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Extra police have had to have been sent to Numbulwar on the Gulf of Carpenteria, where leaders are grappling with petrol sniffing and the arrival of “frightening amounts” of alcohol and cannabis. Unrest in the Northern Territory community of 687 people has coincided with a series of crimes. Community leaders have called a meeting of residents to discuss concerns, including the safety of nurses who were recently barricaded in their house while people threw rocks and made threats. The community has a health clinic, a school and a police station. Locals believe some children in the community have recently been sniffing petrol and getting into petty crime, including damaging the health clinic vehicle. Northern Territory Police have responded to the crisis in Numbulwar.

Further south in the Central Australia community of Yuendumu, additional officers have been working with local leaders to deal with a spate of crimes by juveniles over the January holiday period. Recent break-ins at the homes of teachers, police and health clinic staff at Yuendumu have prompted one health worker to leave town. The possibility that other health clinic staff could follow has caused deep concern inside the NT government. The last time the clinic closed was in November 2019 when health clinic workers were evacuated in response to a series of break-ins at the nurses’ quarters. It meant there were no health workers in Yuendumu a few hours later when 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker was shot dead by NT Police Constable Zachary Rolfe.

Walker, who had brandished an axe at officers a few days earlier, was killed as police tried to arrest him. Walker stabbed Constable Rolfe with scissors in the moments before the first shot was fired, according to evidence presented at a committal hearing in September. Constable Rolfe has been charged with murder and will stand trial in Darwin in July. His lawyer has indicated he intends to plead not guilty. In a media statement about the recent troubles at Yuendumu, NT Police confirmed it had sent extra police to the community of 760 people to deal with the outbreak of juvenile crime. Police have charged two youths following a number of recent property offences. Superintendent Jody Nobbs said: “Additional officers had been sent to the community to support local police in their investigations.

“Police have been conducting reassurance patrols and are working with stakeholders to ensure continued provision of services to the community and as a result, the two youths were arrested and there have been no further incidents since Christmas.  This recent spate of offending has been committed by a very small cohort of young people who have been identified and are being dealt with according to the law.” While the youths are due to appear in court at a later date, at least some young offenders have also been dealt with by adults in the community. Children who stole an ambulance in Yuendumu were caught when they got trapped due to heavy rain. According to locals, when the children were brought home, men in the community disciplined them according to local custom.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports