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SeaLink proudly connects to Country with first Knowledge Water contract

Media Release - August 2021

The small homeland community of Mandjawuy in East Arnhem Land at the top of the Northern Territory, home to the Yolngu people, is keeping traditional culture alive and taking control of their future by producing Knowledge Water, through the establishment of the Arnhem Beverage Company.

SeaLink Travel Group is proud to sign Arnhem Beverage Company’s first contract for Knowledge Water, purchasing the very first pallet and helping to support local jobs and education, so the community can remain independent.

Knowledge Water will be available for purchase on SeaLink’s Northern Territory ferry services to Mandorah and the Tiwi Islands, and Group CEO Clint Feuerherdt said that Knowledge Water would also be provided to guests on SeaLink’s Tiwi Islands tours.

“SeaLink’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) provides a pathway to advance reconciliation, but we passionately believe it is the actions we take to connect authentically that make a lasting impact, and demonstrate our commitment to the communities we service,” he said.

Arnhem Beverage Company CEO, Rod Baker, said proceeds from sales would help fund the Mandjawuy Homeland school, train local Yolngu teachers and create local jobs.

“Funding for remote education is always a challenge and the future of our school is uncertain. Our school is bicultural which means our kids are taught English in the context of our traditional knowledge. It keeps our culture and our identity alive. We also need jobs on our homeland, so we can be strong and independent.

Mandjawuy community leader and board member, Rurruwiliny Ngurruwutthun said “We want to keep our culture alive here in Mandjawuy. And we want to take control of our own future. That is why we decided to build this Knowledge Water business,” she said.

Mr Feuerherdt added “We have a responsibility to carry passengers safely to and from the mainland, and across towns and cities, but we also have a responsibility to protect, nurture and respectfully support the communities we operate in.

“Purchasing Knowledge Water is a simple step for us, but it’s a move that has a significant and positive impact on the local community and we are proud to be part of that.”

SeaLink Northern Territory General Manager, Angela Piper said “SeaLink actively seeks ways to support local Aboriginal-owned businesses and we are proud that we have increased our expenditure in this area year on year in the Northern Territory, mainly on the Tiwi Islands and Groote Eylandt through our tourism and transport operations.

“Every year, we carry large numbers of tourists who are interested in Aboriginal culture and increasingly seeking to engage and participate in reconciliation. Stocking Knowledge Water is a small way for SeaLink and our customers to make a difference for the children in Mandjawuy,” she said.

SeaLink Travel Group has also recently launched new ferries with local language names, undertaken in consultation with Traditional Owners in each region, including the Parrabah in Tasmania, and currently have two public buses operating in the Transport for NSW network wrapped with Gamilario/Wiradjuri man Allan McKenzie’s “Vibrations of Country” artwork.

“We support, sponsor and donate to many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island community initiatives, and as Australia’s largest integrated marine tourism and public transport operator - we’re dedicated to driving real awareness and change in the reconciliation movement,” said Mr Feuerherdt.