Marra Worra Worra was established in the late 1970s by the people of the Fitzroy Valley.
In 1969, the introduction of the Pastoral Award saw more than a thousand Aboriginal people displaced from surrounding cattle stations and forced to live in atrocious living circumstances on the fringes of Fitzroy Crossing - refugees in their own country.
To address this situation the leaders of the five surrounding tribes began meeting at the banks of the Fitzroy River with the goal of working together to form a stronger voice to talk to government.
By 1978 the meetings had become institutionalised under the name of this meeting place; Marra Worra Worra.
The collaboration of the 5 language groups within Fitzroy Crossing led to efforts to obtain tenure to our traditional lands, address the social issues that had arisen throughout a century of oppression and a decade of upheaval, and to begin developing sustainable communities.
Marra Worra Worra officially became incorporated in 1981, but it was not until late 1984 that recurrent funding for staff positions and operations was received from the then Department of Aboriginal Affairs. To that time, Marra Worra Worra relied entirely on bookkeeping fees and contributions from member communities, supplemented at times by training subsidies and grants from aid organisations like the Freedom from Hunger Campaign. From 1985 until 1999, income was primarily derived from Federal Government grants.
In 1997, ATSIC, the primary funding source for Marra Worra Worra changed its funding priorities and guidelines and the functions of Marra Worra Worra no longer met the funding guidelines. From 1997 till 2004, Marra Worra Worra functioned mostly on a fee for service basis, with a small amount of government funding to provide municipal services to a small number of communities.
In 2004, with the devolution of ATSIC powers to mainstream government bodies, Marra Worra Worra again became nearly fully funded from government sources to provide a wide variety of programs to twenty-six communities. These programs include Community Development and Employment Program (CDEP), Municipal Services and Housing Management.
CDEP continued successfully in the Fitzroy Valley for over twenty-five years. Housing Management still remains within Marra Worra Worra and is one of our biggest programs. Municipal Services has been run through KRSP since 2000, which Marra Worra Worra is a 50% owner.
The government has changed CDEP to RJCP and currently it is known as CDP. These changes, in terms of program focus, have not supported self-determination efforts for Aboriginal people in the Fitzroy Valley or Australia wide, as it is now known.
Office Of Registrar Of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC)
Marra Worra Worra is registered under the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC). ORIC administers the Corporations Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act (CATSI Act) 2006 and this Act guides how Indigenous corporations run.
During its lifetime Marra Worra Worra has been a driving force in helping Aboriginal people return to their country to live in independent communities. This is reflected in the ever increasing numbers of communities serviced by Marra Worra Worra over the years, from the original seven, that became seven in 1978, twenty by 1984, thirty five by 1992 and over forty by 2012. We’ve seen our communities grow and we have endured many changes to government and policy.
What sets us apart from other Aboriginal Service providers is that we continue to develop diversified income streams so that we support our independence. This allows us to advocate on behalf of our members for better outcomes on housing and employment policies.