• The youth council hopes more sporting activities will help keep Aurukun kids happy and healthy. (NITV)Source: NITV
Two years after unrest saw teachers evacuated from Aurukun, the Cape York town has been working to find solutions with young community leaders.
By
Ella Archibald-Binge

Source:
NITV News
2 Aug 2018 - 2:00 PM  UPDATED 2 Aug 2018 - 2:00 PM

Jamilla Dix was among the school staff who were evacuated from the remote town of Aurukun in 2016 after a string of street brawls, car thefts and attacks on the principal.

It was difficult for her to leave. Ms Dix, a Wik descendant, grew up 100km away in Weipa. She had been working as a teacher’s aide for a year but already felt a deep connection to the community.

“I felt like I was sort of betraying my people and leaving them behind," she told The Point.

"The teachers involved and the whole community itself were really feeling the pressure and it was like being a pressure cooker, it was just about to explode.”

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In the wake of unrest, she and a handful of other young people created the Aurukun Youth Advisory Council – a fledgling initiative which aims to find local solutions to youth issues.

It is led by six young people who live and work in the community.

"Everyone wanted some action and wanted something done,” Ms Dix said.

“If workers that come in don’t feel safe, then how do the people that live here feel?"

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The youth advisory council organises activities such as sports, movie night and group dinners, and has been supported by the Queensland state government.

It will also hold monthly meetings as a forum for children to raise issues.

Once established it is hoped the advisory council will serve as a point of contact for a range of community services.

"We want to be proactive instead of reactive," Ms Dix says.

"We don’t want another evacuation to happen or any other juvenile people being sent away."

Queensland Youth Minister Di Farmer said she was "inspired" to meet youth council members during a visit to Aurukun in July,

"We will support [youth council members] to have their voices heard and join them and the rest of the community in building a brighter future for Aurukun’s young people," said.

Meanwhile, the group has also been lobbying to provide more physical activities for local kids.

Jayden Marrott, a founding member of AYAC who grew up in Aurukun, said the school incidents happened because the local students did not have enough to keep them occupied.

A community consultation report recently delivered to the state government also made a series of recommendations including funding for a not-for-profit sporting organisation.

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"When they don’t have anything to do they get real bored and they think doing bad stuff keeps them amped up, keeps them happy - but really it’s just giving us a bad name for the community,” Mr Marrott said.

"They’re all talented and their second nature is sports, and having that and keeping them busy with that will keep them tired, and they won’t get up to mischief."

Ms Dix remains hopeful that AYAC will be able to work with government to achieve their goals.

"I want to see an empowered people, not a people who are dependent on someone else," she said.

"That’s the Aurukun I want to see in 20 years."

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