Northern Land Council

The Northern Land Council (NLC) is an independent statutory authority of the Commonwealth that assists Aboriginal people to acquire and manage their land in the Top End of the Northern Territory, which supports 30,000 Aboriginal people. Land councils help to empower Aboriginal voices and give Aboriginal stakeholders a platform to share their ideas and thoughts on what happens with and on their land, and the effect it may have on the rest of their community. 

bellette were contracted by NLC to create a series of weatherproof outdoor signs and a brochure to be used and displayed on Malak Malak country, around the Indigenous community of Wooliana. The intention of these materials was to advise visitors to the area on how to treat the land with respect, providing a history of the cultural significance of the Daly River and educating about Malak Malak people and culture. 

This area is often visited for fishing, so the Traditional Owners decided to fund a community development project of this nature so their culture and land could be preserved and respected whilst people fished. NLC were the facilitators of this project, however, we worked more closely with the Malak Malak Traditional Owners through the development process.

We began the project in consultation with the Malak Malak Traditional Owners, coordinating a meeting on country to gather everyone’s ideas. A bus collected Traditional Owners who lived in the Darwin area, and together we made our way out to Wooliana. This was necessary so that key respected elders who were unable to travel into Darwin could be included in the conversations. It was also important for these decisions to be made on country. We discussed the core information, messaging and visual elements to be included and came to a decision from which we could create a concept.

Our content writer worked in collaboration with one of the Malak Malak rangers to develop the words for the signage and brochure and our designer developed some visual concepts to pair with it. Once the concepts were complete, our team travelled back to Wooliana to present the designs to the Traditional Owners for feedback, allowing enough time for each key person to see the designs and review them appropriately.

This design process was a unique and special opportunity to work collaboratively with a variety of stakeholders to create an end product that we and our client are both proud of. The relationship we were able to form with the Traditional Owners was invaluable to the project as good communication was an integral element to its success. We also got to know the Wooliana rangers, who assisted with communication in between meetings and installed the completed signage in the community. 

The Malak Malak Traditional Owners are incredibly proud of the final product and enjoy seeing work they helped to create displayed around their land. It was a great opportunity for the Malak Malak community to document their thousands of years old intellectual property that has been passed down from generation to generation to help teach others about their culture and way of life. We received lovely feedback from NLC about this project.