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An Indigenous aquaculture program, run in the industrial outskirts of Bairnsdale in regional Victoria, has been a great success, providing work and practical skills for Koori women exiting the court system, as well as food for a local Indigenous community.
The program is managed by the Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Co-Operative, and run by a local Koori woman, Jaime-Lee Martin. 'Most of Bairnsdale is traditional Aboriginal land, so it just made sense to put the aquaculture on the Aboriginal land by the Aboriginal co-op and start producing fish to feed back to our communities,' said Ms Martin.
Program coordinator John Emanuelli stressed the importance of the program for Koori women in contact with the justice system. '[They] might have community work or some sort of court order, and they come here as a mentoring program under Jaime-Lee,' he said. 'Whether it be a court order if someone’s had troubles, warrants from the sheriff’s office where people have converted money to time, it’s a big bonus for those people. They do their time in the shed, learn a little bit about aquaculture [and] work-ethic, so that’s been a really positive thing for corrections in Bairnsdale.'
The aquaculture program is still in its pilot stage, with various fish species grown in the facility's main tanks. Once the fish reach consumption size, they're cooked and eaten during local Koori community celebrations. 'The girls that are coming here working on orders are giving back to the community as well, they see the fish go back into NAIDOC week and different celebrations during the year, so they take a bit of ownership,' said Mr Emanuelli.
Source: ABC Rural