From L to R – Professor John Scott (QUT School of Justice), Professor Melissa Bull (QUT Centre for Justice), Craig John (QUT PhD candidate), Aunty Harriet Pootchemunka (Chair, Aurukun Justice Group), Chris Emzin (QUT Centre for Justice) and Alan Dewis (DJAG)
QUT Centre for Justice ran a seminar on Wednesday 22 June 2022 on the Aurukun Justice Group.
The Aurukun Justice Group provides support for Aurukun community members engaged within the justice system. The Departments of Justice and Attorney General (DJAG) funds the Justice Group and maintains a focus on restorative justice and mediation as part of its Courts Innovation Program. The mediation program at Aurukun named Thaa’ Pant works with police and community members as an alternative to engagement with the justice system and seeks to reduce rates of imprisonment. Importantly, the mediation program also focuses on building community harmony. DJAG has instigated a program of training local members to be nationally accredited mediators (NMAS) ensuring that there is local capacity to address local issues.
The seminar was a facilitated conversation with Aunty Harriet Pootchemunka, Chairperson of Aurukun Justice Group, and Mr Alan Dewis of DJAG around the role and function of the Aurukun Justice Group. It was facilitated by Craig Jones (PhD candidate QUT Centre for Justice).
In the seminar Aunty Harriet gave her insights on leadership and enabling change in the community, with a strong focus on mediation. Alan Dewis discussed the process of managing the intersection of justice and indigenous people in Aurukun.
QUT Centre for Justice sponsored Aunty Harriet’s visit to Brisbane, and this seminar provided a unique opportunity to create discussion and awareness of this innovative justice program in a remote indigenous community.
Aunty Harriet Pootchemunka is a Wik elder, Chairwoman of the Aurukun Justice Group and a nationally accredited mediator. She is famous for her framing of genealogy as “common ground” in the context of Indigenous mediation.
Alan Dewis is the Director, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice Programs and Partnerships with the Courts Innovation Program at the Department of Justice and Attorney General. Alan is a mainland Torres Strait Islander , born in Cairns, North Queensland. His ancestral links are to Boigu Island in the west and Erub Island in the east of the Torres Strait. Professionally he is a lawyer with over 25 years’ experience working across the justice sector, in a variety of roles including policy & program design and delivery, community engagement, legal advocacy and policing. He is personally driven towards creating equitable and culturally safe experiences across the justice sector to achieve better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Craig Jones is a PhD Candidate at QUT Centre for Justice. The title of his project is, “Can mediation be reimagined to deal with conflict in a remote Aboriginal community”. Craig’s fieldwork site is Aurukun. Craig has been a mediator for thirty years and has worked extensively with Indigenous communities in Australia and internationally across that period.
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