Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Review of policing levels in remote Indigenous communities

The Federal Government today announced that former Deputy Commissioner of the Northern Territory Police, John Valentin, would head a review of policing levels in remote Indigenous settlements in Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia.

Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, said the review was an essential part of the Australian Government’s $130 million package to improve law and order announced at the Intergovernmental Summit on Violence and Child Abuse in Indigenous Communities in June.

The Minister said Mr Valentin’s appointment was a positive step towards making safer communities for Indigenous Australians.

"I expect the review will provide an important baseline to determine whether adequate levels of policing exist in certain communities and where governments’ resources are most needed," Mr Brough said.

"Mr Valentin brings a wealth of policing experience with remote Indigenous communities and wide experience in intergovernmental police matters. His previous roles include Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner and Commander of the Strategic Intelligence and Drug Operations divisions with the Australian Federal Police."

The first priority for review will be Central Australia and the North-West parts of South Australia. The South Australian Government has already indicated an interest in providing extra police for the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands and there have been preliminary officer level discussions with the Northern Territory.

Mr Brough said that he hoped that improved police presence, supported by other measures announced in the Summit and the COAG process would encourage and provide more opportunity for victims and witnesses to report violence and child abuse.

Low rates of reporting of abuse was agreed to be a major problem at the Summit and in many cases major communities have no sworn police officer presence.

While the provision of adequate policing resources and ensuring all citizens within each state get the full protection of the law is a State and Territory responsibility, the $130 million Australian Government package includes over $40 million for police stations and police housing to assist states and the Northern Territory to assign adequate policing resources to remote communities.

Mr Brough said Australian Government officials are meeting with State and Territory governments to settle implementation plans for the package that was developed during the Summit and subsequent COAG process, but a number of important steps had already commenced.

"Officer level discussions are occurring on the National Truancy Unit, the Federal Government has already introduced legislative amendments on cultural law and last week, one of the cornerstones of the package, the National Intelligence Taskforce, commenced operations in Alice Springs and we are now ready to start the Review of Policing levels," Mr Brough said.

"I encourage State and Territory Governments to co-operate with Mr Valentin’s work because it is in the national interest for all governments to improve the protection of victims and witnesses and to implement measures to tackle the scourge of violence.

Mr Valentin commences work on Monday 16 October. The review will continue for 3 months.