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  • Writer's pictureSam Wilks

When even a Death doesn't warrant change, has the value of life diminished so far?

Our local Darwin economy is currently suffering both due to local cultural issues and due to Optics.

The Northern Territory is a harsh and unforgiving environment but our high crime rate and especially our youth crime rate is renowned world-wide.

I spoke recently to a client who moved to Adelaide 3 years ago but still retains an investment property, she asked me what happened to the kids that killed the guy at Caz, Rick Dermody?

Honestly, I couldn't recall but I've since researched and let her know, after the initial media response of 3 male youth attackers and 4 female youth witnesses. The Darwin judiciary sentenced 3 male youths to suspended sentences engaging in violent conduct causing death and engaging in conduct that gave danger to serious harm.

It is almost 4 years ago that a homeless man in Darwin who was about to visit his daughter down south was bashed to death by a group of youths in the Casuarina car park and her next question was “Has it changed?”.

Can I truly say it has?

"My professional interaction with the youths in the area has afforded me some insight but the reality is the underlying issues and problems still remain."

Could another Man or Woman be bashed to death in the City of Darwin by a group of youths?

Has the current federal, NT or local government progressed on any policies or actions to curb the underlying issues?

What are the issues that have been identified as directly responsible for the high youth crime statistics in the Northern Territory?

  1. Alcohol abuse across the community

  2. Lack of education

  3. Communication

  4. Marijuana and substance abuse

  5. Domestic violence

  6. Family breakdown

  7. Alienation – a breakdown of the traditional and cultural values in modern Australia

  8. High unemployment

  9. Clash of culture

  10. Housing and homelessness

  11. Health issues

  12. Gambling

  13. Pornography

  14. Responses from government agencies

  15. Law and Justice

  16. Rehabilitation to curb repeat offence

In the NT the Indigenous youth population is about 28% but the proportion of offenders is about 77%.

The biggest issue identified above is Alcoholism and the NT Government is re-installing the Banned drinkers register in September of this year. This is a positive start.

The council has the ability to make submission (not a decision) to Licensing NT in regards to the application for a liquor license and dispute it due to public health and safety and security concern but ultimately it is an NT Government responsibility.

In the last 10 years since the Intervention was announced have we seen a reduction in Liquor outlets or increase?

Have we seen a reduction in Gambling facilities or an increase?

Have we seen greater or lesser numbers in staffing and services for Police officers, nurses, family and children's services, counselors, housing, homeless shelters?

If you are a local then the last 2 consecutive governments and their austerity measures will allow you to answer these questions with ease.

So what can Darwin City Council do?

The Darwin City Council is the First Tier of government that the people generally deal with, through ownership of land, property, animals or the use of parks, roads and more.

When I ask youths and adults alike “what do you consider to be a Council responsibility?”the answers are varied. Many see Council as the maintainer of the land, libraries and the issuer of fines so they believe they have the most money and power. It is alien for them to conceive that the person/s responsible for the greatest amount of direct assets are on an allowance and have to work a full-time job elsewhere.

Many of the issues above are a direct responsibility of the federal and NT Government but all of them are directly or indirectly influenced by the actions, investments and attention of the Darwin City Council either now or in the future.

I believe that if Council is to adequately meet its requirement of providing a safe and secure environment to the community at large and to visitors to the Top End we need to invite the creation of a Cultural advisory board, made up of members volunteered from the traditional owners of the land and seek their advice and consultation in the creation of a cultural restoration program to the City of Darwin.

This will not only increase our appeal but also actively facilitate the reduction of risk and the benefit of increased safety and inclusion from our most vulnerable to our most valued.

I have spoken to community members and they have advised me that they seek the following –

  • Communication and Dialogue with the government on all levels

  • Cultural empowerment and the ability to share their knowledge and stories

  • Ownership and ability to monetize and make a living from sharing their culture be it by traditional art, music, dance, storytelling, hunting, trapping, fishing and the leasing or sale of their assets.

  • Awareness and acknowledgement

  • Healing and reconciliation

  • Counselling and education (talk with us, not at us)

  • Family and “strong Family” building activities to promote harmony

  • Domestic Violence, alcohol and drug rehabilitation shelters for Men and women

  • Older age facilities

I purposely did not telegraph my expectations from the several different adult members of the Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander communities. These are the wants as reported to me, these are their wishes I am sharing.

Full-disclosure - This was not a scientific study. Although I have spoken to over 40 different persons, I did not on many occasions seek full names or attempt to judge a person due to their inebriated state. If they were willing to share, I was willing to listen. These are not the talking points of a committee, no individual mentioned a "treaty" no one asked for more money from the government but many complained about responses from government services (a few asked me for a dollar and considering they were providing me with information I was happy to pay for this service). Each person both Male and female did give me responses that I adapted through personal choice. The word "Respect" was used by more than 14 respondents and I have clarified that after further questioning to "Awareness and acknowledgment". "Strong family" as used by several different persons referred to several types of extended families and community family groups. Domestic Violence was acknowledged by the males and females to be a big issue and shelters should in their opinion, logically be provided for both males and females.

If you Live or know some body that resides in the Ward of Richardson and you want somebody to represent all of the people all of the time, not some of the people some of the time. Vote 1 for Sam Wilks this coming Council Election on the 26th August 2017.

Note : Written and Authorized by Sam Wilks. The views included may not be those of others mentioned in the article but are those of Sam Wilks. If you have other idea’s feel free to comment below. Idea’s and differing opinion is recognition of a free and just democratic society. A Society I am happy to live in. Please however try not to be abusive or discriminate, you may be. But if I feel that your opinion may be harmful or is reported as being harmful, I will delete it. Sam Wilks 0402 152 929 PO Box 40441 Casuarina NT 0810

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