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Involvement of Indigenous juveniles and young adults in the criminal justice system

CHAIR —Thank you for participating in this roundtable. As you will have gathered, what we on the committee and our staff—and I should acknowledge Susan Cardell, who has organised a great deal of what goes on here, and Ben, who is out the back organising yet something else—have found as we go round the country is that these kinds of roundtables can sometimes be really good. People bounce off each other and we get quite a lot of creativity going. I am not quite sure exactly where to start, but one place might be, given the importance that such a lot of you have put on it, the whole problem of foetal alcohol syndrome. I wonder if Paul Jeffries could talk about what he knows of the effects of it at the school.

Mr Jefferies —Before I do that, I am sure everyone at the table talked about Yiriman, but as the principal of the school I do not believe that you can support Yiriman enough. I should introduce Marmingee Hand. We call her our Aboriginal consultant. She is a local Walmajarri lady, a teacher in our school whom we have seconded to the admin team. Marmingee is my two-way partner. She will let me know when I have done something wrong and when it is important. I need Marmingee’s advice as my cultural consultant.

CHAIR —Marmingee is a very interesting name. What is its origin?

Ms Hand —Marmingee is a Nyigina lady. I was born on Nyigina country. It is an Aboriginal name that was given to me as a birth name. I was born in the Jubilee area and that name was given to me by the family members. So Marmingee is the Aboriginal name of somebody.

Mr Jefferies —In terms of Yiriman, I have seen the young men, particularly, return from their Yiriman experience as changed people, without a doubt. It is something that needs to be ongoing and supported. It should not be a magistrate telling these young men to go. It should be a diversionary program that is proactive. That is probably one of the key things that I wanted to mention. But, in terms of FASD and early life trauma, can I share a good news story? Often it is all about bad news.

CHAIR —We could do with one, actually.

Mr Jefferies —When I first came back to Fitzroy Crossing in 2008 to take on the role of principal, we had a young boy who was about six years old with FASD and early life trauma. He was a highly traumatised child. You would see this child exhibiting the signs of someone in post-traumatic stress. He was highly violent. At one stage he pulled a knife on a teacher. He was prone to uncontrollable outbursts of rage which would be taken out on the nearest object, whether it was a person, furniture or whatever. That young boy is now completely changed. Two years later he is actually able to manage himself. When he is in the sort of moment that is triggering post-traumatic stress scenarios he is able to negotiate a quiet withdrawal and he knows when he needs some quiet time. He will often reintegrate into the classroom within an hour of regulating himself.

That young boy is now eight or nine. The reason he is there is that it is a whole-of-child approach for that child. It is not only an interagency approach which involves various agencies within the town, such as education, health and DCP; the school is also funded or resourced in a way that we can support that child with a special-needs education assistant. Essentially, they are a social trainer. They are there to provide the quiet sort of knowledge and the patience so that they can develop the coping strategies in the child. That is one child out of what could be up to 80 FASD early-life trauma children in the school. I honestly believe that if we are resourced, if we continue with the strong interagency work that takes place in Fitzroy Crossing, we can actually turn around the lives of these young children who are heavily impacted by FASD and early-life trauma.

The only catch for me is that to be able to obtain resources I need to have the child diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, which means there needs to be an incident that has taken place and has been documented—usually it is documented by police charge sheets and things like that—so that we can actually prove that this child does have a high need.

FASD is not recognised—FASD is not recognised as a disability—yet paediatricians estimate that a quarter of my school population, at a minimum, is affected. Some say that when you look at the spectrum for FASD early-life trauma, when you look at the trauma that a lot of these children have coped with, it could be up to 80 per cent.

Mrs VALE —Paul, has an assessment tool been developed to diagnose a child as being affected by FASD?

Mr Jefferies —No.

Mrs VALE —So even that has not happened either?

Mr Jefferies —No, but there is some exciting stuff—

CHAIR —That is what Maureen has been talking about.

Mrs VALE —Yes.

Mr Jefferies —I think it is a testament to June, Emily and Maureen that there is the leadership group that has actually got the FASD ELT task force happening that has developed that relationship with the George Institute. So we are starting on a journey. But what concerns me in terms of juvenile justice is that, if you think you have got a problem now, just wait 12 years, when these young FASD traumatised children are going to be coming through. I know that with the right resources we can actually have an impact on their lives. Marmingee is a living example of what you can do when you have a whole-of-child approach in terms of some of the grandchildren that she supports and looks after. We know we can actually intervene with these young children, but we do not get the resources to do so and it is purely because they are in a grey area in terms of—

Mrs VALE —They are not recognised. Paul, what happens if you as a principal send the information up the pipeline to your superiors that you have got children that are suffering from this particular syndrome? Do they just say it does not exist?

Mr Jefferies —No, no. There would be hardly anyone in the education department that would say that the condition does not exist. What they say is that, in terms of funding it, it needs to be a prescribed disability—and because it is not a disability, because it is not recognised as a disability, there is no funding for it. It is as simple as that.

Mrs VALE —They do not have a box to put it in. They do not have a category to put it in.

Mr Jefferies —And because it is a spectrum disorder they are really not sure.

Mrs VALE —But it is not the first spectrum disorder around.

Mr Jefferies —No, but most spectrum disorders are further down the track in terms of diagnostic charts that they are able to use to determine just where they fit on that spectrum.

CHAIR —Thank you. There are quite a few people down the back who have not got a label at the moment, but if you want to say anything just put up your hand and we have got a roving microphone. By way of also introducing a new element into the discussion, I know that Commander Smalpage has got some statistics which it may be useful to throw in now.

Cmdr Smalpage —For those who do not know me, I am the Kimberley district superintendent. I have a couple of issues I want to talk about but, first and foremost, you have to recognise this is from a district perspective, this is Kimberley across the board, not just Fitzroy Crossing, because I will say that in many instances you are a model community compared to some other places where we do not have the same levels of interagency cooperation and support. Having said that, the issue of juvenile offending in itself is a highly complex issue for policing; it really tests the mettle of the 165 police officers scattered across the 13 police stations across the Kimberley. I want to make the point too that police provide the only 24-hour seven-day-a-week response to offending issues.

With the greatest respect, particularly for Broome, for example, you do not need to be a police officer or a district superintendent to figure out when you have got an eight-year-old child wandering the streets in the early hours of the morning unsupervised and unattended that they are likely to come into contact with police officers, generically speaking, and as reported elsewhere, for minor crime—for very minor things in the first instance.

It is the view of police that a number of barriers have failed those kids before they ever get to us. Those are barriers I have heard talked about here today in a variety of senses: from education, health, alcohol abuse, poor parental responsibility and role modelling—a number of well-documented items. So police are the interface, if you like, between the offending behaviours and lifestyles of these kids and the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, we often tend to get much of the criticism when the offending lifestyles and behaviours bring them before the court. I know most of the people here have not read the ALS submission to the review panel, and I do not want a harp on it, but I think it is a very simplistic document to target a narrow portion of offending and say, ‘If police just didn’t charge people all would be good in the world.’ We do not share that view. I think it is far more complex than that and, as we said, there are a number of barriers to it.

I will share with you the Kimberley statistics and I will leave a copy of the document here for anyone who is interested in it. The data is as of 28 March, so it is very recent, and it is reported crime data. In terms of how WA police monitor and report, this comes from each of the OICs in the Kimberley and it is by place, so as you flick through the document you will see Argyle, Fitzroy—all the police stations—and we report on categories of reported crime.

I can tell you that every category of reported crime is down except for burglary, motor vehicle theft and theft. And I can tell this group categorically that the offending profiles of those three categories of crime are Aboriginal youth, predominantly boys, between eight and 14 years of age. So we as Kimberley police have recognised that that is our single biggest focus for the forthcoming 12 months. As I said, we are often criticised for what we do not do, but I would like to share with this group that, as a result of our analysis of our data, we have recently had the Kimberley officer-in-charge conference, where we call together Ian Gibson and all the officers in charge of police stations right across the Kimberley, and we have identified juvenile offending as the No. 1 issue affecting our ability to police.

To give some roundness and balance to our view—bearing in mind that police officers may have a slightly different perspective from other community members—we called upon Dr Sue Gordon AM, chair of the Gordon inquiry and of the intervention in the Northern Territory. She presented to our group and raised a whole raft of cultural and significant issues as she saw them. So she whacked us right between the eyes—very good. We had His Honour, Judge Denis Reynolds, President of the Perth Children’s Court, and he also talked to us about his frustrations with the system and juvenile justice. And while I have this group collected here I will say: on some of those issues that he raised, we share his frustration. We also asked the solicitor in charge of the ALSWA’s Broome office to come and have a talk to us, because we needed a range of views, otherwise it would have been purely from a police perspective.

We also brought Clontarf and a number of other police officers together, and we discussed, over a period of two days: what can we do, as police, to do something constructive? As I mentioned earlier, the Western Australian police are a fairly action-orientated group. We understand the complexities of government. However, it was my view, and the view of the Kimberley police, that we were going to take action and we were not prepared to wait for a number of proposed strategies to come to the fore. As a result of that, we have developed a Kimberley juvenile offending reduction action plan. It has 14 key strategies, so it is quite complex. But all the officers in charge from across the Kimberley are going to be held accountable for how we manage: what can we do as police officers and parents to address that issue?

Dovetailing into that, I am also a member—and I know there are others here—of the Kimberley Interagency Working Group, which is the regional managers’ forum for government across the Kimberley. In representations to that group, I have raised the issue of juvenile offending and that we have to do something now. We have developed a youth at risk working group. That group has met and we are running a community response to our children program—CROP—in Kununurra. I have heard Paul talk about it. It is a multi-agency approach to managing children at risk. So, in the short term, we are hoping we are having a positive impact on children in the Kimberley.

I would just like to share with this group—and I know this is something that Western Australia Police do not market very well—that we have already got an existing three-tiered approach to supporting youth within the Kimberley, just by our presence, and I have heard some of the stuff about programs that are going on now across the breadth and depth of the Kimberley. We have a police and citizens youth club based in Broome. It is Broome-specific. There are a number of huge success stories about children who have been turned from offending lifestyles by the commitment of those police officers and their colleagues. We have strong men’s and women’s groups existing across the Kimberley at various police stations—one-on-one interaction with youth and people at risk. We run a number of blue light discos and there are other diversionary programs run by police to engage children. So that is our first tier: engaging youth in community. Plus, there is what we do at work.

There is also a second tier which probably, like every other government organisation here, we have not really captured. And the second tier of what we do to support youth in the communities is what we do in our private lives. I know of police officers across the breadth and depth of the Kimberley who are football coaches and umpires and football players, basketball coaches and netball coaches. They do these things in their own time to engage children—their own children included. Again, this is a second tier through which we believe we are contributing positively.

Lastly—and again I share this because I am sure the teachers here will agree with me—there is a third tier of support we offer, and that is through the wives and children and other family members of police officers in the Kimberley who provide community support in roles such as teachers’ aides. Partners of police officers across the Kimberley are nurses, doctors, teachers and teachers’ aides, and provide community support in numerous locations.

As a final word—and I know we do not often say it, and some are often overtly critical of us—I believe that, for the relatively small numbers of direct police officers we have in the Kimberley, those officers are actively taking as much of a proportion of the workload as they can because we see the Kimberley’s children as the future of the Kimberley. They have to be our focus. My conclusion is that there is much that can be done, but the broader issues are the key. By the time children interact with the police something else has failed, to get them to us in the first place. And that is where, I would suggest to this committee, our investment should be. It is too little too late when they are actually in custody at a police station. I can hand those documents around if anyone is interested in them—I will share those with you—and then I am happy to take any questions. If we successfully engage the children of the Kimberley, we will have the lowest reported crime statistics in decades.

CHAIR —Thank you. It is interesting that most crime categories are going down a lot.

Cmdr Smalpage —I can speak to that with some knowledge. We are attributing it to alcohol restrictions, particularly instances of reported domestic violence and non-domestic assaults. I would like to think it was some marvellous police initiative that we drove personally but it is not; it is a community collective and I am looking at the key supporters on the other side of the table. They have to take the attribution. The areas where we are struggling are, without exception, where a small number of children are committing a disproportionately high number of crimes. Whether they are minor or not is a matter for discussion—

CHAIR —I am aware of instances in my own electorate in New South Wales where the community thinks there is a crime wave and then you find out the crime wave is three 14-year-old boys robbing houses.

Cmdr Smalpage —That is the truth.

CHAIR —I do not want to dominate this conversation. I know that Travis Lupton and Steve and Bishop Saunders have not actually spoken otherwise during the day and perhaps they would like to. I think we would particularly like to know, especially against the background of what the Commander and the principal have just said, the kind of services you reckon you would like. We have got a much better idea than we had when we came here this morning obviously, but I would like you to remind us about what it is that government could do by way of funding and other actions that would help reinforce everything that has been going on.

Mr Dolby —I would like to speak about the justice system throughout the Kimberley. We see that most of our Indigenous people who are in prison for drunken driving are there for long terms. My opinion is that they should be sentenced to their community. I would like to see a change in the court system. Instead of them going to prison, I would like to see them sentenced to their community where they are of more benefit. While they are in prison, we are paying $100,000 a year for them to stay there. This is my own personal feeling and I feel very strongly about it: they should be sentenced to their community or the place they come from where we can get a bit of work out of them. Even with kids we send them down to Perth for stealing cars and whatever. I feel they should be sentenced to their community where we can care for them, tutor them and talk to them man to man and one on one. I think there is more benefit in them being here than being in Perth or in the prison system down there. That is what I feel. I have seen a young man go to jail for six or nine months for drunken driving while child molesters and murderers are still walking free. They take drunken driving very seriously. Why don’t they take the murderers and rapists and all of those people seriously? I think the system needs to change here somehow. You might have the power; I do not know.

CHAIR —Thanks. I know that Sergeant Gibson wants to say something but, for what it is worth, we had a lot of evidence yesterday from a number of different people, including the Chief Justice of Western Australia, who were worried about the way in which the current system works regarding punishment for driving offences, particularly for driver licence offences. I think, currently, the Western Australian government has a committee trying to do something about it. It is pretty weird—and it is not just a Western Australia problem; it happens everywhere—to have the same rules here for motor car licences and minor driving offences as exist in Perth. So many of the conditions are so different and the very strict rules about driver disqualification and whatever have some effects in remote places but not in cities. That is true everywhere across Australia. We are aware of that particular issue. I think that Sergeant Gibson wants to say something—and so does the bishop—in response to that passionate intervention.

Snr Sgt Gibson —In relation to what Louie just raised, and I totally agree with what he said, with respect to imprisonment for a drink driving offence there has been a series of drink driving offences that have led up to that imprisonment. Unfortunately, through lack of infrastructure in Fitzroy Crossing these offenders are being fined and the fines are increasing and getting to a stage where they become a warrant. Because we have no court service people who can advise our locals about transitioning those warrants to work and development orders they wind up spending a lot of time in prison. I do not want to see that happen because it has a negative impact upon us as well as we have to then execute the warrants, we have to keep them in custody and then we have to transport them to a facility in Broome. So it is a double whammy for everybody.

You are asking the question: what do you need to alleviate that? We need court support service people, court support officers who can be there to advise the offending people once they have finished in court. Because, let’s face it, half the people appearing before a court have no idea what the magistrate is saying to them, they have no idea what options are available to them in relation to the fines and transferring to work and development orders, so we need those people to support them, who will be there to advise them on how to approach the fine or the penalty. Following on from that, we need people to manage the work and development orders. Fitzroy Crossing does not have that facility, so we are smacked on both sides of the face. We want it, it is available but we cannot provide it because there is nobody to manage it. Again, we need to encourage people, whether it be—

CHAIR —But, if we had a more structured program within the law and culture centre, you would have.

Snr Sgt Gibson —Exactly. This is what I am saying: if we can encourage other organisations—and Marra Worra Worra, for example, is now taking on that responsibility—to take on that responsibility to manage the work and development orders we can channel more of those fine defaulters into those work and development orders, instead of into imprisonment. Earlier the question was asked: what can we do for youth in the town and what is available? Through KALACC they have managed to source funding for a youth coordinator. That sounds all well and good and it is about time that it happened, but a youth coordinator will not be the person walking the streets day and night, or during the afternoon, or going into the community to see what is happening with the youth. Obviously, a role of that youth coordinator will be to then source ongoing funding for youth workers, youth support people and counsellors. It will be 12 months, two years, three years down the track by the time we can source ongoing funding, housing, vehicles and all those sorts of things. If you are asking what resources we need for youth, those are what we need—ongoing funding for youth support workers to be on the street, on the ground, working with these kids. That is what is needed and it can be done through KALACC and through Yiriman. But, obviously, there is a cost involved in providing all these resources. That is what is required and it is required immediately, not in 12 months or two years time.

CHAIR —Thank you for that. We had a thought that we might ask Ronnie what he thought about the problem of people not understanding what happens in court. You are probably the best placed person in this room to talk about that.

Mr Jimbidie —I was waiting for my bit. Interpreting is very important. There is a lack of communication in this world, which everyone here knows. They can talk all day and still not anything is understood. But interpreting is very important. There are 60 languages in just the Kimberley alone.

CHAIR —Sixty?

Mr Jimbidie —Sixty, more or less. I may be corrected.

Ms Oscar —Thirty.

Mr Jimbidie —It must be going backwards. I have been interpreting for a few years now. Interpreting was introduced in 2002 or something to bring more understanding. Interpreting enables us to get the right story. I did one of my first interpreting jobs right here in this little area where we are now in the coroner’s inquiry into deaths in custody. We have problems. You might talk standard English or Kriol or pidgin or whatever, but they all come in different ways. I was in a situation in which two Aboriginal people did not understand each other, and they were both talking Kriol. It is to do with communication and getting the true stories. Steven quoted that old bloke Frank Burn. He lost his parents a long time ago and he was looking for a cave in the Mimbi Caves—I was also working at the Mimbi Caves—and he could not tell me the history of the Mimbi Caves. He was asking everybody, and his old man said, ‘That’s the one there.’ But ‘one’ means one hundred or more caves in the Devonian reef. So there was a lack of communication in that story. I said, ‘How am I going to interpret this one?’ I thought that I would go one by one and try to make it work. We found the cave, by the way.

We find it really hard in the court system. Even I as an interpreter find it difficult. You have your lawyer degree languages, you have your politics—whatever; all these things. You are brainstorming. You are sitting in the middle and trying to get the right understanding and the right stories told. It is very hard, especially in the court system.

CHAIR —I was told by a lawyer friend of mine in the Northern Territory that he called a young man as a witness in a case and when the witness got in the box and my friend asked him a question he said, ‘I’m guilty.’ There was a problem of understanding what was going on. A few people had their hands up, but I feel as though the bishop has been incredibly patient all day.

Mrs Maclagan —I have worked with children and youth for a long time—all my life, literally—and children in trouble. There are two major things which I have 35 years experience of that would make a huge difference here. They are relatively simple. One of them has already been mentioned. The PCYC should never be taken lightly. I was involved with the PCYC for 3½ years in Roebourne. Roebourne has a crime rate—and I have brought this up at meetings here before—that makes this place look it is already heaven. The fences and those sorts of things are important. You can talk all day, but the children being bored is one reason for crime.

There is a set amount of children in our community and they want to do things without adult supervision—and it does not matter if they are rich or poor or what colour they are. We were all kids once. They want to go somewhere and do things without adult supervision. The suggestion is that skate parks and bike parks answer that question. I will get back to PCYC in five seconds. If you put a skate park and a bike park here in this community and in every community you levelled a piece of ground and stuck four truckloads of dirt on it, everybody here who still has a kid inside them will tell you that they will spend days out there with a bike playing in that dirt, riding that dirt and doing whatever they can with that dirt. It would keep them out of trouble. There is no adult supervision, and they do not need adult supervision. If they have an accident, well.

Money-wise we need a proper skate park. If we got our youth who are in trouble involved with the building of the skate park, maybe painting a wall or putting in some plants so that they had some ownership of that area, children could go there at two o’clock in the morning if nobody could supervise them. They can ride their bikes around, and who cares. If there is an accident, that is the way it is with children: we can only protect them so much. We need a skate park and a bike park in this town, and it has to be an area, like with the swimming pool, that does not really belong to anybody. If it were considered in all the separate communities, it would be a way to occupy children at all hours of the day and night when they do not want to be wherever they have to be of if they have been thrown out of school or whatever excuse it is.

The PCYC has an incredible history which hardly anybody knows, even some of the policemen. I know that one policeman here does, because he has met me before. If you look up its history, it was put together during the Second World War, when the men were overseas and the ladies were working in factories, for children in trouble. There are a lot of false stories about why it was put together and there are false things that people say do and do not happen there. It was originally put together—you can look it up on your computers—for kids in trouble.

The PCYC has levels. If I get this wrong from my last homework, because it has been a while, I am going to get railed at here. It has levels that you qualify for. As far as I know the structure of PCYC, we qualify for every level, which means that Broome has a great PCYC. I believe Carnarvon was doing a good job with PCYC. Towns as big as Fitzroy should at least have a small PCYC. I know from past experience that two adults with the right attitude can handle 130 kids at PCYC for four hours a night, six days a week, because I have had to do it. They are occupied. It costs very little money.

PCYC has everything from certificated things that the kids can do to simple youth groups. There are the blue light discos. They can go off and do canoeing and cliff trawling and courses and qualify for things—like a mini TAFE. PCYC has incredible levels. PCYC run correctly is the one place where the worst kid should not be banned. I had this out once before. Even if they played up really bad at PCYC, the most we used to do is take them outside for some cool-off time and go out and find out what the heck was wrong and then we would put them back in there, because they are there to stop them from going out and smashing up and doing crime and stuff like that.

If we can get PCYC off the ground here, it would make a huge difference to kids. It might sound a little silly, but most of you are mothers and grandmothers and, if nothing else, when you stick your kids in four hours of PCYC, they go home too tired to roam the streets and get into trouble. Things like that come from PCYC. They are my two main things. If you want to talk about money, that is where we want to put it.

CHAIR —Thank you.

Bishop Saunders —What I say will be an anticlimax after that—good on you! There have been some wonderful things said here today. I have read some of the submissions. I think a lot of us are working very hard and trying to be on the same page about things. I am speaking Kimberley-wide now; I would probably be least qualified in this room to speak about Fitzroy Crossing, and I grew up in places like Bidyadanga and Broome, so I have a broadbrush point of view.

It seems to me that the areas that we need to carefully look at are laws and their application, our structures to deal with those who fall foul of the law, and lastly our attitudes individually and as a group, as a society. I think there are areas in which we are failing in all of those regards. We spoke about the matter of driving licences, so I will not go over that again. We have before us in West Australia the reality of mandatory sentencing, which I think is an extraordinarily silly thing to do. If you want to let the courts do their job, I do not think mandatory sentencing helps at all.

There is also the possibility in our laws of bringing in this right for the police to stop and search, and I know a number of the police are actually opposed to that so-called innovation. I think that that, along with mandatory sentencing, is one of the reasons why between 2001 and 2007 the Indigenous juvenile detention rate increased by 27 per cent. We are talking about reducing it. While I am very happy to hear of the police talking about reducing crime here—that is going to be a great help—what are we doing with those who are offending?

A while ago at the Billard summit on youth suicide, one of the attendees at the summit said, ‘It’s not about service delivery; it’s about setting right relationships and it’s about healing deep wounds.’ I think that is our starting point. Whether we are health people, education people, church people, police people, community services or whatever, if that is our point of departure I think we have a greater chance of success than if we take it from any other point of view.

I think our cultural attitudes are inadequate, and I speak as a churchman but I speak also as a citizen of this country. I do not want Murray, my dear friend, to think that I am anti police—he knows I am pro police. But there are attitudinal problems amongst all those, including the police, who deliver services into the communities. Those attitudinal problems come through and actually increase the aggression that comes from some of the youth towards our structures, towards institutions, towards those people in authority. Those attitudes turn the life of crime, for instance, into something heroic. Common parlance amongst young people is that if you can make the police ‘pull’—if you run away at night and make them chase you—there is something great in that.

Where is all that coming from? Interestingly enough, I had two priests in Broome, one black and white. The black guy was pulled up four times and had his licence checked; for the white guy, none. If you are a European, you would say that is coincidence. If you are a Chinaman, you would say, ‘Well, that’s fate.’ If you an Aboriginal, I do not know what you would say, but it is interesting. So where is that coming from? There is a problem there, but it is not just a police problem—it is the rest of us too—and I think this issue of cultural awareness for those working in this cross-cultural situation is something we need to be thumping. Whether we are in education or church, our people who are coming to work here and deliver services in health or whatever it is need to go through very strict and well-defined cultural awareness programs. I think that that will help break down some of the animosity that exists, because animosity is the breeding ground of crime, I think, amongst other things. I am not dismissing matters like alcohol or drugs. We have already spoken about those, so I do not want to go over the same ground again.

Our attitudes need to change dramatically. I think we have had some marvellous things happen with the police and the police aids, for instance, in the past. I think that needs reworking. Teachers aids are the same, and our health aids too. I think that all of those bring a newness and a freshness to positive development in human relations that in itself eventually results in a reduction of crime and a reduction of juvenile delinquency.

Obviously, the no-brainers are that there needs to be an increase in services in the area of health, particularly mental health, to help those who are not dealing with their environment well. There needs to be an increase in resources and a particularising of resources in the area of education and employment. While a lot of these youngsters have nowhere to go and nothing to do in these towns—you know what they say about idle hands—you are going to have temptation there. There need to be real employment programs put into place.

I agree with Pauline on that idea of the PCYC. They have done a fantastic job in Broome. I would like to see them here. Perhaps it is a stupid wish list but if only they could come to somewhere like Fitzroy Crossing, but there are other places too. I am a product of PCYCs in another state. I enjoyed the goodness that came out that relationship that I had with them then. I am sure it is something that could happen here. I think we need to look very carefully at our laws and very carefully at our structures and our attitudes. I think they are quite often at the heart of all the problems that we have. Finally, I would simply like to say that for most young Indigenous people—and I speak as a senior chaplain at Broome jail, which is not dealing with youngsters but is dealing with the older ones, who are the graduates—

CHAIR —We are concerned with young adults too.

Bishop Saunders —Okay. I think they need to be in a social welfare system, not a criminal justice system. I think that is at the heart of what we ought to be doing. I do not want to hog this so I will finish there.

CHAIR —Thank you.

Mr Green —I am a local. I am the chairman of the Junjuwa community. I hear that we have all these problems. Alcohol is one of them. All our organisations get funded for service. We hear half of them are not funded properly. Sometimes we need to have them reviewed to see if we are on track. There are other communities that have worked in the past. In our community we have 350-plus. We have 100 houses. All that is managed elsewhere now because other organisations were managing it all and never managed it properly, so the regulatory body needs to do their bit to help us improve our quality of life. Recently, on the weekend just gone by, I have had kids come up fighting on my street. I thought what is this? Across the road there have been members of other communities coming into houses. I have reported that to the superintendent in the past. I have see on the news where people in Sydney are creating rages and chasing other people through the street. Here in Fitzroy people are allowed to go into other communities and taunt people that do not have very many relatives. Nothing gets done about it. Busloads of them come into Junjuwa. They came into my community the other day, twice to one house. I wonder if we are ever going to change and I asked the superintendent, ‘Is the policing in Aboriginal affairs ever going to change?’ So, yes, we have many problems. I guess it is like I am saying now. These regulatory bodies need to do their job from time to time and check. We are getting a lot of money into this community, and you can see where it is all going.

CHAIR —Thank you.

Ms Hand —I am from the Fitzroy Valley District High School. Last week we had workshops on what they called a safer community and on building up our kids. A lady came to our school and ran a series of workshops with our teachers as well as the kids in our classrooms. One of the things that she did was to do a map of the Fitzroy township. That map had different things that the kids had to do. That map showed where there were safe places, unsafe places and at-risk places. It was one of the best things that I have ever seen with the kids giving their views, telling us where the safe places were around Fitzroy and where they would be taking a risk—good data for the police, the health people and any other people who would like to look at that. It is something that is coming from the kids themselves, saying that these areas are safe or unsafe for them and where there are things that people are doing illegally. It is a really good thing with information for us here in the Fitzroy community.

CHAIR —That is fascinating.

Ms Hand —It is something that is coming out positive. I know that one of COAG’s seven building blocks is building a safer community. What better way is there than to get the information from our kids before they get into crime and stuff like that. That is something that our school is doing in relation to building a safer community for our kids.

CHAIR —I think the problem I am going to describe is worse in less remote places, but a lot of communities say that there is not somewhere safe to take kids or that it is hard to find somewhere safe to take kids who are on the street and who have trouble at home. I suspect here that you can always find a relative for them to be safe with. Do people think there is a need for a safe place for kids, a bail hostel or some other arrangement where police or community members can take a kid who is in danger?

Ms Hand —I think collecting and looking at the information is important. What agencies do around here is support those kids, because they are the ones who are choosing. The tourist bureau is highlighted as a safe place. Some of their own houses are unsafe places. There are some places that are unsafe because of sexualised behaviour. The kids put down where those things are happening. That is a really good indication to all of us here who service the community. We can look at it and ask how we can help and support these kids. It is about building a safer community, whether it is at Kurnangki, Mindi Rardi, Junjuwa or wherever. It is about having a really good, safe environment for our kids. I know what Patrick said. The incident that happened at Junjuwa impacted on our kids at the school.

I was just listening to the lady who spoke earlier. She talked about the PCYC. As a long-time volunteer, running programs for kids in the valley, taking kids out, I know that our recreation centre at the moment is being used as a supermarket. That is where our kids went to do afternoon programs. There is lots of other stuff that has impacted upon Fitzroy Valley. I guess all of us here need to look at what our kids are telling us.

CHAIR —There is one issue that we have often come across while we have been having our hearings. I have not heard it so much here, I must say. There is a complaint that government departments come and do things without talking to one another. I think you partly overcome that because such a lot of government department work takes place through Aboriginal organisations. Perhaps we could start with Travis, who has to worry about this a lot. Have you got anything to tell us about ways in which we could better focus the activity of government departments so that we do not waste a lot of energy?

Sgt Lupton —Through my position at the local operations centre for remote service delivery, I know that when any outside government agencies want to visit the valley then a visitor’s notice is sent to us first off, advising us when they are going to visit, where they are going to visit and who the contact person is. If they are visiting a particular community, we make inquiries with that community to see whether it is suitable for them to attend, whether any issue is occurring at that community, such as sorry time—which is when someone passes away—or whether another department is going to be there on that particular day so that there is no clash and community people do not become confused.

It also gives us the opportunity to identify whether there are two particular agencies that are doing exactly the same job, attending at the same time. So that gives us the opportunity to get back in touch with that agency and say, ‘Have you actually spoken to this other agency, because we know they’re coming over for that particular reason.’ Although it is very much in its infancy—and bear in mind I have only been in this position for three weeks—I think the very small results it has been showing in the last fortnight shows that it is going to be quite successful. It will give us the opportunity to not bombard this particular area with the fly-in fly-out seagulls, as they are normally referred to.

CHAIR —We were careful not to bring too many seagulls with us!

Ms Oscar —If I might just add to that. Prior to COAG, Closing the Gap and then the remote service delivery in Fitzroy being one of the four sites in the Kimberley—and Travis has just outlined what the local operation centre here would be doing in terms of managing government representatives coming in and out of Fitzroy Valley—there was a forum established here, after much community consultation and engagement, called the Fitzroy Futures Forum. It includes Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people coming in. It has a governing committee that has representatives of the four language groups here in the valley. It has representatives of the three tiers of government and three positions from the community. We are all appointed by the Minister for Indigenous Affairs in this state.

There is the governing committee that also receives and makes decisions on funding that is allocated to this community direct from Treasury that funds Lighthouse projects in the valley. The whole valley, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, can apply for those funds. The governing committee assesses each of the applications. It has supported to date many positive things in the community. There is a forum that is held prior to the governing committee meeting which allows for residents of Fitzroy, service providers and visiting government agencies to inform and be informed. It is a model that is working for this community. It is very much valley focused and it has the support of senior executive managers/directors general in this state and in the Commonwealth.

CHAIR —You are good at inventing these kinds of things, aren’t you?

Ms Oscar —We want things to work! So that is the process that is there. In our view the COAG is a program, if you like, that has been established with a timeframe of five to 10 years. Fitzroy Futures was established prior to COAG and it will still be there once the Closing the Gap strategy is wound up, however and whenever that happens. We do not know what things will be like after the coming election. So, for sure we have a forum here where anyone can come and present their views and be informed, and it is working. We are about making that work better. It is new, it needs to be reviewed and it needs to improve. This is in response to your question about management of fly-in fly-out.

CHAIR —Is it the consequence of these arrangements that you do not feel so irritated by people flying in and flying out?

Ms Oscar —We used to be, but I think we are managing it a lot better. The other thing I want to add in support of the Yiriman workers presenting today is that we need more investments into the Yiriman type projects. We need to acknowledge that we are operating in a linguistically and culturally diverse community. No one size fits all, just because we are all Aboriginal people and just because we live in this area, when it comes to managing juvenile offenders or other areas—education, health and so on. We have been promoting the fact that Fitzroy is a culturally diverse community and, with the four language groups, a linguistically diverse community. But we also live in the real world, where we are being impacted upon by developments that we have no control over, and we need to be like this, sitting at the table and making the decisions around those issues. But we cannot overlook the fact that in this community language is alive and that law and culture exist, and we need people coming into this community to have respect for those fundamental basics that live here and that shape who we are as Aboriginal people.

CHAIR —I do not know what to ask anymore.

Mr Isbister —Can I talk about safe houses?


Mr Isbister —In every community there are one or two families that always stand out in looking after children. Children are always attracted to those power points. My house is one of them in my community; a lot of kids come there. But from time to time we run out of food and transport and other things. So in looking after the safe houses there probably needs to be some sort of support mechanism, whether it is recognition by the DCP or organisations which say, ‘Okay, let’s support them with the basics to support children.’ That does not happen, and a lot of safe houses send a lot of children away because they cannot give them even the basics, like a feed or a bed for the night. We do run out of mattresses and stuff. We do stack them up on the ground from time to time. But it would be helpful if some of those houses could be recognised. They do exist, let me tell you.

CHAIR —We have been talking for hours now, and most of the people in the room have heard all the conversation. I am sure that Danna and I could not express our appreciation strongly enough for the way you have provided us with information that I hope we can turn into something useful for you. As I have said to you before, there is a big government program called Closing the Gap, which attempts to say that in a whole lot of areas, like health and education, there will be targets to be set and reached within 10 years. It is a more serious and carefully planned program than, I think, has ever existed before, but we are aware that under that program there are very good arguments for having more investment and more planning to fix the problem of crime and improve the safety of Aboriginal communities.

I would be very happy if anyone feels that they would like to make a contribution, but my final question is: has anybody got any kind of idea about why the rate of imprisonment of juvenile and young adult Aboriginal people is so much higher in Western Australia than it is in the Northern Territory?

Mr Rodrigues —I have been in Fitzroy for about 10 years. I have seen people come and go and promise Fitzroy a lot of things. I understand what these ladies have done in the past two years. Even though we are the licensees for the two pubs in town, we totally agree with the fact that they need more support. Every time you read in the paper that everything in Fitzroy is good, it makes the work for these ladies even harder, because there is no extra support coming in to Fitzroy. They are getting to a stage where enough will be enough and the more they ask for they will not get it. We want Fitzroy to grow and move forward. We need to have support, counselling, and alcohol and drug counsellors in town—not people who just drive into town, where it is said to them ‘I’ve got a job for you’ and they work for three months. They learn the basics and off they go and we are no better off. We have issues—

CHAIR —You need youth workers, drug and alcohol counsellors and mental health. This is an important list. Those are three sorts. Are there others?

Ms Oscar —Resourcing safe houses in communities.

Mr Isbister —To make all those work, you need housing. Every government agency, including the shire, cannot put in extra resources because there are no houses for subsidised—

Mrs VALE —No accommodation.

CHAIR —I am no expert on this, but there is a big heap of money for housing. In that case, it is a question of getting that going here.

Mr Rodrigues —The other point I want to get across is about police. I run the supermarket. We had a supermarket but it burnt down on 8 July last year. We are at the rec centre at the moment. We have been there for eight months. I know that a lot of people in the town are not happy about us being there because it stops a lot of sports, recreation and stuff. Over the weekend we had a carnival. I thought that went really well.

Ms Hand —Yes.

Mr Rodrigues —On that point, we have had three break-ins this week—Sunday, Monday and last night. It was a huge one last night. In the eight months we have been there that was the 24th break-in we have had in Fitzroy. Again, going back to police, I know their hands are a bit tied because they are dealing with young kids. The ages—from the superintendent, Murray Smalpage—are between eight and 14 at the moment. My question is: have we got any programs in place for the five- to seven-year-olds so that, when they get to the age of eight and 14, they are not doing the same thing? We are going through a wave of people who are breaking in and nothing is happening. A new wave is coming in and it is all happening again. It is fair enough to create programs for the eight- to 14-year-olds, but do we have anything in place to start working on the five- to seven-year-olds, before they get to the age of eight to 14?

Mrs VALE —Could you tell us what they stole when they broke in? Was it food?

Mr Rodrigues —There was more damage than stolen goods. It was more Coke. Last night, it was three 1.25 litres of Coke, two cans of Coke and a drill. I now have to drill all my doors down. I screw all the doors down at night-time and open them in the morning. They broke the door in and took the drill, so I do not have the drill to open the doors and the supermarket is closed today. There was a considerable amount of damage on the doors and on the other side of the take-away window. Obviously the guys are still trying to get that fixed. It has cost us more to claim on insurance, because of excess, but the damage is always more than the goods stolen.

Mrs VALE —You are a supermarket. Do you sell other things at the supermarket? It is food that they are taking.

Mr Rodrigues —They took some dirty magazines—Playboy and Hustler—and a two-litre container of ice-cream. In total, there was about $22,000 worth of damage in 24 break-ins. It affects me and my wife. I get there in the morning and it knocks the wind out of me. I think, ‘What the hell am I doing?’ Everybody in town knows that the supermarket burnt down and it was a big impact on the community. People were worrying about where they were going to get their food, and within 5½ days we got ourselves together with help from other people and we got the rec centre going. It was not our preferred choice to put the supermarket there. We have had issues with insurance, regarding who is going to pay for what and how much we should pay.

CHAIR —Are those issues still going on?

Mr Rodrigues —They were supposed to start work this week, but because of Easter they are going to move all the blokes up on Tuesday. So we will probably start seeing something on Tuesday.

CHAIR —So it is a week before they start building the new supermarket?

Mr Rodrigues —Yes. So things are moving on, but we are about four months behind now because of the issues we have had with the insurance. But, yes, I agree we need more services in this town to support the work that people are doing—and they have done it for a while. As I said, I have seen people come and go. They get disappointed and then walk away—good people. We do not support them and have the right people to do these jobs. Just one more thing: with the police, even though they try their utmost to get the juveniles and they do get them, and I go into meetings with juveniles when they go to that other—what is that called again?

Cmdr Smalpage —The juvenile diversionary program.

Mr Rodrigues —and I talk to these kids and there is a police officer and all that. And I give these people jobs. I give these people a way to repay me. I ask them, ‘Come to work in the supermarket on Saturday and see how hard it is,’ but they do not turn up. So to me it seems the justice system has in a way failed these young kids. I heard what Ronnie and those guys were saying, that something has got to change. Don’t get me wrong; I do not have the answer. But something has got to change.

CHAIR —Thank you. Louie, I really like your hat.

Mr Dolby —A lot of people are talking about my hat. I was thinking about putting it on eBay. I might send it off—see if I can win a house or something! Anyway, getting back to your story, how to stop crime or whatever. That was your question?

CHAIR —My question is: it is the case that the proportion of Indigenous kids in jail or juvenile detention centres in Western Australia is much higher than anywhere else; do you have any idea why that is?

Mr Dolby —I will come up to the table and give you something. I have been working with Yiriman as well. This is something for you to read and think about: are you going to help me? The reason is that there are not enough people supporting young people in the community. My wife and I live 120 kilometres out of town, on Mount Pierre, and we have kids out there. I get kids from New South Wales and from Queensland, but I am not advertising or anything; they ring me up. People ask me to motivate their kids or discipline them—get them going, mainly, in the workforce, and I have done that.

I have success stories to tell. I had an 18-year-old young man come up to me. His father wanted him to be motivated—he could not motivate his son himself—so I told him to bring him to me. I motivated him. He went back to Queensland, and his father rang me up and said, ‘Thank you; I got my son back.’ Another family brought their son to me, again from Queensland, and this young man did not even know how to sweep the floor or mop up or wash the dishes. I got that young man motivated. He is working in Broome now. He has got a job. His mother and he bought a bed and breakfast in Broome. These are success stories. If one out of 10 can change, I am happy.

There are a few stories to tell, but there is no support from any government departments. I went to the welfare department and the ministry of justice asking for support: nothing. Everything me and my wife do we do out of our own pockets. There is no support from any government department. My son won a scholarship and I took him over to North America and South America, and there was no support from the government—nothing. The thing is that we do not get enough support to support our children here. The cost of living is very high here in Fitzroy Crossing. We pay big money to buy one bag of groceries. With $200 you could get out to Derby and get $500 worth of groceries.

I suggest that the justice system, like I said earlier on, instead of sending the young people to prison, sends them out to our community so that we can work them. Simon can tell you the same story. The young people I had at my place were worked; I worked them hard. They were too tired to think about stealing or anything! Most of the time we support them, we help them, we give them more energy to go and steal. We need to work them, not take them for a joyride. Most of the time we take them out and say, ‘You’ve been a good boy.’ No—work them. Make them go to sleep. Seven o’clock or six o’clock—they should sleep. That is why our prison system is overcrowded.

Cmdr Smalpage —I am nodding my head; I agree. For the record, I have personally praised the Yiriman Project to the Attorney-General. There are, unfortunately, limited opportunities for the police to force people. Those who will not go to these things are usually those who are the worst offenders. They will not go until there is intervention comes and it becomes a court-ordered project. For the benefit of the committee I share the frustration that is felt because the bureaucracy itself puts barriers in the way in terms of insurance, working with children and a whole raft of complexities, in what would seem to be a fairly commonsense approach.

Mrs VALE —And sometimes, like we have spoken about here before, the only way you can get young people on these particular programs to start with—no matter how much they enjoy them and how much, when they have finished, they feel they have experienced personal growth—is with the impetus of a court order or a suspended sentence.

Cmdr Smalpage —I share the frustrations. If children of a tender age will not go to school and will not do what their parents want, they often ignore court orders as well. So, yes, there needs to be a degree of compulsion. If they have the choice of whether or not to go and work, they will not. But I agree: I think it is a good initiative.

Mrs VALE —I think it is very similar to the drug courts we have in New South Wales. those people actually have to be compelled to go to the drug courts.

Mr Dolby —Another thing that needs to be set up in communities is boot camp. We could get a boot camp going. Nearly every community or town needs a boot camp. If we work young people and talk to young people, they will change.

CHAIR —I think it is fair to say that around the world there have been a lot of studies of boot camps and they almost invariably show that it is better to have something like Yiriman than it is to have an American style boot camp.

Mr Dolby —It is just a figure of speech.

Mrs Dolby —I come from Mount Pierre Station, 120 kilometres out of Fitzroy—

CHAIR —And the eldest of 10 children—I have just read that.

Mrs Dolby —I am, yes. How do you know?

CHAIR —Louie just gave me a document that told me that.

Mrs Dolby —Every meeting we have gone to, and my grandparents and other people have said, and whenever we have been talking about things like this, one thing does not change—Aboriginal law does not change; white man’s law changes every five years.

CHAIR —That is a good point.

Mrs Maclagan —We have known each other a long time—most of these people have. We run Mac’s Mechanics here. We moved back to this town because of the good things that were happening here. We have moved home. We are not going anywhere. Everyone who knows my kids in this town knows that I am going to say something—and I will get myself shot politically, but I do not care. My kids do not have colour. My kids just belong to this town and are young adults. We employ young people and we want to employ more young people. We are struggling to employ young people in our business at the moment. We employed one young man and he turned out to be a dream and we employed another young man and he was a dream too and we love him dearly. But we were not getting support. We have got exactly the same problem in running this business. We are not being supported—and I know I am going to be hit by someone here—by TAFE properly. We are struggling getting that support with their bookwork. We are struggling getting anybody to come and help us with anything so we are saying the same thing as Louie here. We are not getting support as a private business here in this town for what we want to do, which is work with youth. That is what we have always wanted to do. We want to encourage youth. When our youths working for us got into trouble we did not get any support. We did not have any way of getting any help or anything else.

CHAIR —What do you mean by ‘support’?

Mrs Maclagan —We are ringing TAFE all the time—we are doing the work. Our own son and now this other young man are going through TAFE with apprenticeships and we have to continually ring TAFE to get their books, get their things, and get things done. As a small family business that is up and running, as Louie says, we even have to pay for things like the children’s courses because they cannot afford them themselves. We are not really looking for financial support—we are going to make that up ourselves—but we are looking for support. We are looking to TAFE to do its job. When young people are working for us they are given a family environment. Everyone knows how we treat them and everything goes along fine. But other things happen in the environment where they start to get into trouble and we do not get support. We could not get anybody to come and help us or encourage us and we lost some staff.

CHAIR —It sounds like you would be helped if we got some of those youth workers, for instance.

Mrs Maclagan —Yes, we would.

Mr Rodrigues —Just to clarify something. I brought up some questions at the last the Fitzroy Futures meeting—and obviously I was representing Leedal—dealing with the Department of Housing. It was regarding the media release of 21 April 2009 by honourable Jenny Macklin and Brendon Grylls about the hostels in the Kimberley. It has come to our attention that in the short term Fitzroy Crossing is not getting one. I think that it is important for the community to be aware of that. Obviously I do not need an answer from you guys at the moment but is there any chance we can find out about a hostel for Fitzroy? We offered the land for the hostel to be built in Fitzroy. We have been knocked back because in the short term Fitzroy is not getting one. I just want to clarify that and I would like to know whether we are going to get one or not.

Mr Jimbidie —When I am not interpreting, I work with tourism in Mimbi, Girloorloo Tours. Also there is a program happening with the Rural Leadership Program from Canberra next month. Judy has been on board and I would like to get support from Judy and Simon. Thinking about all these leadership things for young kids, there is a history out there about the Devonian Reef—the history there, blackfella story, Dreamtime, tjukurpa dreaming—everything is all there and it is in the backyard, in the Gooniyandi country on the road of this fellow here, our next door neighbour. There are big caves there that have lots of story. We share a dreamtime story with the mudlark and the blue tongued lizard which is told by Walmajarri, Wangkatjungka and Gooniyandi people and ended up in Mangala country. Simply saying when the dreaming took place, how they communicated and shared the land together, in a simple way, in Walmajarri, I could say—

Mr Jimbidie then spoke in Walmajarri—

We mix-married in all the four tribes, the group that are in this Fitzroy Valley right now. That is a really big understanding to me in the Walmajarri. I did not understand when I was a kid. Growing up, I did not go to Walmajarri school but I have learned that. I am an interpreter now. That is why I see it as really important, and I see that blackfellas are going to bear this word. They were both right, but they did not understand each other to communicate and understand properly what the story was—what he said, what he meant by using that English word. I can feel sometimes with these English words that I am using the wrong word. I get myself in trouble.

Anyway, I want to start. I would like to see something with the leadership program happening in Mimbi itself for the locals. I need support. I have written letters and everything to people and everything else, and I am still waiting. I even approached the media for housing. They have been there for nine years; there is still no housing there, and we have got to run a business. Finally we got approvals for our campsite for tourism this year. Maybe one day it will happen.

My big concern is the young people who are suffering here in the valley, when they can go hop, step and jump to their history out there. They go, ‘Oh, but I didn’t know this and that.’ They come and see the cave and I tell them the story. I am a Walmajarri from the Great Sandy Desert—you saw that over there—from my grandfather’s side. I am in that Gooniyandi country and I feel very strong. We lost one of our members there. I was strong when he was alive, but when he was gone I felt weak. I want a bit more support from the other Gooniyandi people.

CHAIR —Thank you.

Mr Keenan —I am from the Yiriman Project. I just come back to what the superintendent was saying before about having legislation to compel young people to participate in certain projects, which is a very important thing. But also we are talking about prevention before people even get to that stage. I would like to acknowledge the importance of the roles played particularly by adult mentors and leaders. From my experience working with Yiriman and working with Steven in his role, these are the people who are key to engaging young people and getting them involved. We have done trips out on country which go for two weeks, walking 150 kays through the desert. How are you going to get anyone to sign up for that? They have not been compelled to do that, but they have done it because we have had people like Steven, and there are many other people who have been able to continuously put in time and effort. We have been fortunate enough to employ someone on a full-time basis. People like that are like a Pied Piper, and young people follow them around. I would like to see support for resourcing to employ more Aboriginal people that are adult mentors and leaders to work with the amazing skills that already exist within the community, to be acknowledged for those skills and to be able to further strengthen the relationships which are so important throughout generations. They are very important roles that really act as glue. I think that is a very important part of having people participate in healthy projects.

CHAIR —That seems like a really good moment to end and to acknowledge, as I say, the tremendous effort you have put into providing us with so much information today. We are very grateful and we hope that, when we do our report, it will reflect your views and, more importantly, as a consequence, some of the policies of government will be changed. If anyone leaves here thinking that the Yiriman initiatives were unsupported they must be deaf.

Mrs VALE —Could I just add to that. You have welcomed us to your country this morning. As we finish, can I thank all of you for your welcome. Thank you for this opportunity for letting us hear about your solutions to some of the problems or challenges that you face here. I personally have found it a very profound and moving experience to hear you. We have been looking for the answers to the high Indigenous juvenile incarceration rate, particularly here in Western Australia. It seems to me that there is never, ever one silver bullet but there are a heck of a lot of answers that are here in this room that we have heard. You have some programs up and running and you have found successes. I have no doubt, Maureen, that your FASD strategy will also meet with equal success because of the way you are going about it, the professionalism that you bring to it and the support you will get from the whole community here in Fitzroy. I hear what you say, John, about making sure that we do not say, ‘Hey, all the problems of Fitzroy are finished.’ They are not, because we want to make sure that you get the funding that you all so deserve. We will be doing our report. One thing I would ask of the secretariat and the chair is to make sure that this community gets copies of our report. Then you can go and take that report to government officials and say, ‘See, this was a recommendation of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.’ I would like to think it would give you some leverage. We have had some good success in getting ministers to take up recommendations. To everyone: congratulations on what you have done so far. It has been very inspirational.

Mr Lawford —With respect to accommodation, when you were talking about schools in some areas, what about the old Fitzroy School? We could use that as a training centre. It is history: we went to school there. Just build it around that. It could be a good training centre for a whole lot of young people.

On behalf of the traditional owners Olive Knight closed the meeting—

Committee adjourned at 3.23 pm