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Broome police hospitalised by ram raid three days after local crime conference

Giovanni Torre -

Two police officers in Broome were taken to hospital with injuries after being rammed by a stolen 4WD early on Friday morning, just days after a two-day conference in the town on tackling rising crime.

A WA Police spokesperson told the National Indigenous Times that at about 1.45am Friday morning a police vehicle was on patrol in Broome when it was rammed by another vehicle near Forrest Street.

"As a result of being rammed the police vehicle left the road and struck a tree. The two officers were taken to hospital by St John Ambulance - their injuries are not life threatening. Local police and detectives are continuing to search for the vehicle involved," they said.

It is believed that the vehicle that was slammed into police was the 4WD stolen from the Lions Eye Clinic in Broome overnight.

It was announced on social media that the Clinic would not open Friday after a break-in at the clinic.

"Our Lions Outlook Vision 4WD was stolen and rammed the gate to escape. Thankfully Broome police are in attendance even though 2 officers were injured. Very sad day for Broome," it read.

Martin Sibisado, Co-Founder and Director of Aboriginal United Services, and a veteran of Indigenous business and training services in the region, was one of the attendees at the meetings on Monday and Tuesday in Broome held to discuss crime in the region.

"We had a fairly high-powered meeting in terms of Kimberley Aboriginal leadership.

"The superintendent from Kimberley police presented information. There are around 200 known youth offenders in the Kimberley. My understanding of the demographics and data in the region is that is there are around 17,000 Aboriginal people in Kimberley and 40% are under 24. That equates to around 6,800 young people.

"Yes, it is unacceptable what is going on with the level of crime, but we have to be careful it doesn't escalate. There is even talk on social media about vigilante action."

Mr Sibisado said that unless Aboriginal families and communities are engaged in the solution "it could quickly escalate to become a racial issue, and we don't want that â€" everyone cool your jets, let's deal with the evidence."

"200 out of less than 7,000 is a small minority. The majority of Kimberley Aboriginal families and young people are doing the right thing."

He said the meetings looked at where funding was being invested for youth engagement, and where it was needed most, for "initiatives to address that escalation in juvenile crime."

"We are also looking at how we can collaborate across the Kimberley, in the various towns.

"We had Kimberley police, we had state government agencies as well as the education department present. We had Indigenous leaders and the CEOs of the youth organisations."

Mr Sibisado said it was important to establish mechanisms for collaboration to engage with Indigenous youth.

"What came out of it is we identified a level of dysfunction at the delivery end of services.

"We are trying to focus on state and Commonwealth collaboration on youth affairs, trying to get an understanding of how those services engage with youth."

Neil Thomson, Opposition MLC for the Mining and Pastoral Region in WA Parliament, told the National Indigenous Times that it was crucial for decision makers to listen to the communities.

"The idea of holding a crime and community forum has arisen because of concerns about the escalating situation in the Kimberley.

"The latest data is showing crime in almost every category has reached record levels, particularly family violence. Increasing burglaries, a range of classifications of crime.

"My concern has been the recent rise in juvenile crime, which has obviously led to anxiety in the community but also places these children at risk of future interaction with the justice system, which really limits the future of young people," he said.

Mr Thomson said he would be travelling throughout the Kimberley with some of his colleagues to "listen to constructive views about what could be done."

"As an Opposition we have a role in putting some pressure on the government to act. I want to contribute to the solution.

"Hopefully by listening to what people have to say we can contribute to building a better future for these kids.

"I commend the people of Fitzroy Crossing for having initiative and beginning a conversation to support that process."

Mr Thomson said public meetings were an important part of empowering local people to be part of the solution.

A spokesperson for the State Government told the National Indigenous Times that the McGowan Government "is aware of ongoing concerns around juvenile justice issues in the Kimberley and other northern regions."

"The State Government is undertaking an audit of the vast array of services and programs already in place â€" led by local, State and Federal Government, and NGOs â€" to get a better understanding of what is working, and where resources could be better directed.

"The State Government recently announced the deployment of an additional 12 police officers to support current police efforts in the Kimberley.

"There is no overnight fix for this problem. But the McGowan Government is committed to exploring short, medium and long term options to reduce these longstanding and systemic juvenile offending issues," they said.

By Giovanni Torre

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