Mabuiag Island

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Mabuiag Island
Mabuiag (Landsat).png
Landsat image of the Bellevue Islands, with Mabuiag in the centre
Geography
Location Arafura Sea
Archipelago Bellevue Islands
Total islands 11
Country
Australia
State Queensland
Local government area Shire of Torres
Demographics
Population 251 (as of 2006)
Ethnic groups Mabuiag people

Mabuiag (aka "Mabuyag", also formerly "Jervis Island") is an island in the Bellevue Islands, 100 km north of Thursday Island Queensland, Australia in the Napoleon Passage and Arnolds Passage of Torres Strait. It has other traditional names as well, such as Gumu (strictly speaking the name of the South-East part of Mabuiag).

This island is one of the Torres Strait Islands, originally named by Captain William Bligh, "Jervis Island", and so labelled on early English language maps.[1] The language of the island is Kala Lagaw Ya.

History[edit]

Archaeological excavations have shown that people arrived on Mabuiag at least 7300 years ago. During this period, Islanders were able to survive by fishing and hunting dugong.[2] The island continued to be occupied by small communities for the subsequent 5000 years, with pottery (usually associated with Melanesian peoples) found at two sites, Mui (East coast of Mabuiag) and Mask Cave (on adjacent islet, Pulu) dating from approximately 2000 years ago. The past 1000 years witnessed expansion in site use, including formation of multiple ethnographically-significant 'villages', including Goemu, Wagadagam and Dabangay. During the past 400–500 years large, highly structured mounds of dugong bone, as well as shell and stone arrangements provide evidence for emerging totemic divisions [3]

The "Footprints before me - Torres Strait Island Missions and Communities" webpage tells the following history of Mabuiag Island and the people living there[4]

"The Mabuiag people had a reputation for hostility to outsiders until their acceptance of Christianity in the early 1870s. In 1877 the mission moved to Bau where the water supply was better. Later, the missionaries persuaded the people to join them at Bau, which became the main settlement. By 1898, Mabuiag people were labouring on pearling luggers for wages, while many followed work to Thursday Island and further to the mainland. An official presence on Mabuiag began during the mid-1920s when Queensland Government posted teachers there. An Island Industries Board store opened in 1946"

Modern[edit]

On 5 February 2008, after working on the island for a couple of months, a 27-year-old nurse from New South Wales was attacked and raped in her sleeping quarters by a resident of the island; previously, she had frequently emailed her superiors on Thursday Island about the lack of adequate security on the island.[5] The incident prompted a review of security on the island and an inquiry into the sexual attack was launched by the Government of Queensland. In February 2009, more than a year after it had begun, the inquiry's findings had still not been released, while the alleged rapist, Dennis Kris, 23, was on bail before being due to be sentenced later that year.[6]

On Monday, 16 August 2010, Dennis William Kris pleaded guilty in the Cairns District Court to rape, unlawfully entering a dwelling to commit an indictable offence and unlawfully entering a dwelling at night with intent.[7] Judge William Everson sentenced Kris to six years' jail on the first count, three years on the second, one year on the third, to be served concurrently. Everson ordered, however, that as Kris had spent 785 days in pre-sentence custody, he could apply for immediate parole.[7] Kris's mother worked at the medical centre on Mabuiag. Kris stole keys to the centre and sleeping quarters from his mother's briefcase. He let himself into the facility late at night where he attacked the sleeping woman. He and several friends then stayed outside the facility until daylight, calling out to and mocking the victim. Kris had disabled the nurse's telephone while he was in the building so she could not call for assistance.[7] When the nurse called her Queensland Health superiors on Thursday Island the morning after the rape, she was told to "put it behind you and get back to work". The nurse left the island that day to seek medical help; Queensland Health immediately stopped her pay - it was only reinstated when the details were published in The Australian.[7]

In April 2010, a Magistrates' Court was opened on the island for the first time.[8] The court is part of the Torres Strait Court Circuit which is conducted on various islands in the Torres Strait on a rotational basis.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Queensland Place Names entry on Mabuiag Island Accessed 9 May 2008
  2. ^ Wright, D. and G. Jacobsen. 2013. Further radiocarbon dates from Dabangay, a mid- to late Holocene settlement site in western Torres Strait Australian Archaeology Association 76:79-83.
  3. ^ McNiven, I. J. and Bedingfield, A. C. 2008. Past and present marine mammal hunting rates and abundances: dugong (Dugong dugon) evidence from Dabangai bone mound, Torres Strait. Journal of Archaeological Science 35: 505–15.
  4. ^ Mabuiag Island mission history from State Library of Queensland website
  5. ^ Sarah Elks and Tony Koch (12 March 2008). "Security boost after island rape". The Australian (News Limited). Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  6. ^ "Findings delayed in nurse sex attack inquiry". ABC News (Australia) (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 13 Feb 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c d Tony Koch and Sarah Elks (18 August 2010). "Nurse slams rapist's jail sentence". The Australian (News Limited). Retrieved 29 December 2011. 
  8. ^ "Magistrate's Court opens at Mabuiag Island". Torres News. 3 April 2010. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 9°57′14″S 142°10′52″E / 9.954°S 142.181°E / -9.954; 142.181