Keith Jugarie: Coming Together With Good Ideas

For Keith Jugarie, Kija and Jaru Elder, the Men's Tribal Centre will play an important role for bringing everybody together and sharing good ideas for a better future.​

Keith Jugarie (Kija and Jaru) is a local Elder that resides in Mardiwah Loop in Halls Creek. 

‘In this sort of town here, we’ve got so many different tribes here. You’ve got Jaru, Kija, Walmajarri, Bunuba, and so many from different areas who are now here. A long time ago, it wasn’t like that,’ said Keith.

‘I’d like them to understand that we’ve got this thing [Men’s Tribal Centre] up and going and for people who would like to come in – there’s lots of people out there with plenty of good ideas, people who are a bit older than what I am. It’s a really good starting point, to get it up and going. What I hate to see is just talk, and nothing gets done. But if we can get together, make a plan, and get it up and going, for all of us to share, then it will be good.’

The Men’s Tribal Centre is located on Halls Creek’s former golf course, which is historically a traditional Aboriginal ceremonial grounds. The Men’s Tribal Centre will be a culturally safe space for Aboriginal men to come together, for young people to learn from local Elders, and for non-Aboriginal people to connect with the timeless Aboriginal cultures in the area.

The Men’s Tribal Centre is an initiative led by Olabud Doogethu Aboriginal Corporation, the Shire of Halls Creek, and the Elder’s Reference Group. 

If you are interested in supporting Olabud Doogethu’s efforts to bring together a Men’s Tribal Centre in Halls Creek, you can contact Larry Smith on 9168 6007.

Shire Approves Men’s Tribal Centre

The Shire of Halls Creek has approved for Olabud Doogethu to begin creating a Men's Tribal Centre on the old Halls Creek golf club, which is traditional Aboriginal ceremonial grounds.​

Olabud Doogethu has begun the process of creating a Men’s Tribal Centre, following approval from the Shire of Halls Creek in late August. 

The Men’s Tribal Centre is a community-led initiative where men can come together and learn from each other, as well as the local Elders. 

Olabud Doogethu is currently working collaboratively with key Aboriginal Elders throughout the Halls Creek community to shape the future direction of the Men’s Tribal Centre.

The prospective site will be located on the old Halls Creek golf course, which has been identified as a traditional ceremonial ground for Aboriginal people. 

‘Men haven’t had a place for themselves to come together and yarn. We hope this would be a space that can bring all tribes together, and help connect young people with their culture. It’s a way for us to work together on community issues, but also for new people to come to the town and learn about culture from our Elders and our community,’ said Larry Smith, Human Rights Officer who is working on developing the Men’s Tribal Centre. 

If you’re interested in learning more and being a part of this process, contact Olabud Doogethu.

Kutjungka: Launch of Prospectus

On 25 and 26 August 2021, the desert communities of Wirrimanu (Balgo), Mindibungu (Billiluna), Mulan, and Kundat Djaru (Ringer Soak) met for their first governance committee meeting and also launched their prospectus at the East Kimberley District Leadership Group in Halls Creek.

The Kutjungka (‘as one’ in Kukutja) project is an Aboriginal-led initiative to improve the livelihoods of remote desert communities, fix local issues and keep the government and service delivery providers accountable. 

In late August, the Kutjungka leadership governance committee met in Halls Creek which involved the community leaders from Mindibungu (Billiluna), Wirrimanu (Balgo), Mulan and Kundat Djaru (Ringer Soak). This was the first governance committee meeting, since it was established earlier this year in April. 

In his opening remarks, Dennis Chungulla welcomed all the community leaders: ‘We’ve all worked hard to get here. We want to see our family and kids benefit from this project. Let’s make it work for our people, together.’ 

The Kutjungka governance committee finalised the Kutjungka prospectus, which identified all the key strategic priorities that were shared but also on a community level. 

Noel Mason, CEO of the Shire of Halls Creek, briefly joined the Kutjungka governance meeting and evoked the importance of the project for the future ways of working in remote Aboriginal communities.

‘Kutjungka is the project that shows them that we need to change the way we do business in remote Aboriginal communities. For far too long, governments have had too much of a say in the lives of those in remote Aboriginal communities, without the people benefiting at a local level. Kutjungka is an opportunity for us to practice what we preach,’ said Noel. 

Margaret Glass, Director of Youth and Community Development at the Shire of Halls Creek, also helped to chair the first governance meeting: ‘We have come here to have a bigger political voice and so the government can hear the voices from the local level. So the idea is to get this leadership committee strong, do the advocacy in Perth and Canberra – wherever you need to go – but you mob doing it for yourself, for your communities,’ said Margaret. 

Julianne Johns from Mulan shared why she was a part of the Kutjungka project: ‘We’d like to see a better community, see what happens and help our young people,’ said Julianne.

Peter Wein from Kundat Djaru (Ringer Soak) also emphasised that remote Aboriginal communities are left out and Kutjungka would be able to have their voice heard: ‘We really want our communities up and running. We can’t just talk; we need to see action. Ringer Soak is always left out. Our community is really lost. So we’re joining together with this project to make a future for ourselves.’

The Kutjungka community leaders also presented at the East Kimberley District Leadership Group, which included senior government officials from different agencies (such as the Department of Justice and Department of Communities). 

The Kutjungka project is being rolled out in the coming months and is funded by the National Indigenous Australians Agency.

Mibala Learning: The Journey Begins

In mid-August 2021, Olabud Doogethu began its pilot of 'Mibala' ('Us Together' in Kimberley Kriol), an alternative education pathway for children that have disengaged in schooling.

In Halls Creek, education remains one of the toughest policy challenges. For years, the education system has lagged behind, failing to prepare the children of Halls Creek for a future in the 21st century.

Research from the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre ‘The Early Years: Investing In Our Future’ report released last year has shown that Halls Creek ranks as one of the most disadvantaged communities for early childhood education and development in Australia.  In Halls Creek, 75% of people are Aboriginal. For many children and young people living in Halls Creek, English is their second or third language. Having an education curriculum that fails to adapt to the local cultures and languages makes it more challenging for children. 

As a response to this, Olabud Doogethu began the development of ‘Mibala: Learning Country’, a nationally-accredited certificate that will seek to draw on the timeless strength of Aboriginal culture as a tool to support young people’s development and instil confidence and sense of identity.

Most importantly, Mibala has been developed by local Aboriginal Elders and community leaders in Halls Creek, which highlights the urgent need for a localised approach to education.

‘We’re still in early days, but it’s been fulfilling to say the least. We have kids who left the mainstream education system for years now, so it’s difficult to try and get them into a routine. So we work around them, we have had to tailor our approach to them and try to alter out expectations,’ said Thomas Farrer, a Kija man that has joined to support the Mibala program.

When it comes to engaging kids, it’s all about understanding who they are. ‘Our first few days, we actually just observed how they behaved when we took them out on to Country. Who were the leaders, who were the followers, and what would motivate them,’ said Arron Little, a Kija man and the Mibala Learning Coordinator. 

‘Delivering our teaching with flexibility is key. Working in a routine, like in a traditional school, is difficult for these kids. Because they likely grew up in an environment that was unstructured and unpredictable themselves,’ said Arron.

‘Every group of kids that go through Mibala will be different. These are the kids that the schools have left behind, and these are kids that have fallen through the gaps. For a lot of them, they don’t feel like they look forward to a lot of things and opportunities. But through Mibala, we hope they learn more about the strength they have, who they are, where their tribe is from, and that we – as Aboriginal people – are resilient people who are the oldest living culture in the world. We can do anything, because we’ve always adapted,’ said Thomas. 

‘Our greatest strength as people who are leading this program is that we ourselves have gone through similar experiences that the kids have gone through. We can relate on a level that no Kardiya can understand, and I think that’s what makes Mibala unique. It’s done by local people and our Elders, who have lived these lives too. We were just fortunate to find our own strength through our lives, and now we hope we can pass this on through our connection to culture and Country,’ said Arron.

Mibala is also guided by Dean Mosquito, Kija and Jaru man, who is the Executive Officer for Culture and Transformation. Dean oversees all of Olabud Doogethu’s cultural activities and ensures that all programs and operates follow Aboriginal culture and protocols.

‘When I left school at 15 years old…I helped the teacher translate the lessons to the kids and help break down the English, since most kids were from out of town,’ said Dean. 

‘Mibala will be teaching kids cultural stuff. We’ll try to get them ready [for life]… to identify who they are, where they’re from… because most of our kids don’t know who they are and they’re missing out on what’s really important – which is our identity and culture,’ said Dean. 

‘I hope when they come out of Mibala, they feel proud of themselves, what they have achieved, where they’re going in life and learn how to respect their land, their culture, and their language,’ said Dean. 


Redesigning Justice in Halls Creek

Olabud Doogethu has begun redesigning a new justice system in Halls Creek, guided by the expertise and world-leading research of Dr Harry Blagg, The University of Western Australia.

In Halls Creek, Olabud Doogethu has begun the journey to redesign the justice system that is based on the concepts of community justice (also known as ‘restorative justice’), which allows communities to ‘own’ their own problems and play a key role in resolving them without using the courts and criminal justice system.

In partnership with Dr Harry Blagg from The University of Western Australia, Olabud Doogethu have begun to recreate the justice system in a way that is based in local Aboriginal law and culture, community-led solutions and strategies, and creating culturally-appropriate pathways for prevention, rehabilitation and support.

Dr Blagg visited Halls Creek and met with Olabud Doogethu earlier this year in April, which began the project of creating a new community justice system.

This initiative is being led by Olabud Doogethu’s human rights team, which consists of Larry Smith, Dennis Chungulla, and Donald Butcher.

‘We live and breathe on Aboriginal land, so our systems should also reflect this reality. There is no Aboriginal ownership or involvement in how justice is done, and by creating the right mechanisms – we can work in a more culturally-appropriate way,’ said Larry Smith.

At the core of Olabud Doogethu’s community justice initiative is putting the community back at the centre of dealing with local issues.

‘Our community knows about the problems that we face and we also have the solutions. It’s important for us to come together, to consult with our Elders, and most importantly for government and services to listen to us – how they can support us in the best way possible so we can create a better community for our children,’ said Dennis.

Olabud Doogethu looks forward to working closely all key government agencies and stakeholders to create a better justice system in Halls Creek.

COVID-19 and Halls Creek

Musa Mono, Director of Health and Regulatory Services from the Shire of Halls Creek,recently sat down with Olabud Doogethu to talk about the threat of COVID-19 and the importance of vaccinating to protect your loved ones.

The community needs to take action

The major point of concern is, there seems to be vaccine hesitancy in the population of Halls Creek. That is a major point of concern considering the pandemic that we have at the moment, and the fact that the fourth wave of the pandemic seems to have entered Australia and is now spreading in the community. It is most severe in the Eastern states, but it is now within the community and being transmitted from person to person.

I think the Federal Government and the State Government of Western Australia is doing a good job in trying to control this. There is a lot of sacrifice they are making in terms of economic growth and development.There’s a lot they’re sacrificing to try and contain this. The current control tools are closing the borders, limiting international travel, quarantining people from outside the country, lockdowns – for the places that are already affected – and contact tracing… That is what the governments are doing to help the community in Australia. But in all cases, where you have a disease outbreak, there are several stakeholders who must take action.

While the governments are taking the right course of action, we need the community to do the same. What is lacking in Halls Creek is the community’s part in controlling this, in making sure that we don’t get devastated by the outbreak. Social distancing, washing your hands,maintaining good hygiene, and wearing a mask, using QR codes or registering in public places are some of the ways the community can help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But the most effective tool for the control of this disease is vaccinations.

Health experts talk about “herd immunity” where a population achieves a certain amount of immunity against the disease and that tends to prevent outbreaks, or severe infections and deaths in populations. Currently, the estimate is that when we have 70-80% of the adult population vaccinated, we will achieve herd immunity. But the big fear now is that we can reach 70-80% of the Australian population, when actually within our own Shire, we are way less than 30-40% in terms of people vaccinated.

Social media and misinformation

There is a lot of information circulating. Let’s face it: misinformation is spread through social media. Every time we see something sensational on Facebook,we share it. If you are sharing misinformation, then more people will be reached with that misinformation.

The problem is that the media puts so much emphasis on that one case of a vaccinated person who gets side effects, that it begins looking like everybody will get it. We have hundreds of thousands of people that have been successfully vaccinated, and only a handful who have gotten blood clots or side effects, for instance.

Those hundreds of thousands of people are protected from severe COVID-19 disease, and yet, there is so much emphasis on the one person who gets side effects. We should note that our medical services can manage the reactions and side effects from the vaccines.

One of the arguments that I have heard is that the vaccine is new and we don’t know if there are any long-term side effects. Those are good arguments. Both the vaccine and disease are new and yes some medications do have long-term side effects.

At the end of the day, do you want to take the risk of suffering from COVID-19 without any protection, which could mean you get severe disease and may die, or take the vaccine with a risk of long-term effects which might not exist anywhere.It is a calculated risk which people should take after having received good information about COVID-19 and the vaccines.

I’m not sure why and how people can feel so invincible, in the light of more than four million deaths right now in the world due to COVID-19 disease. Deaths were high in a lot of rich countries, like in Italy. You’re talking in the thousands of elderly people dying. By the time it got to the United States, you had both elderly and middle-aged people dying.

Underlying conditions

When we talk underlying conditions, people think it means serious diseases or conditions. Simply obesity, undernourishment or even being a smoker can be a problem. So there is no ways you can say 100% you are invincible to severe COVID-19 disease, and I think the safest thing people can do is to get the vaccine.

The vaccine does not stop you from getting the infection, but it does stop you from getting severe disease. It also makes the people that get infected, transmit the disease less than they would if they were unvaccinated.

The Delta Variant is a very infectious disease. They tried to contain it in Sydney, but it spread to Victoria, regional NSW and maybe even New Zealand. It has now affected Aboriginal communities in New South Wales, where there was a death in a community yesterday.

That there is a group of people that are immune and not vulnerable is a conclusion drawn out of misinformation and possibly the success of the WA Government in closing the borders to prevent entry of the disease into WA. 

How long can we keep the infection out using border closures? We have seen people driving through the Tanami and Duncan, while police are struggling to close those roads.

The local community should consider the option of vaccination. It is a responsible thing to do for ourselves, our families and our community.

For more information on COVID-19, visit; and to receive your vaccination please visit Yura Yungi Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation.

Justice Reinvestment: Derby and Fitzroy Crossing

Olabud Doogethu, Social Reinvestment WA and Western Australian Council of Social Service (WACOSS) travelled to Derby and Fitzroy Crossing to discuss justice reinvestment and share learnings with the local communities.

On 23 and 24 June 2021, Olabud Doogethu, Social Reinvestment WA (SRWA) and Western Australian Council of Social Services (WACOSS) travelled to Derby and Fitzroy Crossing to discuss justice reinvestment with the local communities. The trip included Dean Mosquito, Arron Little, Margaret Glass, Dennis Chungulla and Larry Smith from Olabud Doogethu; Sophie Stewart from Social Reinvestment WA; and Louise Giolitto from WACOSS. 

Since Olabud Doogethu began its journey two years ago, it has led to a transformation in Halls Creek, which has caught the attention of communities throughout Australia.

Crime reduction since the Olabud Doogethu journey began

The latest data from the WA Police in May 2021 has seen a 63% reduction in burglaries (aged 10-17) in 2017-20; 43% reduction in oral cautions (aged 10-14) in 2019-20; 69% reduction in arrests (aged 10-17) in 2017-20; 63% reduction in Juvenile Justice Team referrals (aged 10-17) in 2018-20; 59% reduction in motor vehicle thefts (aged 10-17) in 2017-20; and 64% reduction in the number of Aboriginal persons admitted to police custody (aged 10 and over) in 2017-20 in Halls Creek. Across the Kimberley and Pilbara region in particular, many communities have been interested in learning about Olabud Doogethu, given the shared challenges of young people getting in trouble.


It was the first time Olabud Doogethu visited Derby and they were excited to see how they could support the Derby community. ‘We went to Derby and met with the Shire of Derby, local organisations, the Headmaster of the local school, as well as communities from the surrounding Derby area, such as Mowanjum.’ said Arron Little, Olabud Doogethu’s Alternative Education Coordinator. 

‘They wanted to hear about Olabud Doogethu’s approach, how it has been successful and how they can potentially incorporate a program in their own community, similar to our Youth Engagement Night Officers (YENO),’ said Arron.

Sophie Stewart, Campaign Coordinator from SRWA, was also involved in meeting with the Derby community. ‘The workshop in Derby was well attended by multiple organisations in town who also want to see a better future for young people. They are exploring on how to embark on their own place-based social reinvestment journey. The Olabud Doogethu leaders were able to share their experiences and expertise to help guide Derby on the next steps they could take. We hope to continue sharing resources, learnings, and support as they collaborate on a new way forward and forward and grow together,’ said Sophie. 

Fitzroy Crossing

Following the Derby meetings, Social Reinvestment WA and Olabud Doogethu travelled to Fitzroy Crossing the next day. ‘In Fitzroy Crossing, we met with the Fitzroy Womens Resource Centre Marninwarntikura, and it was impressive to hear of the work they are already undertaking in their community – from running a women’s shelter, a legal centre, an arts centre and art therapy program, and a family space for healing, as well as walking alongside young people with cognitive impairments and Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). They were really interested in Olabud Doogethu’s Alternative Education TAFE Certification work (Mibala). We plan to continue to share ideas, research, and models which have worked across respective communities,’ said Sophie. 

Following the series of meetings, Arron reflected on how he felt: ‘I felt a sense of pride for my community and for my town knowing that we’re not turning our backs away from anybody else. We want to share our knowledge and our experiences and hopefully that can help better their communities.’

Immersion Trip: On Country

The Olabud Doogethu and Social Reinvestment WA immersion trip was an opportunity for not-for-profits to visit Halls Creek, WA and learn directly from the Olabud Doogethu leaders about the justice reinvestment opportunities and challenges in the Shire of Halls Creek.

From 28 June to 1 July 2021, partner organisations from Social Reinvestment WA travelled from all around Australia to meet with Olabud Doogethu in the Shire of Halls Creek. 

The not-for-profit partner organisations from Social Reinvestment WA’s coalition included Wungening Aboriginal Corporation, Amnesty International, Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Watch Committee, Outcare and Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia. 

The immersion trip included travelling out on to Kija and Jaru Country with Olabud Doogethu leaders, such as Springvale, Lumuku (Osmond Valley), and Palm Springs.

Olabud Doogethu leaders had the opportunity to share about the future direction and their next steps, including the establishment of the Men’s Tribal Centre, the Kutjungka (‘as in one’ in Kukutja) human rights project, and the alternative education pathway, Mibala (‘Us Together’ in Kriol), which will be launched later this year.

Stefaan Bruce-Truglio, Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer at the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia, reflected on his time in Halls Creek:

‘There were so many things that I learnt on this trip it is hard to decide what to mention. I guess the most important thing is that this trip reinforced my unequivocal belief that when Aboriginal communities are resourced to enable them to utilise their knowledge and other strengths to take action and make change, they can make such a difference in such a small period of time. Supporting Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, Elders, and young leaders to be able to place connections to culture, country and family at the heart of services for young people in their community is the most crucial component of healing,’ said Stefaan. 

‘Decision makers, and all of us as non-Aboriginal Australians must walk this journey alongside Aboriginal people, by building the cultural understanding required to address the broader systemic issues (such as inadequate housing & healthcare and intergenerational trauma, racism and inequality), that continue to have a detrimental impact on the well-being and future of Aboriginal young people across the nation,’ Stefaan added. 

‘Only by listening, learning, and building relationships with our First Nations communities as well as supporting and complementing Aboriginal-led initiatives, rather than leading when it is not our place, can we truly work towards reconciliation. This trip strengthened my resolve and commitment to continue to support SRWA and Aboriginal-led initiatives such as Olabud Doogethu in their efforts to advocate for Youth Justice reform, including the campaign to raise the age and end the overrepresentation of Aboriginal young people in the justice system.’

Sophie Stewart, Campaign Coordinator, from Social Reinvestment WA reflected on the future of justice reinvestment:
‘Place based Social and Justice Reinvestment will look so unique everywhere- because the way Olabud is working is forged by the strong cultural and community identity of the Kija and Djaru people of Halls Creek. It is inspirational work in reducing crime, building locally led Self Determined solutions, and engaging the most vulnerable young people. But responding to crime can only take us so far, we now need to focus on resolving underlying social issues in the community: Housing, Engagement with Education, Connection to Country and Culture to heal and grow strong. Connection and collaboration with more people and organisations in the community will be critical for this next part of the journey.’
Gabby Stretch, Case Intervention Officer with Olabud Doogethu, enjoyed the opportunity to go out on to Country with the Social Reinvestment WA coalition: ‘It was real good. Seeing the Country, going for a swim and welcoming everyone to the Country. That was my favourite part… If people are interested in our work, come check us out and get to know us and see what we do.’
Reflections from their visit:

A Digital Future for Halls Creek

Halls Creek will soon be able to take advantage of cheaper, faster and more stable Internet for remote health, education and e-commerce opportunities.

The Shire of Halls Creek have recently signed an agreement with the National Broadband Network (NBN) to provide cheaper, faster and stable access to the Internet for over 400 homes in Halls Creek.


One of the biggest benefits from a faster and stable access to Internet will be the opportunity to provide health and medical advice remotely, commonly known as ‘telehealth’.

Remote communities will be able to receive telehealth and medical advice, removing the need to travel long distances. This also improves the ability for Halls Creek to maintain and share medical records, improving the quality of healthcare to patients.


The improved Internet access also allows Olabud Doogethu to deliver educational opportunities remotely.

Olabud Doogethu’s nationally-accredited course, Mibala Learning Country, includes a module that focuses on digital devices, an opportunity for young people to engage in the digital world and prepare them for a future in the workforce.

‘It’s good for the kids to receive information through the Internet. They can be a part of conversations around our town… All these kids are on the Internet, they’re really clever, but it’s also about using the Internet to get them engaged in school,’ said Councillor Rosemary Stretch.

Councillor Rosemary Stretch believes this development can benefit kids: ‘They’re the next generation. If they want the information, they can get that knowledge and understanding,.’


Promoting the community’s rich culture and connection to Country is also another opportunity as the NBN is rolled out across Halls Creek.

‘We have a lot of talented artists here so it’s a good opportunity for people to see what we’re doing and learn from it….’ said Councillor Rosemary Stretch.

NBN will be available in public areas in Halls Creek, which is open to the public, with scope for future expansion in the coming years.

Towards a Brighter Halls Creek

The Youth Engagement Night Officers have seen improved visibility at night, following the installation of new LED streetlights in Halls Creek.

In May 2021, Olabud Doogethu and the Shire of Halls Creek successfully partnered with Horizon Power to install LED street lights in Halls Creek.

At night time, many of Halls Creeks streets were poorly lit with many street lights no longer working.

Now with the new LED lights, the Youth Engagement Night Officers (YENOs) who walk the street at night have said it’s a massive improvement.

Improved visibility

‘The new LED streetlights help us [YENOs] see better at night, especially the kids,’ said Mitchell Bradshaw, one of the original YENOs who started walking the streets in 2019.

‘The kids use the darkness to hide from us, like in the oval. But with the street lights, there’s less places for them to hide. They can also see us coming over, so they know when to go home,’ said Mitchell.

Mitchell manages one of the teams and has observed that there is a more relaxed atmosphere at night in Halls Creek, compared to when he started: ‘There would be 60-70 kids out at night time back when I started in 2019, but now there are only like 20-30 kids.’

Reduction in youth crime

The YENO program is one of Olabud Doogethu’s flagship programs, which began with Aboriginal Elders volunteering their time to walk the streets at night in 2019. 

In May 2021, the WA Police provided Olabud Doogethu Aboriginal Corporation the latest data showing a massive improvement in youth crime in Halls Creek in recent years. This has included: 63% reduction in burglaries (aged 10-17) in 2017-20; 43% reduction in oral cautions (aged 10-14) in 2019-20; 69% reduction in arrests made (aged 10-17) in 2017-20; 63% reduction in referrals to Juvenile Justice Team (aged 10-17) in 2018-20; 64% reduction in the number of Aboriginal persons admitted to police custody (aged 10+) in 2017-20; and 59% reduction in motor vehicle theft (aged 10-17) in 2017-20. 

This follows recent remarks from the Minister of Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt in April 2021 for highlighting Olabud Doogethu’s work in breaking the cycle of incarceration.