"Outcomes include the creation of a community-owned ‘visionary’ 10-year plan, greater community cohesion and responsibility, improved self-esteem, and a greater sense of belonging and community. There is a contagious buzz of optimism in Napranum, with greater participation in community events and employment. The program has reinvigorated the Elders’ position in the community and a led to a greater connection with Lore and custom." Annalise Jennings
Napranum, meaning ‘meeting place’, is located 819 kilometers North West of Cairns on the western side of the Cape York Peninsula. Napranum is home to approximately 1000 Indigenous people who are descended from as many as 40 different groups from around Cape York Peninsula.
Napranum was the site of Weipa Presbyterian Mission from 1932 to 1965. Before 1932, the original Weipa Mission was situated near Spring Creek on the upper northern reaches of the Embley River. On 1 February 1966, the church handed over control to the Queensland Government and the mission became known as Weipa South settlement. During the late 1960s the name Napranum was increasingly used by the community.
At least twelve traditional owner groups occupied the surrounding lands. However, there are families living at Napranum today whose links extend to Mapoon in the north and Aurukun in the south. For example, the Thaynakwith people who have traditional links to the Andoom and Pine River area settled at both Mapoon and Weipa during the missionary period.
The twelve groups included the Alngith people of the Weipa Peninsula, the Thaynakwith of the northern side of the Mission River, the Mamngaith of Urquhart Point, the Lathamngith and Linngithigh of the middle southern side of the Embley River, the Ndrra’ngith of the Hey River to the coast towards Pera Head, the Araithingwum of the headwaters of the Hey River, the Nggoth and Trotj of the eastern side of the Hey River, the Anhathangayth of the upper Embley River, the Mbiywum people in the the country south-east of the Embley River extending towards the country now occupied by Merluna and Sudley stations; the Ndrrwa’angayth people (sometimes spelt Ntran-ngit - Peppan and Wathayn areas) near today’s RAAF Base Scherger.
Additionally some people from as far away as the Ducie River and near Moreton and Mein telegraph stations came in to live at Weipa in the early 1900s.
In his annual report for 1901, the Northern Protector of Aboriginals, W.E. Roth, wrote that the ‘sphere of influence of the Weipa Mission which I visited last May is gradually though slowly extending, blacks coming in now not only from Pera Head, and the upper reaches of the Batavia and Ducie Rivers, but also (a few) from the mouth of the Archer, from the Moreton [telegraph station], and from the area intermediate between Coen and Mein’.
During the 1960s people from other Aboriginal communities and the Torres Strait Islands settled at Napranum in search of work.
Napranum Aboriginal Shire Council is the local authority for the Napranum community and Napranum Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT) lands. Its Mayor and Councillors are elected every four years. Community administration is provided by Council staff led by a Chief Executive Officer. The Council is the trustee for the Napranum DOGIT lands.
Napranum residents are employed in a wide range of community work, land and sea management, local contracting firms and mining operations.
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'When I started working with the Napranum community (2011), Napranum was labelled as the second poorest community in Queensland.
There was no supermarket or store, no library, few streetlights, and no public transport. There were excessive taxi fees to the nearest town of Weipa. Overcrowding was rife. The primary school had been shut down ten years earlier without any community consultation.
Napranum was over-represented in all the negative social indicators, such as incarceration, unemployment, substance use problems and short life expectancy. Furthermore, the important indicators such as numeracy and literacy, health standards, and career opportunities fell short of national standards.
A values survey undertaken prior to commencement of the Whole of Community Change program showed the top current values of the community as blame, confusion, caution, short-term focus and exploitation.
However, in just over 18 months, Napranum recorded an outstanding reduction in entropy from 32% to 9% . The new top values of the community were community ownership, engagement, fairness and working together. Napranum recorded an increase of 60% in employment and a 40% increase in community-owned infrastructure.
There is a new conversation and energy within the community, which supports greater enterprise participation, substantial infrastructure and employment projects, and increased community services.
Outcomes include the creation of a community-owned ‘visionary’ 10-year plan, greater community cohesion and responsibility, improved self-esteem, and a greater sense of belonging and community. There is a contagious buzz of optimism in Napranum, with greater participation in community events and employment.
The program has reinvigorated the Elders’ position in the community and a led to a greater connection with Lore and custom.
A key outcome was the development of a strong community responsibility for social change. Moreover, the degree to which the wider community and government is responding to community priorities has improved.
The local Council is taking responsibility for essential infrastructure and services, such as a new administration centre and store, housing program, an award-winning day care facility, workers’ accommodation and the community hall. Napranum will be the first community to put forward a review of the Alcohol Management Plan.
The Cape York Mayors have formed an alliance based on the fundamental principals of economic development and community growth underpinning social transformation. The Cape Indigenous Mayors Alliance (CIMA) has set a new standard in intercommunity support and government communication.
Negative social indicators have fallen away. There are no children in the safe house. Domestic violence is on the decline. At least one person in every household is employed.' Annalise Jennings