When a young man committed suicide in 2005, in the remote community of Lajamanu, local Warlpiri elders said ‘Enough is enough’. Decades of western medical intervention have failed to stop the steady increase in indigenous suicides and, in 2005, Lajamanu’s elders took matters into their own hands. With help from friends, Lajamanu’s elders established Milpirri festival to spread the traditional idea of ‘Kurdiji’ among their young people and to foster a sense of belonging. They began to fight for every single young indigenous life in their community. Despite steadily increasing suicide rates across Aboriginal Australia over the past decade, there hasn’t been a suicide in Lajamanu since 2005.
Now those same elders want to bring Kurdiji into the digital age, with a community created app based on stories, ceremonies and law. They want to fight for all indigenous lives, not just those in remote or traditional communities. The ideas of Kurdiji belong to an initiation ceremony of the same name. For most of Aboriginal history these ideas were only accessible through Kurdiji ceremony or directly from elders in community. Warlpiri people are changing their laws, giving wide public access to these ideas for the purpose of saving lives.
The creation of the Kurdiji 1.0 app represents a turning point in Aboriginal Australia and, we hope, will result in similar projects being launched in the future.