A remote Western Australian town is asking for a return in support after community organisations have supported State measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Leedal Proprietary Limited, owners of Fitzroy River Lodge in Fitzroy Crossing, brokered a deal with WA’s Department of Communities where the Lodge supplies isolation accommodation for people awaiting COVID-19 testing results.

NIT understands since Fitzroy River Lodge became an isolation accommodation option, there has been a lack of policing around keeping people in isolation.

In one instance, a young person allegedly left their room and stole a car, going for a joyride around town.

A spokesperson from the Department of Communities said the Department is unable to comment on individual matters involving children and young people.

“The Department of Communities is aware of this particular incident and will continue to working closely with Youth Justice where appropriate to ensure children are safe and protected,” the spokesperson said.

The Department has since provided funding for one security guard at the Lodge after Leedal reached out regarding security.

The spokesperson said they understood there is “public concern” around this lack of security and that the Department is “taking the situation very seriously”.

“Measures to protect the community and minimise potential impacts of COVID-19 are currently being implemented,” the spokesperson said.

“Once a direction to isolate has been made it is enforceable by WA Police.”

Although the matter has since been resolved, Leedal Chair Patrick Green said providers and organisations such as Leedal are not being included in the conversation about protecting Aboriginal people in the Kimberley.

“They’re talking about us but are they listening to what we have to say?”

Green is concerned the relevant and appropriate services are not being included in the planning to protect Aboriginal residents and that residents are receiving “second rate” services.

The Chair also said messaging around COVID-19 has been poor in Fitzroy Crossing, with residents still congregating in large numbers around the Tarunda IGA and the post office, businesses both overseen by Leedal.

“Occasionally we get into conflict with [people] coming onto the premises,” Green said.

“[We’re] trying to adhere to regulations. We’re having to do all of that on our own. It would be good to see other services around us occasionally.”

Green is calling on the local hospital and health services to increase their messaging around regulations in Fitzroy Crossing.

According to WA Country Health Service as of Tuesday April 28, the number of active COVID-19 cases in the Kimberley remains at zero. There are 17 recovered cases and 964 people who have tested negative to the virus.

By Hannah Cross