Bourke’s COVID-19 response excels

During the COVID-19 crisis Maranguka’s infrastructure, capable of bringing together community, government, and local services to quickly and effectively reach the most vulnerable has wrapped around elders, families, and young people to keep them safe, informed, and connected.

Maranguka, meaning ‘caring for others’ in Ngemba language is a community hub that works alongside the people of Bourke. Maranguka is a grassroots tool for Bourke’s Aboriginal people to shape and determine their future. It is a vehicle for empowerment, self-determination, co-design, and flexible service delivery.

Maranguka was identified during the COVID-19 crisis by the Local Emergency Management Committee as a key communication pathway to keeping the Bourke Aboriginal community safe and informed. To make the most of their strong Facebook presence, Maranguka developed tailored communications to reinforce key COVID-19 messages from both the Federal and State governments. These feature wording that is familiar and meaningful to locals accompanied by photos of respected elders and family members.

The Maranguka Hub has stayed open despite the disruption, and unlike many other services in the area that have shut their doors during government-imposed restrictions. It has remained a refuge for those fleeing homelessness or domestic violence and a trust port of call for help and support.

The Maranguka team has also been staying in close contact with vulnerable elders ensuring they have the information they need and have been supporting services get in contact with people who are not answering emails or phone calls.

The Maranguka team has stepped outside their normal roles during the COVID-19 crisis. Given that many services are restricted from face-to-face contact, the team has increased their own visits and transport services. This includes the delivery of meals, food hampers, and essential items. It also includes transporting community members to the local pharmacy and other locations if needed. Maranguka has also engaged community members eligible for the NSW Aboriginal Land Council Community Support Food Relief packages of food and hygiene items by assisting with the completion of application registration.

The Maranguka team has delivered workshops for the local school and assisted with maintaining contact with students, particularly those in years 9 and 10. They have created a database of contact details for hard to reach students and have helped the local school stay in touch through connections and visits. They were also able to survey and provide the names of students who require laptops for learning.

Maranguka is keeping young people informed and providing an opportunity for concerns to be addressed through regular contact with youth workers who continue to be active and available in the community. They are also ensuring the concerns of young people are passed on to government and non-government agencies in the area.

In the same way that occurred pre-COVID-19, the Maranguka team has been able to continue to daily meetings (online) with police, government support services, and NGO agencies to review support requirements of children at-risk and in relation to domestic violence incidents. These daily check-ins form a critical part of the wrap-around support strategy of Maranguka.

Watch the B Town Warriors, students from Bourke High School, share their message for everyone struggling through the COVID crisis.