Jumbun community aspirations at heart of COVID-19 recovery  

[supplied by datsip]

Sean Choolburra purchases groceries from shop assistant Strayte Huxley-Wilkie at the Oom-Bul-Mun store opening. Image supplied.

Two hours south of Cairns, the small Aboriginal community of Jumbun is driving big changes towards sustainability and economic prosperity.

 

The community of approximately 120 people in Murray Upper on Queensland’s Cassowary Coast is a living example of community leading change towards positive outcomes.

The former private cattle station was purchased in 1976 and then established as a public entity on 9 June 1978. The move was part of a transition towards community ownership and to provide a stable home to First Nations people who were always moved on from property to property as ownership changed hands.

After years of enlisting external management, the community is now governed by a board of 100 per cent Girramay, Jirrbal and Gulnay Traditional Owners.

The move to reinstate community leadership has paid dividends. Jumbun maintains and services its own essential infrastructure and is proudly debt free with aspirations to build local capacity.


As part of its proactive response to a potential community-led COVID-19 lockdown, Jumbun fast-tracked plans for its community store years ahead of schedule.

In June, Jumbun opened its Oom-Bul-Mun store – meaning meeting place/gathering in Girramay language.

Coordinator Nicole Huxley said the step towards self-sufficiency formed part of the community’s five-year transition to divestment from the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC).

Those previously forced to seek supplies from towns including Tully, Ingham, Cardwell, Innisfail and Cairns can now feed their families without leaving their community.

“Our shelves are stocked with meat, produce and essentials from the local butcher, bakery and produce supplier to support the neighbouring economy,” Ms Huxley said.

“There were many sleepless nights in the height of the COVID-19 risk to balance community needs, but the priority was always the health of our Elders and old people,” Ms Huxley said.

New relationships formed from COVID-19 have created opportunity for ongoing dialogue and Jumbun is now included in the region’s disaster management planning.

The community has vibrant plans for agriculture ventures, bush tucker innovation and revival of a once thriving tourism hub.  Jumbun is also looking at how to work with First Nations bushfood producers nationally.

Ms Huxley is the Queensland Director of newly formed advocacy body, First Nations Bushfood and Botanical Alliance Australia.

“Jumbun’s next goal is to become a First Nation accredited organic regenerative harvester under the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture,” Ms Huxley said.

“We are exploring agriculture and ways to responsibly, sustainably and ethically produce and market bushfoods while caring for country.

“I vividly imagine our kids being able to pick a fruit from the tree and never go hungry.

“Jumbun’s vision is to bring healing and prosperity to each member of our community past and present by respecting their dreams and aspirations,” she said.

The Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships is proud to work alongside the people of Jumbun through community business and enterprise development in line with local aspirations for current and future generations.

DATSIP Cairns and Hinterland Principal Project Officer Evelyn Myatt said Jumbun exemplified the concept of local thriving communities.

“Jumbun is a beacon for other First Nations communities striving to become self-sufficient through growing their local economy; and creating a foundation of success for future generations while maintaining their strong cultural grounding and values,” Mrs Myatt said.

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