The Yiriman Project
The Yiriman Project was conceived and developed by the elders of four Kimberly language groups; Nyikina, Mangala, Karajarri and Walmajarri. The elders were concerned about their young people and issues of self-harm and substance abuse and saw the need for a place where youth could separate themselves from negative influences, and reconnect with their culture in a remote and culturally significant place.
Yiriman has two aspects to its governance and management processes. The management processes are undertaken by the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC). KALACC auspices the Yiriman project and attend to issues of financial management, staff employment, reporting and acquittals however Yiriman retains its own project governance structure which is independent from that of KALACC.
Yiriman’s governance works because there is and always has been a very clear sense of who established the project, why they established the project and what they want the project to achieve.
Yiriman is a cultural program which operates on a cultural governance model. Indeed, one of the main purposes of the overall governance structure is to coordinate the allocation of resources to each of the language groups and to coordinate the timing and annual calendar for the project i.e. which groups will undertake which activities, where and when.
Throughout these processes, cultural bosses make the decisions about the projects, unlike a Board of Directors who requires the approval of members; their decisions are based purely on community and cultural knowledge and discussions between elders and cultural bosses. It also means that the elders and cultural bosses can focus on helping their young people, without worrying about the logistics of the project.