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Ngurra Kujungka: Bringing Martu youth together through sport and recreation

Cover image: taken during the January 2020 Martu School Holiday Program delivered by Ngurra Kujungka and the Shire of East Pilbara.

Ngurra Kujungka means “all coming together in one place”. It is a not-for-profit community driven association which uses sport and recreation as a means of bringing Martu youth together across the Western Desert (including Newman and Parnpajinya) and help engage them in school and the broader community.

Ngurra Kujungka run an annual Martu Youth Festival which provides the Martu with competition and pathway opportunities in football, softball and basketball, as well as a Martu school holiday program, Recreation Officer employment and training, community visits by State Sporting Associations and Western Desert Shield Football and softball events in Perth. 

It is expanding its presence in Newman from this week with its two Martu recreation officers working with the Shire of East Pilbara on regular sport activities at the Newman Youth Centre.

COVID-19 travel restrictions have curtailed its work in the Western Desert but Ngurra Kujungka usually serves eight remote communities with a visiting program of sporting activities. Because the communities are in a declared biosecurity region most travel is currently restricted. During these restrictions Ngurra Kujungka has trained local Martu representatives in each of the communities to ensure the sports program continues in a COVID safe way.

Ngurra Kujungka has been operating in the Pilbara and Western Desert since 2012, and is now focusing on delivering a variety of sports, along with regular visits by representatives from football, softball, basketball and athletics. Each of the sports is linked to pathway programs run by State sporting organisations that enable talented young people to progress in their chosen sport. The sports program is complemented by activities promoting health and hygiene, arts and culture.

Ngurra Kujungka program manager Mike McMonigal says “Employing Martu Recreation Officer’s in Newman provide an opportunity for the Martu youth to be engaged in a community sports program who may otherwise be at risk of getting involved in antisocial behaviour. There is clear evidence of the success of the strategy with kids who get involved in Ngurra Kujungka’s school holiday activities being subsequently more likely to attend school”.

Also on school holiday program featuring Aaron Booth, one of Ngurra Kujungka Martu Recreation Officers based in Newman.