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On a mission for his community

Benton from Mount Isa

Benton is a driven man. He is on a personal mission to improve his community at Mount Isa and the lives of the people living there.

A Yallambee Reserve groundsman, Benton, 39, is not only improving his community’s surroundings, he has committed himself to taking care of anyone he sees straying on to the wrong path.

The father-of-six, who lives with his wife Teresa at Yallambee and works for North West Queensland Indigenous Catholic Social Services, reports unacceptable behavior to the Department of Housing and Public Works or to police.

He makes sure kids go to school on time and are off the streets after dark and tries to ensure they have a full belly every night.

“They’re never going to get past their issues if they’re not being pulled up on their bad behaviour,” Benton said.

“I’m a role model to my kids, my wife and everyone in the community.

“They know that I’m a caretaker for the community that I love; a leader who would love to see other men and women rise up to be role models for their children.

“That’s what I’d like to see.”

Tragedy becomes a turning point

Benton’s inspiration to be a role model stems from tragedy—the death of his seven-day-old daughter, three years ago.

“That really broke my heart,” he said.

“After that I turned my life around. I gave my life to Jesus, who spoke to my heart that he would take away my heavy burden.”

Benton said he had stopped drinking, smoking, fighting and gambling.

“I now make good choices. I’m now a better father and a better husband,” he said.

“I’m a completely different man. I now give talks in my community to tell other indigenous people how to turn their lives around.

"I tell them to be leaders and to be role models for their kids because our kids watch us every day. They watch what we do.”

Creating a sense of hope

Benton is set to take on more responsibility with a Community Service Project about to start in Yallambee which will require any locals sentenced to community service to work with him to improve the reserve’s grounds.

He also helps out with cooking programs and has played a part in the department’s extensive renovations to public housing in the local area.

“It’s all about hope,” Benton said.

“I knock on people’s doors and ask them, ‘What can I do to help?’”

“I try to get extra funding for programs. I want to see this community move forward.”

“We can fix our problems but it all starts at home and that’s where I can help out, so kids can get a job.”

Benton is a much-valued client of the Mount Isa Housing Service Centre which celebrates its 25th birthday on 23 October 2018.

Last updated 22 October 2018    Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)


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