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Tribal Council steers better future for Bourke youth

Bourke Tribal Council members meeting last week – l-r: Barbie-Lee Kirby (Director, Data Governance, Evaluation & Analytics), Dawn Smith, Graham Wright, Maranguka CEO Matt Davidson, Tanya Demmery (Executive Assistant), James Moore, Ernest Moore, Ben Orcher, Dot Martin, and Phillip Sullivan (Chair). Photo TWH

When Maranguka was formed in Bourke almost a decade ago, the organisation set some ambitious goals to change how members of Aboriginal community had input on issues affecting them, especially regarding young people in the town.

In very simple terms, Maranguka is a model of Indigenous self-governance guided by the Bourke Tribal Council.

The Bourke Tribal Council is made up of representatives of the various indigenous tribal groups living in the Bourke district – and The Tribal Council’s plans and decisions are then carried out by the executive arm of the organisation – Maranguka.

But Maranguka works in very specific areas too – including in assisting to reduce youth crime in the community of Bourke.

A reduction in youth crime over the recent summer holidays has been largely because of the efforts of the work being done by Maranguka and the Tribal Council, according to Tribal Council Chair Phil Sullivan.

Mr Sullivan said the Tribal Council enabled the various tribal groups in the region to have a voice at the table of bureaucracy.

He described the Council as the cultural arm of Maranguka, which carried out the advice and input from the elders.

The reduction in crime and the increased participation of young people on issues such as driver licensing and the reduction in anti-social behaviour were positive outcomes of the unique structure and purpose of Maranguka, he said.

“The Council gives First Nations people a voice in the bureaucracy and a say in matters regarding their lifestyle and in the community in general.

“There are so many different groups and we all have our own ideas about what we need and the Tribal Council does that by giving each group a seat at the table.

“The Tribal Council meets monthly with the Maranguka committee which looks after policy and administration.

“We have an agenda which is more cultural than some other organisations and the administration ensures we are heard.

“The process gives guidance, trust, and truth back to the Tribal Council to run as a legitimate organisation with a cultural process.[…]

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