Jawun secondee Bridie McAsey shapes KAPCO youth diversion project

KRED's Amanda Gregory pictured on the left and Jawun secondee Bridie McAsey on the right.

KRED's Amanda Gregory pictured on the left and Jawun secondee Bridie McAsey on the right.

Bridie McAsey: My brief was to develop a model and set out an implementation plan for a youth diversion project that will get young Aboriginal people that have had contact with the justice system living and working out on one of KAPCO's cattle stations in a culturally safe environment. Participants in the program will also be supported by wrap-around services such as health, cultural, and educational, provided by Aboriginal organisations. The project has been dubbed the Marlamanu project (Marlamanu is the Walmajirri word for help).

I tackled the brief with research, and lots of consultation with people working in youth justice and related fields. I also spoke with other stakeholders that will be important for Marlamanu, such as the service providers that the project will be looking to link with. Consultations were extremely valuable and I think a continued collaborative approach will be key to the success of the project. Speaking with people provided lots of important insights about what it will take to make Marlamanu work. Amongst the youth justice community in Broome, there is across the board recognition that current approaches to youth justice are just not working, and the response to the project was extremely positive.

Having a coordinator of the program and services for Marlamanu participants will be an important feature of the project. The target is to have someone employed full time to fulfil the coordination and project management functions. A key theme that has emerged in consultations is that there is a lack of linkage between service providers that are seeking to support young people. There is also a lack of continuity in services and not enough bandwidth to tailor service provision to individual needs. If Marlamanu has dedicated resources to coordinate support services, these issues can be overcome.

I was based in KRED’s Broome office, but also spent some time in Fitzroy Crossing, which was a real highlight of my secondment. I was able to sit in on a KLC board meeting that was being held in Fitzroy Crossing and that Wayne was attending, and whilst there we also spoke to Fitzroy Crossing-based organisations about the Marlamanu project.

There was a lot going on in Broome during my secondment. The National Native Title Conference took place, it was NAIDOC week, and a group of twenty senior executives from organisations that support the Jawun program visited. Amanda and I presented to the visiting senior executives about KRED’s work and the Marlamanu project. 

Working at KRED as a Jawun secondee has been an enlightening experience. I have learnt so much about the way Aboriginal organisations work, the programs they are running, and the issues they are working on. Being in the Kimberley gives you incredible exposure to Aboriginal culture, and I’m so glad of that because I now realise I knew so little before. The Jawun secondment has significantly shifted my perspective and hearing stories and spending time with Aboriginal people illustrated to me how rich, broad and varying the experiences of modern Aboriginal society are. I hope to use the knowledge I've gained in the Kimberley as a lens for examining how Indigenous policy is done in Canberra. It was a privilege to work with and get to know the people at KRED, and my Jawun secondment has had a real impact on me.