Tjanpi Desert Weavers

The Tjanpi Desert Weavers is a non-profit initiative of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women's Council to support weavers from remote communities with culturally appropriate employment opportunities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.

Indigenous artists wearing their artworks

About the program

With Caritas Australia’s support, the Tjanpi Desert Weavers program assists more than 300 weavers from 28 communities. The weavers make baskets, beads and fibre art, which are sold locally and nationally, and displayed in art galleries around the country.

Jennifer Mitchell picking grass for basket weaving.

Labour force participation rates for First Australian people in remote areas are only 46 percent, with the rate of women's participation much lower than men's. This program provides much needed employment and economic empowerment opportunities for women in remote communities.

Capacity development and leadership skills of key Aboriginal weavers and staff are also promoted. The program facilitates a Professional Development program in advanced basket weaving and dyeing, as well as a Mentored Governance Training program where key Indigenous workers are trained and mentored in specific operational aspects of Tjanpi. This increases the direct employment and participation of Indigenous women into the operations of Tjanpi.

To illustrate how the program impacts local communities, in the 6 months to June 2010 the following results were reported:

  • 69 participants from 14 communities produced 1,806 works for purchase
  • The women sold 550 baskets and sculptures
  • 86 artists (in 4 locations) have been trained in governance
  • 27 opportunities for women to maintain their custodial responsibilities and engage in traditional activities/practices have been provided
  • 114 people have participated in workshops where women share culture and skills with the wider world
  • 8 exhibitions have taken place in galleries across Australia.

Program details

  • Issues: Women and development; Indigenous rights
  • Partner Agency: Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women's Council / Tjanpi Desert Weavers
  • Geographic location: Remote NPY communities NT, WA & SA
  • When established: Tjanpi was established in 1995. Caritas has provided support since February 2005