|LGA(s)||Shire of Aurukun|
Aurukun (pron.: //) is an Indigenous community, situated approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) south of Weipa in far North Queensland, Australia. The town faces west to the Gulf of Carpentaria, and during the wet season, roads are impassable.
In March 2008, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that standards of justice, education and child safety have collapsed in Aurukun, and that the local community justice group has called for children to be removed from the town for their own safety and wellbeing.
At the 2006 census, Aurukun had a population of 1,043. with approximately 900 indigenous individuals who belong to five distinct tribal groups. 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 twenty families from 13 tribal groups, which are split into two factions — the "Top end" and "Bottom end". Violent conflict between the two groups creates problems in the community on a regular basis.
The area is rich in bauxite.
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.
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 men received probation and other light sentences after being found guilty of raping a ten-year-old girl. The mild sentences received international condemnation and were the catalyst for a review of sexual abuse sentencing in Queensland indigenous communities.
There is a preschool and State primary school which caters for students up to the conclusion of Year 10. Attendance rates have greatly increased due to a diligent and dedicated staff at Aurukun State School. TAFE college is offered for students in year 11 and 12 and older members of the community are encouraged to learn about small engines. Aboriginal and Torres Strait children account for 99% of classes. Visits by other training specialists include sewing, restaurant training and cooking.
Electricity is supplied by Ergon (formerly FNQEB) through three generators supplying 240 volts 24 hours a day. There are frequent power surges and interruptions.
There is town water and water tank fed by many bores throughout the town. There are frequent interruptions.
A sewer system is in place in the community.
There is a new saltwater chlorinated swimming pool 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 km West of the town. Sandy Creek is a swimming hole 40 km from Possum Creek. Emu Creek is a 4wd track 37 km to the old road turn off and then 80 km of Bush track. Aurukun landing is 1.5 km from town and provides access to Archer River (crocodiles present) Umban is a 4wd camping ground just under 2 hrs drive.
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.
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.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Aurukun (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 3 January 2008.
- Macquarie Dictionary, Fourth Edition (2005). Melbourne, The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd. ISBN 1-876429-14-3
- 'We need to get The children out of here' - www.smh.com.au, retrieved 14/3/8
- "Rape case ruling shocks Australia". BBC News. 10 December 2007. Archived from the original on 12 December 2007. Retrieved 12 January 2008.
- Murphy, Padraic (21 August 2008). "Aurukun under constant surveillance". The Australian.
|Wikinews has related news: Nine who admitted raping 10-year-old released by Australian judge|