Barrgana newsletter 2020

Barrgana is the cold season with strong south-easterly winds and temperate days. People move back to the coast and the tidal creeks where the walgawalga (bluenose salmon), gurlban (mullet) and gnanarr (dugong) were easily caught. There may be morning mists and occasional gujuguju (dust storms) on the plains and mirdimarlu (kangaroo) and barrjaniny (wallaby) are fat and can be hunted. Whales move up and down the coast as they head for their breeding ground in Camden Sound.


This will be the last report I will make to you as CEO of Nyamba Buru Yawuru. From July 1, I will be taking up an executive position at the Australian National University in Canberra.

My start date at the ANU was delayed for a month because of covid-19, so like many of my countrymen, I have spent some recent time in isolation – working from my home in Broome.

And like many people I have spoken to since then, I found this to be a time of reflection, regeneration and reconnection. Because of my senior status, I was fortunate to receive regular deliveries of fish and other goods; my family stayed in touch via electronic media, zoom and so forth. And I actually found the time to reflect on the many good things that were happening around me as a result of covid19.

We are very lucky as a community, and as a region, to have avoided this virus. Let’s hope it stays this way. But I think we need to reflect on how the ‘pause’ which the virus forced us to have was positive. We know, for example, that a lot of people returned to country, and a lot of family members stepped up and looked after older people. We saw less drinking around town, and the police tell us that crime rates and domestic violence rates fell.

I think we, as a community, should ask ourselves why this might be, and what we might do to keep some of these positive shifts in place.

As I write this farewell note, Australian cities are dealing with Black Lives Matter protests, and Rio Tinto and BHP are the focus of negative media attention for completely inadequate protection – and outright destructions - of Aboriginal sites of enormous significance. There is an appetite nationally for change – and in my new role at the ANU, I will have the opportunity to contribute to those national conversations.

It has been an honour and a privilege to be able to work in this role for the last 4 years. Over this period, NBY was undergone significant restructuring, and I believe I am leaving the corporate group in a much stronger position than what it was in when I began.

Can I sign off by welcoming Susan Bergensen to the role. Susan has worked as the previous Deputy CEO of Nyamba Buru Yawuru, and is a person who has my complete confidence in her ability to undertake this role. Susan has worked by my side for my entire tenure at NBY, and we formed a formidable team. Can I also thank Cara Peek for her diligence and commitment over six years in the role of Chairperson of NBY. Cara will be standing down from this role to take on the position of Deputy CEO at Nyamba Buru Yawuru and I wish her all the very best.

I would like to end by thanking the staff at NBY for their loyalty and camaraderie, as well as the the Boards of both NBY and the PBC, for their hard work and commitment over the last 4 years.


Peter Yu


The Nyamba Buru Yawuru Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Susan Bergersen as the Chief Executive Officer, and Cara Peek as Deputy Chief Executive Officer as of July 1st 2020.

David Puertollano, Acting Chair of NBY, said the Board welcomed both appointments and looks forward to working with the new NBY executive team during this challenging time as we all navigate our community and business through the significant risks associated with Covid-19.

Mr Puertollano said “The NBY Board was keen to ensure we had the right professional leadership team to continue the growth and success of the Yawuru Corporate Group. Both Susan and Cara bring significant experience, knowledge and capacity to the two key executive positions.”

Ms Bergersen has been with NBY since 2016, and has contributed enormously to the positive trajectory of the organisation since that time. Ms Bergersen has worked in national and international roles with extensive experience managing growth, development and governance across complex operations in both NFP and commercial arenas.

Ms Peek will step down as the Chair of NBY to take up her position as Deputy CEO of the organisation.

Ms Peek, a Yawuru woman, is a lawyer and has extensive cross industry experience including running her own business with international and domestic philanthropic and advisory interests. She has also established her own non-profit and was the recent winner of the 2019 Churchill Fellowship, 2019 AMP Tomorrow Maker & the 2020 WA AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award.

Mr Puertollano acknowledged and thanked the outgoing CEO Peter Yu, who will take up a senior position at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.

NBY Office

Our office re-opened on 6th May to staff, and then to the public on 1st June. But it is not business as usual.

Internally we have strict guidelines relating to personal hygiene, hand sanitizing and so forth. Those staff interacting with Yawuru elders have particularly strict guidelines to follow. We also have policies in place for staff who feel unwell, or who have family members who are unwell or who have undergone tests for covid-19.

We continue to monitor government advice and abide by government restrictions, which are gradually being lifted.

Narli Walami and the Yawuru Foundation

Yawuru has now established Narli Walami Pty Limited which is to be the new trustee company for the Rubibi Trust. The boards of both entities are in the process of finalising the legal and financial arrangements for the transfer of the trust to occur.

Nyamba Buru Yawuru has also recently established the Yawuru Foundation which will become the social and cultural arm of the Yawuru Corporate Group.

The initial board of the Yawuru Foundation will shortly commence the recruitment process for additional directors and also for a CEO who will have a focus on fundraising from philanthropic, corporate and government sources to support and enhance social program delivery and cultural support for the benefit of the Yawuru community.

The intention is that Nyamba Buru Yawuru will become more focused on being the economic arm of the Yawuru Corporate Group and that profits generated from successful commercial ventures will be used to further support and enhance the activities of the Yawuru Foundation.


New Community Development Unit Manager

We welcomed Chad Sloane to NBY in mid January this year. He has come to Yawuru country from Adelaide, where he spent seven years, and was most recently the manager of the indigenous division of a large national job provider.

And why did you decide to apply for a job at NBY?

Largely it was because my wife wanted to move back to country. My wife’s Yawuru. Her Nana grew the family up in Wyndham in the East Kimberley. So she's been keen for a long time to reconnect to her cultural background, and to bring our kids up in that understanding was a very important part. So, yeah. So coming back to country.

So you arrived in January and then you've been thrown into this COVID time?

It's been an extremely steep learning curve. My line manager basically had two weeks with me prior to him leaving, and I had very big shoes to fill there. And, yeah, ever since then, it's just been a very steep learning curve and of course then COVID-19 came out of the blue. But I think during that process, that's where I really got to know the spirit of Liyan, and understanding just how passionate the staff here were at CDU in terms of supporting community needs during a time of crisis. I got to witness the real spirit of Liyan that people talk about, in action, which was very impressive to watch, and to be a part of. A privilege to be a part of.

So what’s your favourite kind of bush tucker Chad?

Definitely be bush turkey. I was introduced by a man in the East Kimberley about storing all of the various parts that people might not eat into the neck, and then roasting the neck of the bush Turkey. And that's probably been my favorite bush food, since then and gila, a little fruit that appears at Christmas time in the East Kimberley. A little berry that's really, really nice that we also stuff in there. But pretty much all of it. And I like dugong too.

Warrmijala murrgurlayi program (rise up to work)

Warrmijala murrgurlayi program is an 8 week agriculture pre-employment program that is funded by Shell. The program aims to deliver training and employment outcomes to people who are 30 years old or younger. Pre-covid, we were running this program in partnership with Roebuck Plains Station as part of their recruitment process. 15 participants were selected to compete for 6 positions on the Station. They were required to undertake their Certificate 2 in agriculture, as well as a range of workshops relating to life skills, wellbeing, financial literacy, mental health and on country trips with the Yawuru rangers.

The six have been selected, but the program remains on hold because of covid-19. The other 9 participants will be supported to complete their cert 2, which will put them in a good position to apply for work on surrounding stations.

NBY’s Warrmijala murrgurlayi team – Carol Anne Bernard, Alanah Matsumoto and Lalin Manado – are waiting for Shell to finalise an extension of the program to 2022.


Jarndu rangers revegating Minyirr Park

Yawuru’s women country rangers have worked to propogate more than 20 native species local to Minyirr Park – from collecting the seeds, germinating them and planting them out. This program has formed part of the Aboriginal Ranger Program Grant through the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions. This grant has been supporting Monica Edgar and Sharee Dolby to undertake this revegetation work.

More than 700 plants and 20 species have been planted across Minyirr Park since the project began in 2018. Monica and Sharee have also been treating weeds across the entire area.

Protecting Bilby habitat project

Firebreaks and early dry season backburns have been undertaken north of 12 mile, on the border of Pio’s paddock and the the Indigenous Protected area.

DBCA provided in-kind support for this project, as well as training for Yawuru country managers and direct funding. The burning will protect sensitive bilby habitats from dangerous late season wildfires.

Click on map for a closer look.

Ranger Funding success

The Environmental Services team has been lobbying the Federal Government’s National Indigenous Australians Agency(NIAA) for several months about the value of the Yawuru IPA program and the valuable work of the Yawuru Country Managers looking after Yawuru country. With funding for the Country Managers coming to an end in early 2020 there have been many conversations, letters and presentations to key NIAA staff . A full grant application was submitted in March this year and this has recently been successful in achieving on going funding for the continued employment of the Country Managers. The team can now undertake with certainty a review of achievements to date and commence planning for 2020-2021.

Congratulations to the environmental team.

Welcome new staff

We are also farewelling Luka Gray, and welcoming Caitlin Harnwell, who will be Susan Bergersen’s Executive Assistant. Before covid-19, Caitlin returned from Europe where she had been working for a publishing house in London. Caitlin’s also travelled extensively in central Asia and the middle East, and her favourite place was Kyrgyzstan, the home of the Yurt.


08 9192 9600

PO BOX 425, BROOME WA 6725