War­riors’ mis­sion to help Gulf women

The Cairns Post - - NEWS - PETE MARTINELLI

FE­MALE vet­er­ans will be work­ing to em­power women in a Gulf com­mu­nity in a new pi­lot pro­gram.

The all-fe­male team of army vet­er­ans from the non­profit Ka­pani War­riors ar­rived in Kowanyama on Thurs­day and will fol­low a pro­gram de­signed specif­i­cally to tackle is­sues faced by women in Cape York and Gulf indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties.

“We have pre­pared Kowanyama with our ear­lier work but this will be a new pro­gram,” Ka­pani direc­tor Tim White said. “We have a strat­egy on how to tackle Kowanyama – this is the first time fe­male vet­er­ans have worked in the com­mu­ni­ties.”

The Ka­pani War­riors have been a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor to Cape com­mu­ni­ties since they were in­vited to Wu­jal Wu­jal in 2016 by coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Eileen Deemal-Hall.

The three-month “anger in­oc­u­la­tion pro­gram” run by Ka­pani – a course de­signed to re­con­nect the men in Wu­jal Wu­jal with their roles as pro­tec­tors and get them work ready, re­duced the rate of pub­lic nui­sance crimes by 61 per cent. Fam­ily vi­o­lence rates also fell con­sid­er­ably.

It is a pat­tern that Ka­pani has re­peated in other towns.

“We were of the view that we would em­power the men first. In a re­la­tion­ship where there is a risk of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, there is a risk if you em­power the women first as the men may be in­clined to chal­lenge that,” Dr White said.

“We have to work with the men to in­crease their con­fi­dence and ac­cept the women’s em­pow­er­ment.”

The team of four in­cludes two indige­nous de­fence mem­bers, from Cairns and Doomadgee, and two vet­er­ans from Syd­ney.

“The team will face com­pletely dif­fer­ent chal­lenges,” Dr White said.

“We have sin­gle mums, some with sig­nif­i­cant health is­sues, many of whom have gone through do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.”

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