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Yuendumu Mediation Group - Saving Lives and Saving Money

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The Yuendumu Mediation and Justice Committee (YMJC) will provide a net saving to Government of in excess of $14 million dollars over the next 10 years, a new piece of independent research has found. Along the way it will contribute to saving lives, improving health, reducing crime and improving productivity.

An Independent Cost Benefit Analysis of the Yuendumu Mediation & Justice Program was conducted by the Canberra University to determine what benefits the program will bring based on the success of the past. The analysis says that for every $1 invested by the Government there will be a saving of approximately $4.30.

The YMJC was established by the Central Desert Regional Council in 2011 and has been funded by the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet. Central Desert Regional Council CEO Cathryn Hutton says that there can be no better evidence to convince Government of the value of its investment. "This is a remarkable result. The independent analysis estimates a benefit cost ratio of 4.3. This is more than, for example, the benefits of the introduction of Opal fuel and the Productivity Commission's estimate of the benefits of smart electrical meters. The savings to be made in the areas of health, education, law, order, justice and housing compared to Government's investment rank amongst the highest in the world for community development programs. It's stunning." Ms Hutton said

In August this year Yuendumu celebrated 2 years of peace following a protracted period of interfamily conflict. The YMJC is attributed to playing a key role in building the peace in Yuendumu through their early intervention strategies. It has achieved this by being a program designed and run by local people and by having mediators constantly supported and consistently available in the community to respond to emerging issues.

Yuendumu elder and Coordinator of the Mediation & Justice Program, Robert Robertson describes the Program as using both Aboriginal ways of dispute resolution and Non Aboriginal mediation methods to respond quickly to conflict so that issues don't fester and escalate. "Our committee has all been trained in western ways of mediation. We combine that with traditional Warlpiri ways of doing our business. This way we are considerate of our culture and we can achieve proper sorry quickly." Mr Robertson said.

The model is now being used to assist in resolving long standing conflicts in neighbouring communities.

Mr Robertson has called on the Government to extend the funding. "We've achieved great things. We've set an example for our own families, for other communities and we've developed a model that can be used by future generations. But we've got a lot more work to do and we can't do it without Government support. Now we've got proof that it not only works but it saves the Government lots of money". Mr Robertson said.

Funding for the Mediation & Justice Program runs out at the end of December 2014.

For more information contact John Gaynor 0428 849 520.  A full copy of the report and summary sheets can be downloaded from the Mediation page.