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Play together, stay together
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.