KWM’s social impact team, Community Impact, are grateful to have worked alongside the members of the Doomadgee Community and our community partner Act for Kids, to establish Gunawuna Jungai. Gunawuna Jungai becomes a partner with Government for the first place-based partnership in Queensland (and among the first in Australia) under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Importantly, it will embed community control and joint decision-making to achieve better and more sustainable outcomes. The partnership is a critical pathway for improving health and wellbeing of people in the remote Doomadgee community in Queensland’s Gulf country.
A small KWM pro bono team led by Berkeley Cox, supported and guided by members of our Community Impact, Brisbane and Melbourne teams, have worked to help the Doomadgee Community reach this point.
The importance of cultural authority, community control, joint decision-making, transforming approaches of mainstream institutions and shared access to data (all priority reforms under the national agreement) have underpinned the approach. The community is grappling with many complex social and health problems linked to poverty, social disadvantage, intergenerational trauma and remoteness through successive failures by governments. For example, the Doomadgee Community has one of the highest rates of rheumatic heart disease in Australia – a disease which is linked to poor housing and living conditions, which according to medical experts is 100% preventable. This disease has been eliminated in the non-indigenous Australian population for decades.
The work we and others (including Act for Kids, the Queensland Department of Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships and the Coalition of Peaks) are doing to support the Doomadgee Community is designed to have a lasting impact on this community and also help to establish a model for future community-led projects throughout Australia. Together with the broader work of our Community Impact team – including ground-breaking work in Justice Reinvestment – we continue to strive to support our First Nations community partners to strengthen communities so that young people thrive.
While the announcement is very welcome there is still such a long journey ahead for Doomadgee and clearly to Close the Gap in this country generally. KWM will continue to aspire to play a meaningful role in this regard going forward through Standing Strong & Tall Together, our Community Impact strategy.