My experience of the Kapani Warrior Program from Jack Menges, PhD research at James Cook University

I am a PhD researcher at James Cook University with an Honours degree in psychology. Prior to commencing my research I was employed by the state government in Child Protection for approximately eight years, for six of those years I was working in the remote communities of Cape York. In addition to my professional experience in remote communities, I grew up in various communities and mining towns in the Kimberley area in Western Australia and in the Northern Territory.

As a Child Protection officer attempting to help and support families in remote Indigenous communities it became immediately apparent to me that the services available to fill the gaps were insufficient. I felt that the measures in place were band-aid solutions dealing with symptoms rather than targeting the root cause of dysfunction and violence. Additionally, I found it frustrating that there were little to no services targeting or appropriate for men to work with. Men in these communities lacked positive mentoring and guidance.

In November 2018 I travelled to the remote community of Doomadgee to observe the Kapani Warrior team in action. I was immediately impressed with the level of hard work and dedication exhibited by all members of the team. The positive reaction of the young men in the community to being offered the chance to engage with the program was also surprising given my experience of poor participation rates in many well-funded programs. Clearly the Kapani program has a draw that other services lack. What stood out most to me about Kapani was the genuine and extraordinary passion displayed by the program facilitators. The level of care and investment given by each and every member of the team was unprecedented in my experience of government and non-government organisations. The sense of teamwork and camaraderie was exceptional, and these positive attitudes were picked up by program participants.

My firsthand experience of the severe and ongoing trauma that regularly occurs in our remote communities suggests to me that something needs to change because what is being done now is not working, something needs to actually address these issues at their root. I believe that Kapani offers an avenue for positive change in these areas that will result in long term and sustainable improvements. I have never seen a program with the promise and potential of Kapani being rolled out in remote communities. I look forward to working with the Kapani team in the years to come.

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