“There is no panic buying or hoarding of goods on the Islands. It’s already very hard to get the necessities in normal times as everything has to be brought in by freight and by boat. But everyone banded together, did the right thing and avoided panic buying.” - Kantesha Takai
Meet Kantesha Takai, the face and voice of “Keep our Mob safe” COVID-19 awareness campaign for the Torres Strait Islands in Youmpla tok.
In an interview with NITV Radio Kantesha revealed that the idea of running an awareness campaign for her community started when a friend, Talei Elu who runs the @facesofthestrait Instagram page, asked her to record a short video for their community.
Kantesha was aware that her message would appeal to her community. As a freelance marketer and active community member she knew exactly how-to tailor the message by dropping in the right names and words. What she didn’t expect is how quickly the message would travel and what impact it would have.
“I didn’t realise this would go far until I received a call from the agency asking whether they could spread the message across the nation,” Kantesha said.
She welcomed the call considering it was about getting the right message across to her community in the Torres Strait Islands.
We are very blessed to be very isolated. Our leaders, from top down took the right measures
Kantesha chose to deliver the message in Youmpla tok (or Creole), a language spoken by everyone in the Torres Strait Islands. Youmpla tok is also widely used on the mainland among Torres Strait Islander families. She included some English words to describe some key concepts.
Kantesha explains that the Torres Strait Islands are lucky to evade Covid-19 so far thanks to their remoteness as well as strong community leadership.
“We are very blessed to be very isolated. Our leaders, from top down took the right measures. The Torres Strait Islands Regional Council set up a disaster management group to take the right steps.”
Leaders enforced social distancing, isolation and brought school children back home. Kantesha also believes that the strong community spirit that characterises the Islanders played a part.
“There is no panic buying or hoarding of goods on the Islands. It’s already very hard to get the necessities in normal times as everything has to be brought in by freight and by boat. But everyone banded together, did the right thing and avoided panic buying.”
“We are also very lucky to be a seafaring people. Our men can hunt, we are self-sustaining.”
You can stay up to date on coronavirus at sbs.com.au/coronavirus
For more information
• Visit health.gov.au for the latest national medical advice.
• Call your local Aboriginal Medical Service, or someone you trust in the community if you feel unwell.
• Call the 24-hour National COVID-19 Helpline on 1800 020 080.
• Visit niaa.gov.au for information about community closures.