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Cape York female teacher stabbed in alcohol-fuelled attack

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A 25-year-old female teacher has been stabbed and punched repeatedly in an allegedly unprovoked attack in Lockhart River, on the Cape York Peninsula in far north Queensland.

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Police said the woman, who is a teacher at the local state school, was at her home at 9:30pm Tuesday night when she was approached by a man seeking medication and a glass of water.

They said she gave him some water before the man, 26, allegedly punched and stabbed her.

Police said a neighbour who rushed to her aid was also allegedly assaulted before the man ran away.

He was charged with grievous bodily harm and common assault.

Yesterday, his case went before Cairns Magistrates Court where the man was remanded in custody.

The teacher had injuries to her face, arms, legs and torso and was flown to Cairns Hospital, where she remains in a stable condition.

The Mayor of Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council, Wayne Butcher, condemned the alleged attack.

“She’s [the teacher] a lovely person, she’s been living here in our community for the last few years and she just mentioned to me the other day how much she loves Lockhart River,” Butcher said.

“My heart and my thoughts and my prayers go out to her and her family.”

Butcher said the incident would affect the town’s ability to attract teaching staff.

“She won’t come back now, no one would,” he said.

“It’s saddened us as leaders because we know the importance of these teachers, it’s all about educating our children who are our future.”

Butcher was concerned the incident could have involved alcohol and said he would lead a crackdown on the practice known as sly grogging, in which black market alcohol is brought into communities where alcohol is banned.

He said the practice has increased this year, after the Federal Government introduced higher Jobseeker payments and allowed people to access their superannuation.

“I’m actually very angry and very frustrated because I know the victim personally,” he said.”People are taking advantage of this extra money that’s available in communities and just prey on the most vulnerable with their weak spot, which is alcohol.

“We’ll start with a public meeting and we will state the obvious that we will not accept any more people selling grog in our community.

“If it means we need to go and knock on doors, so be it, we will.”

School community ‘unsettled’ but ‘calm’

Queensland Teachers’ Union president Kevin Bates said support was being provided to the woman and other teachers in Lockhart River.

“We’re obviously concerned for the teacher’s wellbeing and for the safety of our members in the community,” Bates said.

“This is a difficult situation for anyone to be confronted with … teachers in that community will obviously be feeling very unsettled.

“Ourselves and the Department of Education are working with teachers and the school to ensure they’re safe and feeling secure at the workplace.”

Bates said the incident, while serious, was not unique to remote communities.

“The reality is that there is unfortunately an increasing incidence of violence across our community and people can be exposed to this sort of an issue at any place and any time.”

– ABC / Renee Cluff

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