What We Do
Waltja means ‘Family’ and our services follow the life-cycle of the family. We support children, mothers and fathers, youth and their families, and elders through various projects and funding. Our programs aim to alleviate social distress and improve community relations more broadly.
All programs are the result of in depth consultations with the community and guidance is provided by our Indigenous board of directors.
At the core of Waltja’s work is a desire to develop and promote the capacity of the members of the Central Australian communities for self-management and self-determination.
Waltja Directors are committed to supporting young people to stay strong in culture, to be well and happy, to get a good education, to stay out of trouble, and to be future leaders. Since its inception, Waltja has been actively working in supporting the young people and their families in different communities through different programs. Currently, Waltja has been supporting the young people in the communities through the following programs:
Waltja’s Reconnect program has been supporting the young people in Papunya, Mount Liebig, Titjikala, and Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa) since 2001. We work with young people between 12 and 18 years old, who are at risk of homelessness to feel safe, reconnect with their family and community, and to build a strong future. This service is funded by the Australia Government Department of Social Services.
Good News Story: An 18 years old (female) approached a Waltja worker expressing she wanted to get a job in her community, Papunya. She had completed year 12 and had just returned back to her home. She said she had been homesick and now wants to work in her own homeland. The worker supported her to get her IDs, Tax File Number and bank account set up as an initial step to be job ready. We then went on to the local stakeholders to seek employment opportunities. She was able to secure a job in a community store. Her next goal is to save up from her job to buy herself a car.
Family Mental Health Support Services
Waltja’s FMHSS program aims to support children and young people from 0-18 years old, who are showing early signs of, or are at risk of developing, mental illness, to improve well-being and enable them to better participate in their communities and reach their full potential. This program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services accessible to three communities, Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa), Titjikala and Apatula (Finke). The program focuses on improving the mental health and well-being, enabling the capacity of young people and their families to better manage the impact of mental illness, and supporting families and carers to care for their children and young people with mental illness. Our staff provide flexible and responsive services to address the social and environmental factors that lead to mental health conditions for children and young people when signs or symptoms of poor mental health first appears.
Children and Family Intensive Support
In the end of 2021, Waltja was able to secure a funding to extend its Youth and Families program to Utopia, Engawala, Atitjere, Laramba and Bonya.
Waltja’s IFSS aims to support families to explore their strengths to make a positive and sustained change in the lives of their children. The primary goal is to ensure improved health outcomes, safety, and wellbeing of the children. Waltja staff work together with the parents and carers and provide support to families where a child has been experiencing neglect or is at risk. Waltja staff went to Atitjere to connect with the community members and young people as a starting point for CaFIS program. The senior ladies were really welcoming and took the worker on a bush trip to a place full of rock holes with young Mer. The ladies talked about importance of the country and culture and encouraged the young women to attend school and grow up strong
Waltja delivered 2 workshops with women and young girls in Aputula in 2021. The 2 workshops delivered were co-facilitated by elders targeting young girls and women. During the 2 women’s workshops key objectives were met, including discussing safe places for young women and older women to go in the community, safe people to talk with when having big worries and what help is available outside of community. Collaborative paintings to share the story of Waltja-Tjutangku Tjungkunku Kanyintjaku Tjananya were also generated. In the initial phase, Waltja successfully undertook planning, promotion, and preparations in collaboration with key elders and community members prior to the workshops. Similar workshops were planned and delivered in Papunya and Mount Liebig in 2019 and 2020, where the elders led the workshops to create paintings highlighting safety of young people and safe places and people to go to when they have big worries.
Alice Springs Police donated around 20 BMX and other mountain bikes to Waltja for the FIX EM UP project at Aputula community. Mel and Chris also went to the Alice Springs Tip Shop with a trailer and loaded it up full of more bikes.
As soon as Mel arrived in the community the interest was over whelming! Local lads, Colin, Ashwyn and Lincoln took the lead and organised people fixing the bikes. They were all fixed in just two days !!!
Mel visited the school and sat with the upper and lower primary youth who all came together to design t-shirts for the bike project. The week after Mel returned with the students designs and they screen printed lots of t-shirts. Young people were proud of the bikes they fixed up and were keen to start riding and learning the road rules.
The bike program was such a success that no young person wanted to be without their bike and even the parents wanted one to ride around the community. It’s great when everyone comes together to support each other.
Alcohol and Drugs Awareness
“I want to see young ones healthy and working, doing sports” – Florence Brown
In May 2021, Waltja workers along with elders and young people, MacYouth and NT Health Remote AOD Team organised two workshops (one for wati, one for kungkas) in Papunya community. The elders (Florence Brown, Isobel Gorey, Linda Anderson, Punata Stockman) led the workshops with young men and women in two different sites. In the Kungkas workshop, NT Health AOD Team facilitated the information and resources, talked about how AOD breaks relationships and the effects of the AOD on the developing brain of young people such as impacts in decision-making, loss of awareness, unable to think about the family and community, and disconnect from social life. The elders, then talked about “hope for the future” and supporting young people to connect to culture as a way of minimising AOD harm in the community. A painting portraying AOD harm minimising and doing things Aboriginal way was created by the women. The elders (Kumanjayi Poulson and Sammy Butcher) led the wati workshop. The elders took young men to a sacred site for men and yarned about dreaming of the place. The elders with NT Health AOD team also talked to young people about effects of AOD use on individuals, families, and communities. Thanks to NT Health for the Grant, and Papunya community for their support.
We went out to half-way dam towards Finke River other side chamber pillar.
We went out to look for the bush plant Atjilitja. This plant is good for joint pain and sores. We went out with our old ladies from Titjikala. It’s very important to go out and visit our country and teach our young kids how to look for bush medicine and what to look for.
Uwa Nganana arnu Ngurra ini half-wayla kutu Panya meditjina putitja mantjilkitja Manula kungka-warra Tjuta Katingu ngurra nintilkitja yaltji yaltji tjamunya munu kaminya nyinapai mai putitjangka
The most liked workshops by young people in every community, it’s fun, messy, and colourful! Waltja staff have organised tee-shirt and jumper screen printing activities in Titjikala, Aputula, Papunya, Mount Liebig and Atitjere communities. Prior to screen printing, the young people sketch and draw designs they would like to see on their tee-shirts. Waltja staff then selected the common theme and created a screen with a design that represents the skill and engaged in positive activities with their peers.
Waltja workers went to Papunya in the October school holidays and ran a kungkas sewing workshop. The MacYouth team were a great help in running this program. Shona, Justine and Parveen from MacYouth helped tell people about the workshop and explain everything to the girls that came along.
The sewing workshop went for 2 afternoons. On the first afternoon, everyone learnt how to sew together material to make backpacks. There were many different stations, and everyone did some measuring, cutting, sewing on the machine and ironing. At the end of the first day, everyone had made their own backpack.
The next afternoon everyone came back and did final touches on making the backpack. Then we painted designs on the backpacks. There were really great designs – there was some dot painting, flowers designs, and some people even did their own ‘Nike’ style backpacks.
There was also lots of food for afternoon tea each afternoon, and dancing for TikTok. Some of the backpacks even made their way into some of the TikToks. One of the girls said, “I thought that sewing was going to be boring, but it was actually fun!”.
Cashless Debit Card Support Services
Strong Money For Everybody
Financial hardships have been recognised one of the major barriers for Aboriginal people in making positive and sustained changes in their lives. Thus, Waltja’s Cashless Debit Card (CDC) project aims to enable individuals and families build capacity to make informed decisions about their finances.
Holding on to the existing relationship with communities and previously run money management program, the current program focuses on capacity building for CDC participants through basic financial literacy to support the participants to have greater control in managing finances through enhanced basic budgeting and financial literacy skills, including but not limited to developing interaction skills to communicate with relevant agencies; enhancing digital literacy and safety ; and enabling local leader to be CDC communication and to build trust with the community members.
The CDC project will be HQ based, extending to Atitijere, Bonya, Engawala, Laramba, Ti Tree and Utopia homelands.
Every July NAIDOC week celebrations are run all across Australia, in order to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This year, Waltja helped to organise a great NAIDOC Week Celebration in Mt Liebig, with help from Mac Youth, Purple House, and lots of young people!
In 2021, the celebration included a screen-printing workshop followed by a community BBQ. Waltja bought lots of black jumpers, with the idea of screen printing a design on the jumpers that represents and celebrates the lives and culture of young people in Mt Liebig.
A couple of weeks before the event, Waltja workers headed out to Mt Liebig to find out what everyone thought. During their visit they ran a drawing activity with lots of young people at the rec hall. Everyone drew what they thought should be screen printed on the jumpers. There were so many great ideas and beautiful drawings. Almost everyone drew something about the Saint’s, showing just how important footy is!
Waltja took little bits of everyone’s drawings to make one design for printing. Hopefully everyone could find a little bit of their ideas in the final picture. Waltja headed back to Mt Liebig and had lots of fun screen-printing jumpers with all of the young people.
A big thanks to Mac Youth for helping to put on a BBQ dinner for everyone
Thanks to Purple House for donating to the event and to the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) for providing a NAIDOC grant.
Around 150 people joined in the Christmas BBQ organised by Waltja, supported by MacYouth and CDP. The community members enjoyed a big feed, drinks, and gospel songs. The young people were running around, dancing and having a good time.
The community members worked tirelessly to prepare salad, organising the ‘giveaway gifts’, decorating the Christmas tree, serving food, taking pictures. MacYouth assisted in organising the music equipment and transporting people. CDP offered a venue for the BBQ, giveaway gifts, built a stage for the Gospel, provided additional supplies of food and drinks, helped in cooking up, set up marquee, and transported music equipment. A big thanks to the community and stakeholders for their time and assistance.
Family Fun Day
Over 120 community members joined Waltja for the Family Fun Day. This event was organised to share information and resources from the AOD Awareness Workshops conducted in May 2021. The community members and stakeholders were really helpful in running this event. CDP helped in making a stage for the band’s performance and transporting band equipment. The school supported in providing the event space and kitchen, Wanta and the school helped in cooking BBQ. The school teachers also helped in managing the kitchen space and cleaning up after the event. The Nutritionist from NT Health set up his stalls to facilitate healthy cooking and successfully run the activity with participation from young people making Rissoles. MacYouth helped in serving food and running games & activities. The Remote NT AOD team joined in having conversation with people regarding AOD and assisting in games. Papunya Art Centre and MacDonnell Regional Council members also joined in the event. The local band DUST STORM performed on the event day with their original and cover songs. Waltja team members managed the t-shirt screen printing, media and assisting wherever needed. The community members and young people seemed to enjoy the afternoon with good food, music, and fun activities.
Thanks to the stakeholders and community for great collaboration and success of the event.
Waltja Nintipulka (Getting Clever)
Central Australia is the land of Aboriginal Arts and Artists. Unfortunately, it is seen commonly that Aboriginal Arts is predominantly managed by non-Aboriginal people. Waltja Nintupulka project is designed with a focus on capacity building in Aboriginal Arts management. This project incorporates a Senior Aboriginal Worker, who will train trainees to develop their skills as future art workers and potential shop front managers. The trainees will also have opportunities in upskilling through accredited training. The program will enhance the capacity of trainees by developing skills such as:
- Stock management
- Artwork data entry and database management
- Sales management via shopfront, markets, events or online
- Marketing and promotion
- Customer service and administration
The media trainee works in supervision of Waltja’s media team they are trained to design and edit website, photography skills, photo editing skills, catalogue designs, and Newsletter designing. The media trainee also takes part in community visits with field workers, where they can learn about the local culture, engage, and transfer their skills to the young people. The training also incorporates marketing and sales of products in Waltja’s art sales.
Waltja has been supporting disadvantaged youth to come onboard and learn skills on finance management. Our finance officer supports trainees in developing crucial skills in finance and helps them to get accreditation in finance and business.
Emergency Relief Fund
Aboriginal people across Central Australia experience financial hardship due to various reasons such as illness, homelessness, limited employment opportunities in remote communities, or domestic and family violence. The ER program incorporates immediate crisis support for families stuck in Alice Springs because of extreme weather conditions, such as flooding; or delays with medical, court, or other appointments. Waltja has been proactive to provide practical support in such cases when families need immediate attention to meet their needs.
Watja has been providing ER service since 2002 with funds from the Australian Government Department of Social Services, and with Waltja’s own funds when grants were not enough to meet emergency needs. Waltja utilises ER to help families in and from remote communities in time of financial crisis and hardship.
Waltja’s core mission is to promote self-determination and encourage people to help themselves. Emergency accommodation, food and fuel are practical ways Waltja can help. We also refer people for support from other Waltja programs such as youth programs, NDIS, Aged and Disability, as well as other agencies. Waltja’s ER program helps people to manage immediate crisis and get control back so they can make positive changes to their lives.
Emergency Relief is the most valued Waltja program by our members, and Waltja relies on the Australian Government Department of Social Services for their partnership and continued support for this essential program.