Strong Puuya (Life Force), strong Culture, strong Future is the vision of the Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council.
Lockhart River is a remote Aboriginal community in Far North Queensland near the world-heritage listed Great Barrier Reef with untouched beaches and amazing fishing.
The Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council encompasses 354,000 hectares of country. Located on the east coast of Cape York Peninsula approximately 800 km north of Cairns by road, the residents of the shire are mostly from six traditional family (language) groups:
- Wuthathi from Captain Billy Landing to Olive River
- Kuuku Ya’u from Olive River to Nyllichii (creek south of Cape Griffith)
- Kanthanumpu from Nyllichii to Lockhart River mouth
- Uutaalnganu from Lockhart River mouth to Stony Creek
- Umpila from Stony Creek to north of Friendly Point to Breakfast Creek
- Kaanju from southern inland of Stony Creek and northern boundaries as far as Batavia
Approximately 700 people reside in the Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire, the majority of whom are under 25 years of age.
The community’s strong cultural identity – as expressed through its dancers and also internationally-renowned Lockhart River Art Gang – makes Lockhart River a natural place to come together to celebrate the proud cultural heritage of Cape York.
Orange Sky founders Lucas Patchett and Nicholas Marchesi attended a conference in mid-2016 where they heard a remote area health worker talk about the prevalence of scabies in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The health worker outlined that there were three main ways to prevent this from happening that include:
- Proper washing of clothes and linen; and
Nic and Lucas knew that they could provide support in the areas of washing and education so they embarked on a journey to see how Orange Sky could get involved.
Orange Sky first visited Lockhart in early 2017 to meet with Mayor Wayne Butcher and community leaders. There were many discussions and tours of the community that led to a better understanding of the needs of the community. Hours of yarns occurred with Elders, community leaders and the broader community to find out how Orange Sky could best support a community-led project.
In September 2017, MSO Katie Crawford and CEO Jo Westh visited Lockhart River to speak with Lockhart River Elders, Leaders, and Service Providers. Face to face discussions were had with the Lockhart River Aboriginal Council, QLD Health, QLD Education, PUUYA, and people of the Community to continue meaningful consultation around the Lockhart River Mobile Laundry Program.
A key outcome from these discussions was the creation of a Steering Committee to oversee the Lockhart River Mobile Laundry Program. The Steering Committee consists of a representative from each service provider in Lockhart and Lockhart River Elders.
Orange Sky feels very privileged to be accepted into the community and brought along on this journey towards improved health outcomes in the community. We are looking forward to a long round of self-discovery and understanding that only comes from experiencing life in a remote community in Australia. We will be reporting back soon on some of the outcomes and adventures that occur along the way.