Community Justice in Napranum
As the sun sets over the community of Napranum another peaceful night closes in upon the picturesque community. The streets are quiet, families are together and the community spirit is contagious. It has been largely due to crime and disorder taking a dramatic decline since the introduction of the community justice groups. The justice groups initially established by the Elders were an avenue in which they were empowered to deal with community issues to deliver justice at a community level. The group was strengthened in 1999 when Rev Samoni Davui took oversight and which is now chaired by Maryanne Coconut a graduate of Macquarie University and representatives from support organisations such as Queensland Heath, the Council, PCYC, ACT for KIDS, Women's and Men's Groups, Department of Justice and the West Cape College.
The weekly meetings consist of no police, no lawyers and no magistrates - just a group of committed Indigenous women who meet weekly to discuss community issues and to put in place preventative strategies to avert people from turning to criminal behaviour. The group also put submissions into court to minimize the number of people being incarcerated. The group also meets at the local school in Weipa and makes a strong presence known. A key facet of the Justice Groups is its interaction with the visiting magistrate who flies into Napranum once a month.
The aim to prevent young people going to jail through a range of community measures such as enrolling in courses both schooling and adult education such as the Yalga-binbi Institute for Community Development in Townsville. When the wet season arrives activities are organized to fully occupy children in productive pursuits. A key factor in the justice group's success is its planning around strategies to support young people's parents in helping them rear their children away from negative influences. The Justice Group interacts with a lot of other organisations such as ACT for KIDS and Queensland Health. The Group also acts as a filtering mechanism which aligns appropriate Government Departments with the needs of the community. The Justice Group is a vivid demonstration of a community taking ownership of their rights and responsibilities and are a result of Indigenous people becoming empowered to be authors of their own development.
Tackling Diabetes in Napranum
The increasing prevalence of diabetes in Australia is well documented. The dramatic rise of new cases especially in young children has been attributed to a number of causes not the lease diet and a lack of exercise. Less documented is the devastating effect diabetes is having on Indigenous communities. Aboriginal and Islander people suffer a greatest prevalence of the diseases than the rest of Australia and it is proving to be an additional and substantial burden to effective community development. With many Indigenous people having to attend regional centers for treatment that cannot be provided in the community an increasing focus is being placed on community based initiatives to address the problem. But why is diabetes so prevalent in Indigenous communities? The answer is multifaceted but some things are glaringly obvious. The lack of fresh and nutritious foods in remote communities combined with a lack of a coordinated educational campaign has led to a dramatic rise in the debilitating disease. A major factor is that the costs of fresh and nutritious foods in Indigenous communities are substantially higher than the rest of Australia. The costs associated with freighting fresh food to remote communities add a substantial margin to the retail price which many Indigenous people can ill afford. One community initiative that has been implemented by the local council has been the Napranum Community Farm that aims to supply locals with fresh fruits, vegetables and eggs at subsidized prices. The council initiated project has been outsourced to Community Enterprises Australia (CEA) who manages the farm and provide training through TAFE to local people interested in training in a range of farm management skills, including first aid, horticulture to small engine repair. Presently there are 16 men from Napranum working on the farm while gaining valuable ‘on the job' training through TAFE. The farm which is open every day till 3pm produces a wide rage of produce including tomatoes, lemons, beans, cucumbers, watermelon to more exotic produce such as chillis and cassava. The Apunipima Health Council in its efforts to promote healthy eating provides people with vouchers that enable the purchase of fresh fruit and vegetables without the need for cash. The program has been very successful with the farm becoming a staple source of fresh healthy food for local residents even for those residing in Weipa. The farm initiative is an avid example of an Indigenous community taking ownership for the health of its residents by growing its own produce while providing valuable training. In doing so it is playing an important role in abating the cases of diabetes while promoting better health.