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Peacemaking with Mornington Island’s Restorative Justice Project

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A group of Indigenous people sitting round a table in a meeting room with Indigenous art on the walls and window at one end.
A Mornington Island community mediation taking place at Junkuri Laka
31 May 2017

The Mornington Island Restorative Justice Project is helping to reduce conflict and improve quality of life in the Gulf of Queensland community of Mornington Island through mediation techniques.

In 2008, the former Department of Justice and Attorney-General developed the Project in close consultation with the community. The Department worked with elders to learn how traditional dispute resolution could pair with modern mediation techniques.

What resulted was a mediation program developed with the community that works for the community.

Junkuri Laka is the local organisation delivering the program.

Junkuri Laka CEO, Dr Berry Zondag, said people are accessing the service before tensions erupt in the community.

“Initially the service was mostly dealing with deep issues within the community but now we are involved much earlier in the process,” Dr Zondag said.

“People are using the service to avoid the conflict and resolve conflict.”

Using community members as mediators has worked well for the program.

“Because we have been able to establish it well within the community, it is well understood,” Dr Zondag said.

“The program resonates and we see people start using the service for many other issues and therefore we are broadening the scope of what we’re doing.”

Junkuri Laka assists with 160 mediations each year with a great impact on the community.

According to a 2014 evaluation, 90% of the population on Mornington Island feels the service is directly responsible for peace and quiet in the community.

Dr Zondag sees the program as a good benchmark for other services for the community.

“You don’t just improve quality of life. You also make it possible for other services to deliver their services properly,” Dr Zondag said.

In 2015, the Mornington Island Restorative Justice Project was recognised as the national winner of the Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Award.

Find out more

The Mornington Island Restorative Justice Project receives funding by the Australian Government through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

Junkuri Laka is an organisation dedicated to law, justice and governance and is owned by the people of Wellesley Islands.

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