Alice Springs anti-violence campaigner says government must engage Indigenous leaders following curfew

Alice Springs anti-violence campaigner says government must engage Indigenous leaders following curfew Anti-domestic violence advocate Shirleen Campbell wants more government engagement with remote leaders. (ABC Alice Springs: Xavier Martin)

A prominent anti-violence campaigner in Alice Springs has called on the Northern Territory government to "step up its game" and involve community elders in discussions about strategies to quell violent unrest.

It comes after the NT government announced it would not extend a snap 72-hour curfew in the town, which was imposed on Monday in response to a string of violent incidents.

On Wednesday, as the police commissioner and police minister deliberated next steps, aviolent brawl involving up to 100 people broke out in the Alice Springs CBD.

Police Minister Brent Potter said now the curfew had expired, authorities would move to relocate remote visitors who were sleeping rough "without a valid reason for [being in] Alice Springs".

The territory's police commissioner previously said about 5,000 people, mostly from remote communities, had travelled to the outback town in recent weeks.

But Shirleen Campbell, co-coordinator of the Tangentyere Women's Family Safety Group, said conditions would not improve in Alice Springs without meaningful engagement with community leaders about the underlying drivers of dysfunction.

"I can say the government has not been doing it's job properly," she said.

"The government needs to … listen to the grassroots people, especially the remote communities and homelands and outstations."

Indigenous Territorians in remote communities have long faced higher rates of chronic health issues, poverty, domestic and family violence, incarceration and overcrowded housing compared with non-Indigenous Australians.

Ms Campbell, a Warlpiri and Arrernte woman, called on the NT government to collaborate with remote community leaders to "understand what needs to be prioritised".

"They have been neglected," she said.

"The government's policies are not working for our people — they're working against us.

"We're here to support them … because they don't get the opportunity to elevate their voices from the bush."

Remote visitors asked to 'abide by our rules'

Michael Liddle, a senior Alyawerre man from Central Australia, said people were migrating to Alice Springs because "it's too hard to live" in remote communities.

"It's so much easier to sustain life in a place like Alice Springs than a place like Yuendumu or Ampilatwatja," he said.

"You have poor quality water, you have no roads, no decent footpaths to walk on, no green spaces.

"You have food that is totally overpriced … you have substandard education, and you have no rules around education."

However, Mr Liddle stopped short of recommending further investment in remote communities, saying "I don't think any form of government can change this".

"I really think investment in remote communities is a thing of the past. People no longer want to live remote," he said.

"By all means, come and live in Alice Springs, but once you're here, we ask you to abide by our rules."

Chief Minister Eva Lawler said the violent brawl on Wednesday related to a dispute between families over the death of an 18-year-old in a car crash earlier this year.

The same dispute led to riots in Alice Springs in March, triggering a three-week youth curfew.

NT Police Acting Southern Commander Drew Slape said mediation was required to put an end to violence between the family groups.

"We need to make sure the leadership within each of these families do come to the table," he told ABC Radio Alice Springs.

"Engage in meaningful conversations so we can resolve these types of issues, so we don't have this sort of violence spill out."

  • https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/alice-springs-anti-violence-campaigner-says-government-must-engage-indigenous-leaders-following-curfew/ar-BB1pMX5B?ocid=00000000

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