Legislative Council: Wednesday, September 27, 2023


APY Lands, Policing

The Hon. F. PANGALLO (15:04): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Attorney-General, as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, about violence in the APY lands.

Leave granted.

The Hon. F. PANGALLO:The Australian is carrying a disturbing story today about alcohol-fuelled violence in the APY community of Mimili. The school had to be closed because there were fears for the safety of terrified, mostly female teachers and government workers. APY Lands Council General Manager, Richard King, is reported as saying that police are not responding to calls for assistance and to address alcohol being brought into the dry community. Another worker said that the policing model of fly-in fly-out officers was not working.

The policing problems and the level of crime, particularly child abuse, in the APY lands were highlighted to me recently by a former policeman who spent several years working there. My questions to the Attorney-General are:

1. How long has he and his department known about the serious problems in the APY lands and the community of Mimili, and what does he intend doing about it?

2. Has he spoken or communicated with Mr King?

3. Has he contacted the Commissioner of Police about the violence and safety concerns, addressing the bootlegging of alcohol on the lands and boosting police presence?

4. Does he intend visiting the community?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:06): I thank the honourable member for his questions and his interest in this area. I stayed in the community of Mimili, which is about an hour and a half or so off the Stuart Highway into the APY lands, last month; I am regularly in many communities across the APY lands and in August I spent time in the community of Mimili, where I have spent a lot of time over the last couple of decades.

It is distressing and disturbing to see reports from anywhere in the country where there is unrest and violence occurring. I know that it occurs in all parts of this country from time to time: in suburban areas of capital cities, in regional centres, and also in remote communities. I certainly have spoken to a number of people who either live in or have links to the Mimili community over recent days and weeks. As I understand it, there are a couple of families who have longstanding disagreements and that has spilled over into violence in the community, which is exceptionally unfortunate for the rest the community.

In terms of policing across the APY lands, I am pleased that there has recently been an announcement of significant extra resources for policing in the APY lands. There is funding now, and it will be built—I just can't remember the date. I was talking to SAPOL about this in August when I went up for the opening of the new multiuse government facility based in Umuwa, which I have talked about in this chamber. There is funding that will be rolled out—I just can't remember the date it will be completed—for extra policing facilities in communities that don't have them.

There are police facilities in the communities of Murputja, in Amata, there is the multiuse facility in Umuwa, in Pukatja, and in Mimili. There will be built at some time in the not too distant future—planning is well underway—some policing facilities that would allow police to stay overnight in communities. That includes Pipalyatjara, Kaltjiti and also Indulkana. I am pleased that those extra facilities are going in—and yes, it does distress me to see, anywhere in the country but also in remote communities, where there is that unrest.