Aurukun, Queensland

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Aurukun
Queensland
Aurukun.JPG
2014
Aurukun is located in Queensland
Aurukun
Aurukun
Location in Queensland
Coordinates 13°21′23″S 141°43′37″E / 13.35639°S 141.72694°E / -13.35639; 141.72694Coordinates: 13°21′23″S 141°43′37″E / 13.35639°S 141.72694°E / -13.35639; 141.72694
Population 1,295 (2011 census)[1]
Postcode(s) 4871
Location
  • 2,461 km (1,529 mi) NW of Brisbane
  • 802 km (498 mi) NW of Cairns
  • 174 km (108 mi) S of Weipa
LGA(s) Shire of Aurukun
State electorate(s) Cook
Federal Division(s) Leichhardt

Aurukun /ærəˈkn/[2] is a town and locality in the Shire of Aurukun in Far North Queensland, Australia. It is situated approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) south of Weipa. The town faces west to the Gulf of Carpentaria, and during the wet season, roads are impassable. It is an Indigenous community.

In March 2008, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that standards of justice, education and child safety had collapsed in Aurukun,[3] and that the local community justice group had called for children to be removed from the town for their own safety and wellbeing.

The area is rich in bauxite.

Demographics[edit]

At the 2011 census, Aurukun had a population of 1,295, including 1,193 Indigenous people,[1] up from a total population of 1,043 in 2006.[4] The traditional language is predominantly Wik Mungkan with a mixture of other dialects. English is taught in the school. Aurukun has a plethora of clan and tribal names. There are some 50 to 60 families from five major clan groups,[5] which are split into two factions — the "top end" and "bottom end".[6] Violent conflict between the two groups creates problems in the community on a regular basis.

History[edit]

The first recorded contact between Europeans and Aboriginals was near Aurukun on the Janszoon voyage of 1605-6.[7]

Aurukun sawmill, ~1950

The Aurukun Mission (known then as the Archer River Mission Station) was established on 4 August 1904 for the Presbyterian Church of Australia by the Reverend Arthur and Mrs Mary Richter, two Moravian missionaries and managed under the provisions of the Queensland Aborigines Act. (Several of the current residents were taught by these missionaries and remember them well.) Aboriginal people were relocated from a large surrounding area, many against their will, to the mission settlement. Aurukun was "ruled" for 40 years by Reverend William Mackenzie - as the missions Chief Protector for the Aboriginal Protection Board. The town also had a sawmill, butcher and bakery.[8] Today[when?] there is only a general store.

Aurukun Post Office opened on 1 July 1972.[9] In 1978, the Queensland government decided to take over control of both the Aurukun and Mornington Island Reserves. Both communities were against this and protested seeking the help of the Federal government.

After lengthy negotiations, legislation for self-management of the two reserves was introduced into federal parliament and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Reserves and Communities Self Management) Act was passed on 7 April 1978.

Further negotiations took place between State and Federal Ministers and on 22 May 1978, the Local Government (Aboriginal Lands) Act came into force giving a 50-year lease to the Shire of Aurukun to be trustee for the land within the boundaries. Aurukun and Mornington Shire remain the only Aboriginal communities in Queensland constituted as local authorities.

With the coming of the missionaries, children were confined to dormitories to isolate them from the influence of their people. However, many people remained outside the mission up until the 1950s, ensuring the culture remained strong.

In 1975, the community was placed under direct State government control. In 1978, the Aurukun people were given a 50-year lease on their land under the administration of the shire clerk and an elected Aboriginal Council.

Following the Wik case the land has reverted to Native Title held by the Wik people. The focal area of the Wik lies between the Archer and Edward Rivers of Western Cape York Peninsula and inland to Coen. Most Wik people still live in this triangle.

In 2007, nine Aurukun males received probation and other light sentences after being found guilty of raping a ten-year-old girl.[10][11] The mild sentences received international condemnation[citation needed] and were the catalyst for a review of sexual abuse sentencing in Queensland Indigenous communities.[12]

Education[edit]

Aurukun has a primary school which is operated by Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy (CYAAA) in a unique partnership with Education Queensland. The school caters for students from pre-prep to year 7. Classroom instruction is dedicated to teaching mainstream curriculum in English literacy and numeracy using Direct Instruction.[13] The Direct Instruction method focuses on individual student outcomes, repetition and weekly tests with the aim to ensure students are mastering literacy and numeracy basics.[14] Students are also taught a comprehensive Indigenous culture and language program which aims to give children fluency in their own cultures and enjoy the best of both worlds. The school provides an extended school day which involves artistic, musical and sports programs (in partnership with national bodies) which aims to give children increased confidence and socially prepare them for moving between homelands, work and study in the wider world.

In 2008, one in three children were not enrolled for primary school.[15] Following welfare reform trials introduced in July 2008, school attendance had risen from an average of 37 per cent to 63 per cent in September 2009.[16]

Infrastructure[edit]

Health[edit]

The Aurukun Primary Health Care Centre is run by Queensland Health, with five Remote Area Nurses based permanently in Aurukun. RFDS doctors conduct clinics three days each week, with other visiting specialists regularly conducting outreach clinics. Emergencies are flown to Cairns by the RFDS. The clinic is open 8-5 365 days a year, with nurses covering after hours for emergencies.

There is now no longer a veterinary presence at Aurukun, with Dr Michael Hindmarsh leaving the "Aurukun Dog Program" late 2007.

Utilities[edit]

Electricity is supplied by Ergon (formerly FNQEB) through three generators supplying 240 volts 24 hours a day. There are frequent power surges and interruptions.

The Water supply for Aurukun is drawn from five bores located across the town.[17] From October 2014, fluoride was introduced to the Aurukun water supply, following public consultation.[18]

A sewer system is in place in the community. In 2011 and 2012, the Aurukun water and sewerage services were upgraded extensively, including to replace water mains, upgrade bore facilities and install new sewerage lines.[19]

In 2007, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that few people in Aurukun had phones.[20] The community also has no ADSL broadband service and receives all communications services via radio transmission towers.[21]

Security[edit]

Aurukun is one of the most closely monitored communities in Australia. In mid-2008 34 security cameras were installed throughout the community after consultation with the Aurukun Shire Council. The cameras cover almost all areas of the township and are constantly monitored from Cairns. The cameras cost $12,000 a month to operate, which is a significant reduction from the $60,000 a month that was previously paid to a private security company to patrol the community.[22]

Arts and recreation[edit]

The Wik and Kugu Art Centre in Aukurun opened in 1987,[23] making it the oldest established art centre on Cape York Peninsula.[24] The Centre has about 30 members, and artists from the Centre participate in competitions and exhibitions worldwide.[25] Aurukun artists are famous for their sculptures, which traditionally were carved from soft woods for use in ceremony.[24]

Aurukun is home to a community swimming pool,[26] and a new large basketball hall / recreational centre. There are outdoor basketball courts and a rugby field. Aurukun participates in football carnivals and softball with other communities in the Cape region every couple of months.

Bushwalking, fishing and some camping are the dominant pursuits for tourists visiting. Visitors are required to apply for a permit from the Aurukun Shire Council prior to entering the community.

Possum Creek is a swimming hole 30 kilometres (19 mi) West of the town. Sandy Creek is a swimming hole 40 kilometres (25 mi) from Possum Creek. Emu Creek is a 4wd track 37 kilometres (23 mi) to the old road turn off and then 80 kilometres (50 mi) of Bush track. Aurukun landing is 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) from town and provides access to Archer River (crocodiles present) Umban is a 4wd camping ground just under 2 hrs drive.

Alcohol ban[edit]

Aurukun Council introduced an alcohol management plan to the community in 2009 that completely banned alcohol.[27][28] A previous alcohol management plan had restricted drinking at the Tavern to three hours each day.[29] Aurukun is one of 19 communities across Queensland with alcohol restrictions in place.[30] The Aurukun alcohol ban has been unable to rid the community of alcohol completely, and has spurred some black-market "sly-grogging".[31]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Aurukun (State Suburb)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 5 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Macquarie Dictionary, Fourth Edition (2005). Melbourne, The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd. ISBN 1-876429-14-3
  3. ^ van Tiggelen, John (14 March 2008). "'We need to get The children out of here'". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). 
  4. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Aurukun (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 3 January 2008. 
  5. ^ Aurukun Shire Council (20 November 2013), Aurukun Community Safety Plan November 2013 – December 2014 (PDF), Aurukun Shire Council, archived from the original (PDF) on 4 February 2014 
  6. ^ Carter, Allan John (1992), Juvenile Offending in Aurukun: A Response and Overview (PDF), Australian Government Australian Institute of Criminology, archived from the original (PDF) on 12 February 2014 
  7. ^ "Return to Aurukun: Chronology" (PDF). Australian Broadcasting Commission. 2011. 
  8. ^ Raphael Minder (24 March 2008). "Can Chalco show the way in deal with Aborigines?". The Age (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  9. ^ Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  10. ^ "Aurukun gang rape case prosecutor quits". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). 4 January 2008. 
  11. ^ Storr, Caithleen (2009), "The Aurukun rape case, Indigenous sentencing and the normalisation of disadvantage", Australian Indigenous Law Review 13 (1) 
  12. ^ "Rape case ruling shocks Australia". BBC News. 10 December 2007. Archived from the original on 12 December 2007. Retrieved 12 January 2008. 
  13. ^ Carney, Matthew (27 April 2011). "Return to Aurukun". Four Corners (Australian Broadcasting Commission). 
  14. ^ "Great results from Cape York primary school". Australian Broadcasting Commission. 11 August 2012. Archived from the original on 5 July 2015. 
  15. ^ Van Tiggelen, John (14 March 2008). "'Remove children' plea at Aurukun". The Age (Fairfax Media). Archived from the original on 15 July 2014. 
  16. ^ Guest, Annie (30 September 2009). "Dispute over improved school attendance". Australian Broadcasting Commission. Archived from the original on 5 July 2015. 
  17. ^ Aurukun Shire Council (2013), Aurukun Shire Council Annual Report 2012/2013 (PDF), Aurukun Shire Council, p. 18, archived from the original (PDF) on 4 February 2014 
  18. ^ Bateman, Daniel (5 October 2014). "Aurukun to introduce fluoride to its water supply". The Cairns Post (News Corp). 
  19. ^ Aurukun infrastructure works: Project profile, CivilTeam Engineering, archived from the original on 12 March 2015 
  20. ^ Martin, Philip (7 December 2007). "Reform perhaps, but basics first". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Archived from the original on 30 June 2015. 
  21. ^ "Aurukun lobbies Government to fix poor telecommunications" (Press release). Aurukun Shire Council. Archived from the original on 30 June 2015. Retrieved 30 June 2015. 
  22. ^ Murphy, Padraic (21 August 2008). "Aurukun under constant surveillance". The Australian (News Limited). 
  23. ^ Wik and Kugu Art Centre – Aurukun, archived from the original on 5 July 2015 
  24. ^ a b Cape York Peninsula, Aboriginal Art Online, 2012, archived from the original on 5 February 2015 
  25. ^ Wik and Kugu Arts and Crafts Centre (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on 4 February 2014 
  26. ^ Nancarrow, Kirsty; Ryan, Brad (21 July 2011). "Vandalism closes Aurukun pool". Australian Broadcasting Commission. Archived from the original on 5 July 2015. 
  27. ^ Koch, Tony (13 April 2011). "Benefits of alcohol management plan seen in Wik community". The Australian (News Limited). 
  28. ^ Hall, Miriam (10 September 2012). "Indigenous mayor wants to keep alcohol ban". Australian Broadcasting Commission. 
  29. ^ Skelton, Russell (22 December 2007). "Tortured history of violence". The Age (Fairfax Media). Archived from the original on 30 June 2015. 
  30. ^ Marek, Heidi (9 April 2015). "Drugs and alcohol seized – Aurukun" (Press release). Queensland Police. Archived from the original on 30 June 2015. 
  31. ^ McKenna, Michael (1 July 2014). "Alcohol-fuelled violence led support staff to flee Aurukun". The Australian (News Limited). 

External links[edit]