Northern Territory Emergency Service (NTES) has received enthusiastic local support to establish a permanent NTES unit at Warruwi, given its remote location and exposure to cyclone’s and storm surges.
Senior Constable First Class Paul Keightley, Community Engagement Police officer, Arafura Region
Warruwi community on South Goulburn Island is home to around 400 residents, this can swell to 600 during cultural or sporting events.
Local residents are currently being recruited via a “buddy” system (bring a keen and capable friend along) to assist in becoming NTES members, thus passing on local knowledge that would be vital in an emergency, as well as gaining core skills that NTES members are trained in.
Warruwi School Principal Darrly Kinnane is the Unit Officer and Ida Wanaga, long term local resident and health worker is the Deputy Unit Officer and is in training to take over as unit officer in 2015. Previous OIC Sergeant Andrew Litman and Constable Aaron Evans have assisted the NTES Area Manager Alison Heath with the development of the NTES unit as well as assisting in a communications and team-building workshop.
An NTES meeting was held at the Warruwi School on August 27 with 8 attendees, including 5 NTES members. Founding NTES member and local resident Micky “Moonlight” Yalbur told a fascinating story of survival and the power of mother nature after being buried alive in his tent whilst camping on North Goulburn Island with his family during cyclone Debbie (category 3, winds of up to 250kph) in 2003. He was only saved because he was able to bang items together whilst buried and alert family to his whereabouts after the cyclone passed. Police and all those attending this meeting were amazed at Micky’s story.
Current OIC, Sergeant Ian Nankivell and Arafura Community Engagement Police Officer (CEPO) Paul Keightley have been actively engaging with locals; including local elder and Djungai (traditional lawman) Bunug Galamanda and discussing the importance of elders, and in particular the young upcoming community leaders joining NTES, becoming members of the Community Safety Committee (CSC), applying to become Aboriginal Community Police Officers (ACPO’s). A community safety committee (CSC) meeting was held during the week and was well attended. Several new items were identified and are being added to the Community Safety Action Plan (CSAP). Elders attending the CSC were very keen to have cultural awareness training implemented and are currently working with police and other agencies to see them implemented in a sustainable and culturally appropriate manner.
Police, NTES and other agencies continue to engage with remote community members on a grass roots level; such efforts ensure remote communities go ahead long term with regards to safety, improved amenity and forming mutual respect and working partnerships.
Positive things are happening in the bush!