Improving community safety under the Northern Territory Emergency Response
An increase in police in remote Northern Territory Indigenous communities is helping build trust, leading to more reports of domestic violence, child abuse and neglect.
On the eve of the three year anniversary of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER), the Australian Government has released the Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory Monitoring Report.
The report shows that according to police data, confirmed child abuse and neglect reports have risen from 106 in 2007 to 275 in 2009.
Seventy-seven per cent of this increase is in 18 communities which did not have a police presence prior to the NTER but now have one.
The report also reveals there was a 75 per cent increase in the number of domestic violence incidents recorded by police in the NTER communities from 2007 to 2009.
And the number of convictions for assault across the NTER communities also increased by 28 per cent from 2007 to 2009.
Greater numbers of police in remote communities means that people are more likely to report crimes.
Police are working to build trust and relationships with local communities.
The Report reveals that there are more than 60 additional police deployed to communities; night patrols operating in 80 communities; more than 20 safe places and five upgraded permanent police stations in Maningrida, Gunbalanya, Ali Curung, Hermannsburg and Yuendumu.
The report also found that in the six months to 31 December 2009, night patrols transported more than 30,000 people and 550 people were taken to a safe house.
The positive role of policing was also demonstrated in a study undertaken for the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency and the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service released earlier this year.
This survey of Aboriginal people in 14 of the 18 communities with a police presence as a result of the NTER found that around 50 per cent of people said that alcohol and violence was less of a problem in their community because of the police.
Strengthening community safety in Northern Territory remote Indigenous communities is a key priority for the Australian Government.
Decades of neglect cannot be fixed overnight – we require a sustained effort from all levels of government and much more remains to be done.
The Australian Government is also committed to supporting leadership in Aboriginal communities to target the underlying causes of violence and break the cycle.
Taking ownership of these problems is no easy task for communities, especially when people are already living in tough conditions. But progress is being made and the Government will continue to work in partnership with Indigenous Australians to drive change on the ground.