Sonetta Fewquandie

Mackay woman Sonetta Fewquandie believes her life's purpose was always to work for her community. And it's this sense of purpose that has led her towards her work as manager of the Mackay Aboriginal and Islander Justice Alternative Group (MAIJAG).

"My position (with MAIJAG) is to provide support to the Indigenous community through the court process which is very important," she said,

"But my passion is to provide early intervention and prevention programs to keep Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander community members out of the justice system.

"The history and injustices that Indigenous people had to endure is my inspiration," she said.

"Working with the community to overcome these injustices and work with my people for change - not change to fit in the non-Indigenous world - but change to empower my people to be strong within their culture and move forward with a positive outlook."

As well as managing the successful community organisation, Sonetta is juggling caring for her family on top of university studies.

"I'm currently completing a degree in Community Welfare through James Cook University and my decision to do this was to be able to assist my community.

"My main goal is to finish my degree because I feel this makes a difference to the people I work with. Starting and finishing something is setting a good example to community members."

Since taking the reigns as manager of MAIJAG, Sonetta has guided the organisation to some excellent outcomes.

"When I commenced my position of manager four years ago the numbers of Indigenous young people going through the court each week was around 15 to 20," she said.

"Today we see two or three coming into court, which is great.

"The feedback from the community is that MAIJAG is making a difference, but my thoughts every day are, 'what can I do better? Am I doing enough?'.

"It is hard work but some jobs are meant for certain people and community work is meant for me.