In the decades prior to 1970, the Yolngu people in the East Arnhem region were congregated in various missions, the most easterly of which was Yirrkala on the Gove Peninsula.

In April 1972, senior Yolngu leaders and their extended families began moving away from the Yirrkala mission and the expanding mining town, back to their traditional clan land around Arnhem Land.

The homelands movement was a Yolngu initiative, instigated before any government support for such movements. Yolngu cleared land for airstrips and built their own houses using timber from their land, with the help of Ngapaki (non-Indigenous people) from the Mission.

The clan elders aspired to determine their own future, conduct their affair according to Yolngu law and live and raise their children on their traditional land. Their vision was to develop sustainable, self-sufficient homelands for themselves, their families, and future generations. That vision is still strong and relevant today.

In 1985, Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation (LHAC or ‘Laynha’) was established to assist in supporting these communities.

Laynha today

Today, Laynha services some 30 homeland communities with a population of approximately 1100 Yolngu residents across the region, and approximately 300 regular visitors.

It is a member based association of the Yolngu, with no statutory or other powers.

Laynha supports homeland communities through:

The homelands are on Aboriginal land held as inalienable freehold title by the Arnhem Land Aboriginal Lands Trust established under the Commonwealth’s Aboriginal Land Rights Act (Northern Territory) 1976.

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