Elcho Islanders and other Yolŋu living along the coastal edges of Arnhem Land had regular contract with sea traders.
The Trepang fishermen had been coming each year to the Northern Territory coastline from Macassar for many generations, beginning several hundred years ago. Records indicate that thousands of Macassan came to the coastal areas each year. Trading activities existed between the visitors and the local Yolŋu and provided a significant economic contribution to the region.
During World War II, with the establishment of a RAAF base at Milingimbi came the increased risk of Japanese attack. In 1942, Harold (‘Sheppy’) and Ella Shepherdson relocated the Milingimbi sawmill and other valuable equipment to Galiwin'ku. Methodist Overseas Mission (MOM) commenced the building of a permanent mission at Galiwin’ku in 1947.
Arnhem Land became an Aboriginal Reserve in 1931 and remains one of the largest Aboriginal Reserves in Australia and is perhaps best known for its isolation, the art of its people, and the strong continuing traditions of its people. Northeastern Arnhem Land is home to the Yolngu people.
The Arnhem Land Region of the Northern territory is located in the north-eastern corner of the territory and is around 500 km from the territory capital Darwin. The region has an area of 97,000 km²
Elcho Island is an island off the coast of Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia. It is located at the southern end of the Wessel Islands group located in the East Arnhem Region. Elcho Island is approximately 55 km long and 6 km across at its widest point. It is bounded on the western side by the Arafura Sea and on the east by the Cadell Strait.
Elcho Island is a short distance away from the mainland and Howard Island. Galiwin'ku, located near the island's southern tip, is the main community on the island.
Marthakal Homelands Resource Centre
The Marthakal Homelands Resource Centre (MHRC) incorporation in 1986 as a community initiated, owned and run Yolngu organisation that exists to support and facilitates the growth of its 29 foundational homelands.
Within this scope Marthakal is responsible for the provision of services, along with economic and social development, to the homelands that house over 500 residents across and area of 15,000 square kilometers in North East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. This area is collectively known as the Marthakal Homelands and home to the Yolngu people group. Operating from its head office located at Galiwin’ku, on Elcho Island.
The population of Galiwin’ku is approximately 1698 persons. Galiwin’ku is the largest community on Elcho Island, with many smaller surrounding outstations that are inaccessible during the wet season and many outstation residents migrate to Galiwin’ku.
Senior clan Mala (Group) representatives form the MHRC Executive to inform and direct the organization in relation to the management of the 26 Homelands within the MHRC region and the land use interests of their individual and collective clans. The Mala leaders meet monthly to consider and discuss and the strategic approach of the organization including relevant policy development and executive decision making.
The Mala leaders as the executive members have delegated certain operational responsibility and authority for the Marthakal Homeland Resource Centre to the CEO and General Manager, who are supported by a strong Management Team.