The Titjikala story

With the Notice of Approval of the draft Tapatjataka Community Government Scheme in the Northern Territory Gazette in October last year, the story of the Titjikala community located on the western edge of the Simpson desert entered a new phase.

Tapatjataka is the red backed eagle which flies over the western edge of the Simpson desert where, just a century ago, a pastoral station provided work for a small number of aboriginal families who lived around the perimeter of the station and hunted nearby. With only salty water available, women needed to travel for three hours to obtain water supplies.

Since that time much has changed. In 1972, the small community sought independence from the station and established itself as the Titjikala Social Club Inc. It received funding from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs being administered through the local Lutheran Resource Centre at Alice Springs.

The arrival of schooling in the form of a 'silver bullet' caravan, saw negotiations with the then Station owners. This resulted in the donation of 201 hectares to the group as a community living area in May 1979, the same time as a permanent school was established.

The area was converted to freehold title in 1987, since which time, the community has gone from strength to strength. Changes since then have included establishing a permanent power supply, reliable borefield, clinic and Women's Centre.

Development of tourist facilities and the setting up of a local building team, the success of which has seen the idea spread to other communities, indicate the viability and cohesion of the community. The goal of Titjikala has always been to be among the best in Central Australia, meeting current needs and providing future directions well into the 21st century.

An establishment grant will now see much needed extensions to existing offices providing Council with meeting and training rooms. Participation in the RAMP scheme is being sought to further enhance local management skills.

Titjikala resident, Phillip Wiyuka was recently elected to the Aptula ATSIC Regional Council underlining the community's determination to participate and be represented in the broader community.

Titjikala represents a model of patience and achievement, an example of how 185 people of Arrente, Pitjantjatjara and Luritja descent can live harmoniously together in the late 20th century while preserving their culture and identity.