7 May 2024

‘Big challenge’ ahead as Aurukun mayor targets employment, housing, safety

| Lyndon Keane
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New Aurukun Shire Council Mayor Barbara Bandicootcha (centre), pictured with fellow elected members Deputy Mayor Craig Koomeeta and councillors Jayden Marrott, Leona Yunkaporta and Eloise Yunkaporta, says she wants to see more Wik input into decision-making impacting the western Cape York community. Photo: Facebook.

Aurukun’s new mayor has identified employment, housing and community safety as priority issues for the new council and says there needs to more Wik-driven decision making involved in plotting the remote western Cape York community’s future.

After winning the 16 March election by a margin of almost 11 per cent, Mayor Barbara Bandicootcha said she was looking forward to working with Deputy Mayor Craig Koomeeta, and councillors Jayden Marrott, Leona Yunkaporta and Eloise Yunkaporta to develop priorities based on community need.

“I was voted in by the community, and I’m willing to sit down and hear what they have to say,” she said.

“There is too much division within community and amongst us along family lines.

“The community didn’t have choices back when the missionaries rounded people up from the surrounding area, [but] now things have changed, and I want the community to have a say.”

Mayor Bandicootcha slammed members of the community she described as refusing to play an active role in the success of Aurukun.

“We are all the Wik nation, but we live differently within our tribe and our clan groups,” she said.

“Wik people need to be in the driver’s seat; solutions should always be driven by the Wik nation.

“As a new council, we need to discuss issues such as education, and how we get our children to school.

“It takes a community to raise a child, but a lot of people are refusing to be a part of that and not stepping in when they see children doing the wrong thing.

“I want to see more people becoming involved in community issues instead of the same people having to take responsibility all the time.”

The outspoken mayor said she was hoping to lead a repair of the division the community was currently experiencing, adding the council was committed to holding Aurukun’s service providers to account.

“Division is not part of our culture,” she said.

“Our Elders, who achieved great things in the past, did so because they were united.

“There needs to be a review of effective service delivery against the funds that are currently provided in our community, to ensure there is no duplication and the community’s needs are being met.

“A lot of people keep reminding me that it will be a big challenge, but I am ready for this and will do my best for my community.”

Original Article published by Lyndon Keane on Cape York Weekly.

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