Bryan and Kathy Massey arrived on Groote Eylandt as missionaries nearly 40 years ago. They knew very little about Aboriginal culture or what lay ahead. In the years that followed, Bryan and Kathy developed a trusting, close partnership with the Aboriginal community of Angurugu. They introduced a program to counteract alcohol and substance misuse, a Meals on Wheels program, and disability services. Their greatest success was fulfilling the community’s long-term wish to have an aged care facility, which was built in the shape of the Angurugu totem, a swordfish, to signify community dreams and commitment. Bryan and Kathy’s devotion to Indigenous welfare has also extended beyond their immediate community. For many years Bryan has been a board member on the Council on Aboriginal Alcohol Prevention, and in 1997 both Bryan and Kathy travelled to Katherine as part of flood relief efforts.
The couple have also raised awareness about Machado Joseph Disease, a fatal nerve wasting condition, affecting a significant number of the Angurugu community and communities in West Arnhem Land. As a long line of missionaries and other non-Indigenous staff have come and gone over the years, Bryan and Kathy have remained, committed to assisting the community they have grown to love so deeply.