“The relationships that we developed with Aboriginal people in Maningrida are an enduring source of pleasure and richness in our lives.”Helen Bond-Sharp, 2012.
Helen was born in Broken Hill, spent her secondary education as a boarder at Our Lady of Mercy College in Goulburn, NSW and did her teacher training at Wagga Wagga.
In the early 1970s she spent a few years teaching in Sydney and then went travelling around the world. She stayed in Dubai for 12 months and established the Jumeirah English Speaking School which operated out of a bungalow on the edge of the desert.
On returning to Australia she applied for a teaching position in the Northern Territory and shortly after began her NT service in the Special Unit at Rapid Creek Primary School in Darwin.
Helen’s involvement in the teachers’ union opened her eyes to teaching ‘out bush’. She became aware that 35% of the student population of the Territory lived in Aboriginal communities. After four years in Darwin she won a position in the Arnhem Land community of Maningrida.
Helen stayed in Maningrida for the next 23 years. She met her partner, David Bond there. They often went fishing on the weekends, enjoying the coastal environment and the company of Aboriginal traditional owners. But it wasn’t all scenic beauty and picnics. Far from it. Poverty and disadvantage sorely affected the lives of Aboriginal people.
A family picnic in the Island of Kabalko.
This book is a social history.....
beginning with evidence of occupation by the traditional owners around 6,000 years ago. It traces the explorations of the first foreign visitors who were Makassans from present-day Sulawesi, then the European sailors, surveyors and patrol officers. Aboriginal people engaged openly with visitors but conflicts did occur and lives were lost.
A permanent settlement was established by Government in 1957 in an attempt to repatriate Aboriginal people who were living in squalid conditions in Darwin. The new community of Maningrida grew rapidly under an assimilationist banner, aiming to introduce tribal Aboriginal people to western notions of work, education and health practices. During the 1960s and 70s there were several attempts to establish commercial industries. With the exception of Aboriginal art, all industries failed. When the assimilationist policy was dumped by the Whitlam government in December 1972 serious tensions developed in the community around the new policy of Aboriginal self-determination. This policy enabled the growth of the outstation movement. Many groups of Aboriginal people abandoned the new township and returned to their traditional country.
The campaign by Labor Party supporters to get Aboriginal people enrolled and the subsequent Northern Territory election in 1977 created a great deal of animosity between factions of non-Aboriginal (Balanda) people in the community.
Maningrida. A History of the Aboriginal Township in Arnhem Land
Please feel free to contact Helen via the form below if you have any queries about the book.