Waltja Tjutangku Palyapayi

'Doing Good Work with Families'



This 12-month project ran over 2013-2014, and was about older and younger women coming together for culture.The aims were to do family mapping on country and in language, to help transfer cultural knowledge and skills between generations.

Family mapping is a research method that Senior Anangu and Yapa women from remote Central Australia started using at Waltja over fifteen years ago, using drawings and designs seen in desert paintings instead of stories being written down in English. This research method was used back then to develop the four key principles of Anangu child-rearing and keeping culture strong.

As part of the project, community members learned how to do their own research and run family mapping workshops themselves. Also community members learned to develop multi-media skills, especially in photography and audio recording, to record family stories for future generations. Kaltjaku was funded by the Aboriginals Benefit Account and the Australian Government Indigenous Support Program.


In March 2014, a workshop was held at an outstation near Kintore with women from Mount Liebig and Kintore. As well as being very productive in terms of collecting stories and skill building for participants, it was a very good time for all those involved.The women enjoyed camping out and were able to rest from the demands of community life. Some women painted their story on canvas, others told their story and others waited for the evening to dance at the campfire.There was much laughter and singing; the women were happy to have this opportunity to tell their story how they wanted to.

In Laramba, community members were keen to do family mapping on canvas but also on T-shirts and curtains so more people could see them everyday.

In May 2014 at Ross River women from fifteen communities came together to talk about cultural communication styles and recording stories in sand, on canvas, on bodies and using new technologies. Women were very generous sharing their stories, and everyone left feeling listened to and stronger about ideas to keep culture strong.

A highlight of the project was the way Waltja workers from Aged Care and from Reconnect were able to involve their clients in Kaltjaku; for example encouraging some young people who had some knowledge of or interest in multimedia to be involved.


Waltja originally received an offer for funding and signed a Funding Agreement in September 2013 for a start date of 1 July 2013. In good faith, Waltja decided to begin work on this project prior to the funding being deposited in our bank account. Due to a change of Government, however, there were a number of delays before payment was received. payment and this did have a significant impact on running the project.

People involved in Kaltjaku wanted the project to be longer. It took a while for people to spread the word and for people to get involved and there were people just learning about it when the project finished.