BHP Billiton is a long time sponsor of Books in Homes and supports communities in the Martu region with Books in Homes in both Preschool and Primary programs. The BHP Billiton sponsorship has provided those communities mentioned with books in Homes since 2012.
Education is exceptionally important for the Martu, their families and communities. The Martu are the traditional owners of the Martu native title determination, spanning 13.6 million hectares—an area about twice the size of Tasmania. The determination includes parts of the Great Sandy, Little Sandy and Gibson Deserts, collectively referred to as the Western Desert.
The Martu are among the last of Australia’s Indigenous people to make contact with the European world, with many coming in from a completely traditional desert life in the 1950s and 1960s. The older Martu have stories of first contact with European civilisation and of coming into stations and missions from the desert.
The Martu now mainly live in the remote communities of Jigalong, Parnngurr, Punmu and Kunawarritji as well as the neighbouring towns of Newman, Port Hedland and Wiluna. For many Martu, English is often their second or third language.
The Martu leadership program targets young men and women eager to learn more about mainstream structures, processes and governance and to improve their ability to communicate their ideas and aspirations to the broader community. The leadership program now involves about 50 Martu.
In 2016, Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa (KJ) Martu women’s leadership program participants identified education as a key priority for Martu people and their communities. The Martu women leadership participants are concerned about how their children access educational opportunities that will enable them to grow in to strong and healthy adults. They would like their children to be literate and learn how to read and write in both their mother tongue—Martu Wangka, and English.
Petrina Jackman, a Martu mother of two young children from Newman, has been involved in the Martu leadership program for eight months. Through this program Martu parents like Petrina are learning how to advocate for their children’s education. They know that learning about the western world whilst keeping their culture and identity strong is the best way for the future generations. Petrina enjoys the Books in Homes program that is funded by BHP Billiton, which provides books to children and their families.
Education is good for kids. I read books to my daughter all the time because she likes it. She asks what the pictures mean and she loves the stories. – Petrina Jackman, Newman.
BHP Billiton Iron Ore provides support to KJ for a range of activities including environmental programs, culture and heritage programs and capacity building. As part of this support BHP Billiton Iron Ore, The Nature Conservancy and KJ are parties to the Martu Living Deserts Project.