'The company was initiated in 1993 by an Aboriginal Steering Committee responding to demand from Aboriginal youth to take part in ongoing Youth Theatre programs. This demand was fuelled by one-off projects undertaken by the WA Theatre Company and Acting Out (Barking Gecko). Outreach community performance projects were undertaken using access, participation and equity as the guiding principles. There was a concurrent strong focus on staff training and the development of Indigenous artsworkers.
By the end of 1995 the company was Incorporated, the name Yirra Yaakin had been launched and the Board appointed David Milroy as the first Artistic Director. Pressure from the community meant work was no longer youth-specific, but community wide incorporating artforms other than theatre.
The growth and stability of this model led Aboriginal actors to increasingly ask Yirra Yaakin to respond to the success of Aboriginal Theatre presented by non-Aboriginal companies and in 1997, the first professional program was launched. Pressure on the company to continue to produce new work meant artist development became a priority, with writers' development programs, closer ties with Interstate colleagues (BlakStage) and a partnership with WAAPA all undertaken.
By 2001 the company was presenting more new work than any other company in WA, but felt its community roots were in danger. A significant new issue based stream was launched to tour professional work to communities Statewide for free. This KUTTA KUTTA stream would soon attract Health, Justice and Welfare interest, with significant funding often underpinning other artistic programs.
In late 2003 Sam Cook was appointed Executive Producer and has given the company a Global focus, taking authentic Indigenous experiences to six continents and forging relationships and affirming our voice within the greater arts community. The Education program has also flourished in the past four years, with Yirra Yaakin now the first point of Indigenous cultural contact for WA school children.
In 2008, Yirra Yaakin is Australia's leading Indigenous theatre company, winning awards for its Theatre, its Governance and its Partnerships. In fifteen years the company has delivered 36 new works, employed over 500 Aboriginal theatre workers and reached over 400,000 audience and participants. It has also kept true to a vision of Aboriginal control and self-determination, ensuring Aboriginal artists and community have a voice in all levels of creation and production.' Source: www.yirrayaakin.asn.au/ (Sighted 23/01/2009).