Nyaliga Aboriginal Water and Energy Investigation


Project Background

The Ngarinjin People have family connections to the Karunjie land that spans tens of thousands of years. After colonisation, the land was claimed by settlers, with the first lease from the Crown given to the Sadler family in 1926. The land was under lease through the Soldier Settlers Scheme until 1960, where it has continued to be managed as pastoral land. In 1999 the Indigenous Land Corporation bought the land, and it is currently in the process of divesting the land back to the Ngarinjin People, who are the traditional owners. The site currently contains infrastructure and assets of varying condition including an untreated bore and small diesel generator.

The Ngarinjin People are in the process of reconnecting with country and are developing long term plans for the development of their land at Karunjie, in the eastern Kimberly region of Western Australia. The community would like to establish a ranger station, community accommodation near the homestead, tourism opportunities, a meatworks and a mechanic.

Community Housing Limited (CHL) approached EWB on behalf of Nyaliga Aboriginal Corporation. Separately Utility360 approached CHL to pilot a project that aims to provide functional, reliable and safe off-grid drinking water and electrical energy generation infrastructure. A project was then brokered between the Nyaliga Aboriginal Corporation and Arup.

Project Overview

CHL and Arup are working with the Nyaliga Aboriginal Corporation and Ngarinjin People to undertake a water and energy assessment.

Project Outcomes and Benefits

This project will support the community to develop their land. This will enable the community to live on, manage, share and further understand their traditional lands, and create economic opportunities. The water and energy assessment developed through this project will provide the community with an understanding of existing water and power supply and distribution systems. It will also provide the community with options for the provision of reliable and safe off grid drinking water and electrical energy generation to meet their development needs. The project findings will also be valuable to the Nyaliga Aboriginal Corporation in leveraging support and funding for development of the site.

Project partners

Nyaliga Aboriginal Corporation

Nyaliga Aboriginal Corporation was established in 2007, to represent the interests of the Ngarinjin People and their home country on Karunjie, 160kms south‐west of Wyndham in Western Australia. Nyaligan land is part of the Wanjina Wungurr Wilinggin Native Title Determined Area. The Nyaliga Aboriginal Corporation assist the community to realise their vision for their land, assist with customary management of the land, support natural and cultural resource management planning, conserve the knowledge of traditional owners, advance education and support activities that generate economic benefits for the Community and Corporation.

Community Housing Limited (CHL)

 CHL is a not-for-profit group which develops and provides affordable housing solutions for vulnerable and low to moderate income people. This includes the provision of both “social” and “affordable” housing. Since its formation in 1993, CHL has grown into the largest community housing provider in Australia with over 6,300 properties serviced by 31 offices, establishing CHL as the first national Community Housing Provider capable of leveraging scale and providing housing in all six Australian states.

CHL is a Tier 1 registered community housing provider under the National Regulatory System for Community Housing and a full Housing Pathways provider. CHL has been able to balance this growth with significant expansion with strong customer services. CHL provides quality affordable housing to a range of clients and communities.

CHL has a long and proud history of working with Indigenous communities to deliver housing in a culturally appropriate way. CHL is Australia’s second largest non-government manager of Aboriginal rental housing with 17% of its Australian properties, around 1,000 rental homes, tenanted by people with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background.

CHL is committed to community development with dedicated staff who focus on facilitating community development projects which have been generated and are led by community. CHL’s approach is based on identifying the strengths, knowledge, and capability within communities and developing innovative ideas to create sustainable, resilient, communities. CHL has adopted an Aboriginal Community Strategy, and a Community Development Framework to ensure best practice.


Arup is an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists, working across every aspect of today’s built environment. Arup has always recognised that great design includes a responsibility to the future. Our expertise in the built environment enables us to play a positive role in communities and support important social causes. Arup works in partnership with many leading organisations in the public and private sector, shaping the response to some of the world’s biggest challenges.

Arup’s partnership with EWB since 2009 is based on a mutual interest in sustainable development, environmental responsibility and social purpose. We connect communities in need, to the engineering skills and expertise they require, to improve their quality of life.


Utility360 is a new social enterprise, established as a joint venture between EWB Australia and the Wise Foundation. It’s purpose is to provide integrated utilities such as potable water supply and renewable energy within a social business paradigm. Utility360 is currently undertaking a pilot project under the brand “Bee Lafaek” (Crocodile Water) in Timor Leste. Utility360 are planning a series of pilot projects in Northern Australia in small communities to test the innovative technology and develop the social business model, including local training and employment in the installation and maintenance of the systems.

Project Update

In March 2018 CHL’s Community Development Project Manager Rachel Lattimore facilitated Arup visits to community. Jack Clarke and Simon Schutz from Arup visited the site to undertake an asset condition assessment of water and power assets, meet the community and understand their development aspirations. Jack and Simon spent two days on country with Traditional Owners, the managers of the cattle station and Rachel, and attended Nyaliga’s March Board Meeting to discuss Nyaliga’s vision for their home country..

The site visit was invaluable in developing an understanding of community needs and existing assets. The Arup team has identified that there is significant opportunity to explore low water and energy options instead of the status quo, which will reduce future ongoing financial burden on the community.

Nyaliga Aboriginal Corporation at Karunjie Station are fortunate to have natural resources they can use sustainably to underpin their development aspirations.  Developing Karunjie using appropriate low energy and water designs, materials and techniques will help Nyaliga reduce ongoing utility costs so they can fund other initiatives on country.”