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Play together, stay together

4 Jul 2017

Mutton birding, Reiki healing and golf: these are just three of the varied activities on truwana/Cape Barren Island that are helping the locals follow their motto of “the community that plays together, stays together”.

truwana/​Cape Bar­ren Island was returned to Tas­man­ian Abo­rig­ines in 2005. It is in the Furneaux group of islands off the north-east tip of Tasmania. 

We strive to have a hap­py, healthy com­mu­ni­ty and con­tin­u­al­ly look for oppor­tu­ni­ties to encour­age our peo­ple back to the island to be part of a robust and dynam­ic com­mu­ni­ty,” says Denise Gard­ner, from the Cape Bar­ren Island Abo­rig­i­nal Asso­ci­a­tion Inc. 

The pop­u­la­tion is cur­rent­ly 86, the major­i­ty Abo­rig­i­nal, with access to the island by plane or boat. All sup­plies are deliv­ered month­ly, by barge, while the mail plane deliv­ers three times a week. 

Our organ­i­sa­tion runs com­mu­ni­ty hous­ing and pro­vides four Flex­i­ble Aged Care pack­ages to 14 clients, as well as Health pro­grams,” says Denise. “ Under the Health pro­gram, with Man­ag­er Jane Fer­brache at the helm, we pro­vide den­tal, physio, podi­a­try, hear­ing, psy­chol­o­gist, exer­cise, optometrist, dia­betes edu­ca­tor and dieti­cian and hair­dress­er. We also have com­pli­men­ta­ry ther­a­pies such as Rei­ki heal­ing, Aus­tralian bush flower essences and reme­di­al massage.” 

The Health pro­gram works col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly with the Tas­man­ian Health Ser­vice that sup­ports the local clin­ic with a vis­it­ing GP once a fort­night and rotat­ing RNs on a fort­night­ly roster. 

From late March to ear­ly May many Abo­rig­i­nal res­i­dents leave the island to engage in the cul­tur­al activ­i­ty of Mut­ton bird­ing,” Denise says. We now have the Truwana Rangers group on the island who are respon­si­ble for land man­age­ment and mon­i­tor­ing of the Ram­sar Wet­lands locat­ed on the south east of the island. 

Through com­mu­ni­ty effort, we have a golf course – an addi­tion­al way of pro­vid­ing exer­cise plus social inter­ac­tion and activity.” 

The asso­ci­a­tion is respon­si­ble for oper­at­ing all infra­struc­ture on the island includ­ing pow­er, water and road works, says Denise. 

A primary/​high school which was estab­lished over 100 years ago con­tin­ues to offer edu­ca­tion and cur­rent­ly has eight stu­dents enrolled.