From Elcho Island to the Red Centre

05 August 2015
“Tim is off to Alice Springs and both he and his family will be sadly missed by both fellow officers and more importantly, the entire indigenous community on Elcho Island. He leaves massive shoes to fill both as a Police Officer, and as a sincere, decent person of the highest integrity.” Elder John Mangu
Tim with local Elder John Mangu
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NT Police Officer of the Year 2014 Senior Constable Tim Wethers,  is finishing up in Elcho Island and heading to the Red Centre.  

Senior Constable Wethers joined Northern Territory Police Force in 2005, serving in Darwin and as a member of the Mounted Police, was then posted to Galiwinku in July 2011 to try his hand at Remote Policing.

The longest serving Police Officer in the community, he has concentrated his efforts on developing relationships between the Police and the 3200 residents on the island.

“I have noticed a very big change in the community which once largely settled issues with numerous bouts of hostility but now choose to have Police assist and maintain calm. This was mostly due to misunderstandings and misinformation.

“My big belief is that respect is earned and it doesn’t come by wearing the uniform! Being laid back and having a non-confronting nature I think also helps in this dynamic environment.”

Tim organised the 2014 ALPA/Cooldrige Fun Run which was the biggest indigenous fun run in Australia. This year’s fun run is set to be on the last weekend in August; an event the community is looking forward too.

Tim has helped implement the Drive Safe program in the community, assisting many people gain their drivers licence, implemented an annual fuel reduction burn program in the community as well as working hard to develop the NTES team on the island.

“My wife and children have been there to support me the whole way and it has been quite a journey. My wife Belinda works for the local Miwatj Health Clinic developing the Yolgnu workforce, she loves it and the people; she definitely doesn’t want to leave. We have four children, all under eight years old. The three older ones can speak fluent Yolngu Martha. We have met people who we will call friends for the rest of our lives,” said Tim.

Tim was nominated for and won the 2014 Rotary Club NT Police Officer of the Year. This was celebrated by the community with a large ceremony; Tim and his children were painted and wore sacred feathers.

“I have been humbled to have been asked to participate in cultural funeral processes as well as carry the coffin of a high profile traditional elder.

“I have a big thing of wanting to change people’s lives; being a Police Officer in this community I’ve talked a number of people out of committing suicide and even managed to talk an individual out of his bedroom who had been too scared to leave his room for over two years.

“Elcho Island is a beautiful place with a beautiful and strong culture. The place and its people have developed me and have allowed me to be the best I can be.

“I am glad that I took the opportunity of a lifetime not only for myself but for my young family as well. I’ll definitely be back to visit,”  Tim said.

Community Engagement Police Officer, Senior Constable Paul Keightley said, “As recently as my visit to Elcho Island this week, Tim was down at Remote Jobs in Communities Program (RJCP) meeting with the Government Engagement Coordinator (GEC) and Remote School Attendance coordinators, arranging driving tests for local residents to enable more school bus drivers, thus helping to increase school attendance.  

“The community cannot speak highly enough of Tim and I’ve been privileged to work with him and learn from the cultural knowledge and rapport he has, to help negotiate issues that could result in large scale unrest, if not handled diplomatically.”