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Ready for Djarma: Growing Employment in Remote Northern Territory Communities

Swinburne University of Technology and the Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation

Written by Jamey McIntyre and Terry McEvoy
July 2017

About the Programme

The programme commenced in 2014, and has now been operating for 4 years.Initially a pilot training package with 28 students, the Growing Employment in Remote Northern Territory Communities – known as “Ready for Djarma” – now has over over 400 participants in the communities of Milingimbi, Ramingining and Galiwin’ku.

Established by Swinburne University of Technology and the Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation (ALPA) the program aims to develop the trade skills of local Aboriginal people, addressing Indigenous disadvantage through training and employment. With the focus originally on Milingimbi, Ramingining and Galiwin’ku communities, the program aims to create ‘Ready to Djama’ (ready to work) locals. Work that once relied heavily on fly-in and fly-out contractors can now be completed by locals with the benefit of paid employment in the local communities.

Growing Employment in Northern Territory Communities
Map showing Arnhem Land Communities


The programme has resulted in the highest employment outcomes of any trade training undertaken in these NT communities for many years, with approximately 82% of participants going on to have worked in either full-time or part-time employment. The importance of this program was recognised in 2015 when Cyclones Nathan and Lam hit the remote communities of Milingimbi and Ramingining. The now skilled local workforce was available to undertake emergency repairs, accelerating the return to normal life in the community.

Since winning the 2016 BHERT Award for Best Community Engagement

National recognition via the BHERT Award for Best Community Engagement in 2016 has provided further impetus to growth of the programme. A 2-year contract has recently been signed with the Northern Territory Government to extend the work being done in Galiwin’ku and to further the opportunities for this extremely remote community.

This contract will see partnerships formed with local builders and construction companies to provide onsite training for students to ensure that they are ‘Ready for Djarma’. Trainees will build new infrastructure in the region including a new medical centre and police station. In addition to this training 4 traditional apprenticeships will provided, allowing students the opportunity to further develop their skills and qualifications.

In 2015 Swinburne University, ALPA and the NT Department of Business agreed to deliver a fully-accredited program: Certificate III in Remote Area Building Repairs and Maintenance. In 2017 the programme expects to offer the first person to successfully complete this course the opportunity to complete a Certificate IV in TAE at Swinburne University of Technology.

In conjunction with the programme the NT government initiative “Room to Breathe” also aims to provide work for local Ramingining communities. Supporting an initiative to extend existing dwellings to accommodate larger family groups, Swinburne Trades will be working with local construction company BUKMAK to provide onsite training for their Indigenous workforce during this program.

Ramingining Community Participants
Class of Ramingining 2016 with Professor Linda Kristjanson AO, Vice-Chancellor and President, Swinburne University of Technology



In 2018 the Ready for Djarma programme will be launched in Western Australia and Queensland.

For more information about the programme, go to

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