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Warlpiri Elders from Yuendumu slam NT govt's police funding windfall

Giovanni Torre -

Warlpiri Elders from Yuendumu community have slammed the Northern Territory government's budget announcement boasting ''the biggest ever spend on police in the Territory's history".

The $10.1 million package to deploy more police in Territory communities and schools comes after the acquittal of officer Zachary Rolfe, who was charged with murder after fatally shooting 19-year-old Walpiri teenager Kumanjayi Walker in Yuendumu three years ago.

On Thursday, Warlpiri Elders launched a Karrinjarla Muwajarri/ceasefire campaign calling for NT police to be disarmed and for funding to be directed to self-determined Aboriginal governance instead of more police.

The Elders issued a statement of demands and a call for a National Day of Action on June 18.

Senior Warlpiri Elder Ned Jampijinpa Hargraves said the Territory government had "no shame".

"This funding increase is a direct threat to our lives in our community," he said.

"More funding for police means more police violence against our people.

"Karrinjarla muwajarri, this must stop.

"The only safe way forward for our people is for our local First Nations authority to be empowered and for funding to go to our community controlled services."

The Elders cited a 2021 report by the Australian Institute of Criminology, showing there had been a 78 per cent increase in fatal police shootings Australia-wide between 2018-2019 and 2019-2020.

Ms Manison said the Territory's police deserved the best resources and infrastructure.

"That's why we have backed them with the biggest police budget in Territory history," she said.

"We know that maintaining local relationships and engagements is vital for our Police and this investment is an important step in increasing safety out on our communities.

"We will always back our Police and the complex work that they do right across the Territory, in some of the most remote regions in the country."

Human Rights Law Centre legal director Nick Espie backed Yuendumu community's call for action.

"The voices of Elders, families and community at Yuendumu must be central to the next steps taken by government in the journey towards healing and restoring the trust of Aboriginal people, and repairing the damage to our justice system," he said.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Police Minister Nicole Manison said the $10.1 million fund would supply more regional and remote police officers.

Some 21 police officers and 30 Aboriginal liaison officers will be employed as part of the Community Resilience and Engagement Command.

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