Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Report paves the way for more police in Indigenous communities

The Howard Government today released an independent report of a review into policing levels in remote Indigenous communities in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, said policing was a critical issue in Indigenous communities.

"The charges against 11 men in the WA community of Kulumburru is something that has only happened as a direct consequence of a police presence in the community," Mr Brough said.

"No child in any community anywhere in Australia should be subjected to the type of abuse alleged to have occurred in Kulumburru and an effective police presence clearly can make a real difference."

Mr Brough said the review, by former Deputy Commissioner of the Northern Territory Police, Mr John Valentin APM, was an essential part of the Howard Government’s $130 million package to improve law and order. This package was announced at the Council of Australian Governments meeting in July last year, following the Intergovernmental Summit on Violence and Child Abuse in Indigenous Communities in June.

The package included $40 million for police stations and police housing in remote Indigenous communities where states and territories would place police personnel and the review was to assist in identifying priority locations.

Mr Brough said the review should’ve taken only three months, but virtual non-cooperation from Queensland and, until very recently, the Northern Territory, had unnecessarily slowed progress.

"Mr Valentin received strong cooperation from Western Australia and South Australia," Mr Brough said.

"In response, the Howard Government has announced $13.5 million for three new police multi-function police facilities in Burringurrah, Looma and Wingellina.

"South Australia has also cooperated with the review and we are close to reaching agreement on the locations of new police stations in that state. At this stage, we have agreed to provide facilities for four additional police in the AP Lands.

"The Northern Territory was unwilling to provide the data needed until I announced last week federal funding of $7.8 million for the construction of vital police facilities in Galiwinku. Now, because of this sudden cooperation, I will be able to announce further police facilities in the Northern Territory in the near future.

"Queensland has chosen not to fully cooperate with the review and I will reallocate resources if they continue to refuse cooperation.

"If Queensland wants to buy planes, it should allocate its own resources. I committed these funds to police stations and police housing to ensure real police presence in some of our most disadvantaged communities and I will not allow these funds to be diverted from that purpose.