Special Projects

RETURN TO COUNTRY

 

Through funding received from Lotterywest, Centacare Kimberley has embarked on a special project to develop and implement a program capable of supporting Kimberley people to return to their community of origin. Centacare Kimberley recognises that people travel extensively throughout the Kimberley region to regional centres, such as Broome, Derby and Kununurra. We also recognise that some people can face significant barriers to getting back home.

Centacare Kimberley has partnered with about 35 Kimberley based organisations to undertake a comprehensive needs analysis study that has examined the local visitor populations throughout the Kimberley region. We are working with a range of Aboriginal Corporations, Government Agencies and Community Support Services to complete the development of a long term sustainable Return To Country program.

The Kimberley community anticipates that this Return to Country program will have the capacity to financially support people to return to remote communities such as Ringer Soak, Kalumbaru, Bidgidanga, and Looma, from town centres like Broome, Derby and Kununurra . We are working as a team to develop a program that will function as a micro-finance model that permits people to borrow money to purchase tickets on buses and mail planes.

The final report has now been completed and below is a summary of the work done.

The Report:

 

The Consultation Findings Report represents the second report related to the establishment of a Return to Country Project across the Kimberley. The first report, released in September 2013, reviewed relevant literature on Kimberley mobility, defined key terms, assessed the scope of the project and focussed on developing the consultation methodology.  This second report provides the findings of the first consultation phase as will act as a further discussion point for finalising a Return to Country model across the Kimberley.

The data presented in the reports represents the consultation work undertaken between August- November 2013, as the Return to Country Project Officer engaged with a range of non-government organisations, Aboriginal organisations, government services and community members about local visitor populations, regional centre mobility and the barriers people face (if any) in returning to their home communities.

While the Return to Country consultations focused on issues associated with mobility, stakeholders have raised questions and provided insights within in a broad social context on issues such as the need for short term/short stay accommodation; the impacts of localised alcohol restrictions; limited public transport; overcrowding of houses in regional centres and remote communities and the relationship between seasons and population mobility. These issues are integral in understanding how and why Aboriginal people in the Kimberley travel, the impact that visitor populations have on regional towns and ultimately help to contextualise the need for a Return to Country Project. As such, these ‘associated issues’ are highlighted in this report.

On a more micro level this reports outline people’s experience and knowledge relating to mobility and visitor populations across the Kimberley; shares insights on the utility of a Return to Country program; identifies key features in the establishment of an appropriate model; and presents key principles for a proposed monitoring and evaluation framework. This framework will measure the effectiveness of the program and help to identify and address unintended impacts.

It is intended that these reports will be used as a discussion tool with key stakeholders between January and February 2014 with the view to achieving agreement on the proposed model with detailed predictive costings.

By late February the finalised model and costings will be sent to relevant potential funding bodies with the aim of securing a two-year funding trial to commence in July 2014.

Aims of the Report:

 

  • Provide select demographic information on people who identify as being part of a visitor population including; gender, age, community of origin, current and intended length of stay in a regional centre, modes of transport to and from community, accommodation type, desire to return home, barriers in returning home, frequency of travel to a regional centre
  • Discuss key features of Return to Country model from both a visitor population and service provider population
  • Develop a Return to Country model that is aligned to meeting the needs of all stakeholders and is reflective of current transport options.
  • Identify key features of a monitoring and evaluation framework capable of measuring the intended and unintended impacts of the program

Methodology:

 

The Kimberley wide consultation was broken up into a) consultation areas and b) sample populations within each area.

All persons who were involved in the consultation were interviewed in accordance with ethical principles governing qualitative research.

All participants were engaged in a semi structured interview process that took between 15 minutes and an hour in duration.

Consultation areas were decided on using the following criteria:

  • The town is a significant regional centre
  • The community in question was represented as significantly contributing to Broome’s visitor population as per Statistics For Community Governance: The Yawuru Indigenous Population Survey Of Broome (CAPER, 2012)
  • The community has a population over 200 people
  • The project officer was advised in more than 5 consultations that a particular community is significantly represented in a local visitor population

The sample population within the consultation areas is defined as:

  • Visitor population (those identifying as currently away from their usual place of residency), or,
  • Service provider population (community leaders/representatives, Aboriginal organisations, non-government organisations and government services that have knowledge and experience of visitor populations).

Please note that community leaders/representatives refers to people who engaged in the consultation outside of a paid or organisational capacity. These people were often nominated by other members of the service provider population as people who held knowledge on the subject and the community. In other cases it was a group of people gathered at the Community Store, the Art Centre or a focus group at a Women’s Refuge.

 (This research was undertaken by Emma Carlin)