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Last week, the ALC’s longstanding Chair, Tony Wurramarrba AO, requested the ALC Board to exercise its power under section 30(6) of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 to elect a new Chair of the ALC. Tony indicated that, upon the election of a new Chair, he would also step down as a member of the ALC Board.

At its meeting held on Tuesday, 28th May 2024, the ALC Board elected Ms Cherelle Wurrawilya as its new Chair. The election was conducted by way of a secret ballot in accordance with the ALC’s method of choice and observed by a NIAA representative.

Cherelle has served as a member of the ALC Board since 2019, holding many prominent roles including as a member of the ALC’s Audit and Finance Committees, Chair of the Anindilyakwa Housing Aboriginal Corporation, and a director of Aboriginal Housing NT. Cherelle has also worked as a Community Housing Officer on Groote Eylandt for many years, being responsible for conducting inspections of houses, assisting with the tenancy management services such as rent payments and tenancy agreements, and maintenance issues.

The ALC warmly congratulates Cherelle on her historic appointment, and looks forward to her stewardship as the ALC continues to carry out it’s statutory functions and obligations on behalf of the Anindilyakwa Traditional Owners.
The ALC also wishes to commemorate Tony’s enduring legacy of leadership, service, and advocacy for the betterment of the ALC Region and the Northern Territory more broadly. In particular, Tony has played significant roles in relation to numerous historic events and milestones, including the Groote Archipelago Local Decision-Making Agreement, the Northern Territory Aboriginal Investment Corporation, the Aboriginal Sea Company, the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the Barunga Agreement, the Groote Eylandt Regional Partnership Agreement, the former ABA Advisory Committee, and the return of the Groote Eylandt Township Lease to Community Control, to name only a few.

Quotes attributable to Cherelle Wurrawilya:
“I am deeply honoured to be elected as the first woman Chair of the Anindilyakwa Land Council. I want to thank Tony for his significant contributions to the ALC over three decades of service. There is still lots of important work to be done, and with the support of the Board and CEO, I look forward to carrying on Tony’s legacy and working together as one people to reclaim our self-determination and set up the Traditional Owners for a bright and sustainable future.”

Quotes attributable to Mark Hewitt, CEO:
“The election of Cherelle is thoroughly deserved, and particularly historic, being the first woman elected as Chair of the ALC, and indeed (to our knowledge), of any Northern Territory Aboriginal Land Council since the inception of the Land Rights Act some 50 years ago. Cherelle is a strong voice and a highly respected Anindilyakwa leader, who has proven her leadership and influence across several key organisations, most notably as Chair of the Anindilyakwa Housing Aboriginal Corporation and as a director of Aboriginal Housing NT.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank and recognise Tony for his significant leadership, support, and counsel to the ALC and myself. Tony’s record speaks for itself, and without a doubt, he has been one of the foremost Indigenous leaders of his generation. I wish Tony all the very best as he begins his transition into a much-deserved retirement, and his unwavering commitment to establishing a prosperous and financially stable future for the Traditional Owners beyond the GEMCO mine will have a lasting impact for years to come.”

Quotes attributable to Tony Wurramarrba:
“Having served on the ALC Board for 30 years, including two decades as Chairman, I feel the time is right for me to be replaced as the Chair, hand over the reins, and focus on my health and family.
I have witnessed the ALC grow, evolve, and undergo enormous change since its inception in 1991, and it has been an absolute privilege to serve my community during this period.
I am extremely proud of the extraordinary growth and achievements of the ALC in serving, supporting, and representing the interests of the Traditional Owners. Most importantly, I am extremely proud of the tireless efforts of the Board, my CEO, my staff, and many others to establish solid foundations for a culturally strong, locally-led and financially stable future for the Traditional Owners beyond the life of the GEMCO mine, in a way that is being led and championed by them.
The ALC remains in good hands, and I wish Cherelle, the Board Members and Staff all the very best for the future.”