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Men of Bourke play key role in successful Maranguka Justice Reinvestment Project

The Maranguka Justice Reinvestment Project in Bourke, NSW, has been identified as one of eight case studies where organisations and individuals are making significant impacts to enrich the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and youth.

The Maranguka project places a strong focus on men through its Role of Men Working Group.

The Working Group launched a a men’s space for the Men of Bourke in 2018 where Aboriginal men could meet, attend to men’s business, share stories, learn from each other and reconnect with their culture and community, thereby re-establishing their identity and becoming role models to young men and boys.

They can also use the space if they want to remove themselves from situations that may escalate into violence, heal and grow as men together, as well as access outreach services.

This space creates an opportunity for the Men of Bourke to work with young Aboriginal men in the community – exchanging cultural information, mentoring and building relationships and knowledge sharing.

Maranguka means ‘caring for others’ and it has been estimated that the Maranguka Justice Reinvestment project generated $3 million in savings in 2017. KPMG reported a 23 per cent drop in police-recorded domestic violence; a 31 per cent rise in Year 12 student retention rates; a 14 per cent cut in bail breaches; and a 42 per cent reduction in days spent in custody.

This was five times greater than the $600,000 operational costs, mostly provided by state and federal governments.

The KPMG report states that if just half of these results were sustained an additional $7 million over the next five years could be realised.

“Bourke is a model of hope to other communities across Australia,” says the Maranguka Community Hub.

The Maranguka Justice Reinvestment Project adopts a collective impact framework that changes the way government, NGOs and community members provide services to the community. Working groups bring everyone together to deliver the community-developed strategy to “grow Bourke’s kids up safe, smart and strong”.

About a third of Bourke’s 3000 population identify as Aboriginal.

The 2023 “Strong Culture, Strong Youth: Our Legacy Our Future” Closing the Gap report commends eight case studies for the way they have drawn on self-determination to address some of the most important issues identified in the communities they work with.

“Importantly, they draw attention to the essential role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led decision-making and self- determination in shaping a vision of health and wellbeing built upon a strong cultural foundation,” notes the report.


This is the first report published since the 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap was signed.

“While implementation of the National Agreement continues, unsurprisingly the most recent data confirms that despite improvements across the health sector, health outcomes remain comparatively worse for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” he says.

“To meet the targets in the National Agreement there must be a focus on the social and cultural determinants of health.

“The approach reflects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ understanding of health as social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB), the inherent links between physical and mental health, and the health of connections to family, community, Country and spirituality. This SEWB is inseparable from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural law, values and perspectives, healing practices and traditions designed to strengthen collective identities and cultural continuity.”

Read also …

Inside Story: Breakthrough at Bourke

Visit the Maranguka Community Hub


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