Barkly Regional mayor Steven Edgington warned the Northern Territory government in August that violence and crime had been escalating at Ali Curung — the scene of Monday’s riot — for several years.
Mayor Edgington asked for additional services to help the community overcome the issues it faced.
“Given the level and continuity of violence I am of the view that the NT government needs to urgently intervene and commence a strategic whole of government approach to support the coordination of services at Ali Curung to build community capacity to overcome these issues,” he wrote to NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner.
Mr Gunner responded that his Tennant Creek office had discussed law and order at Ali Curung and other matters with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
“I have been briefed that all levels of government are now working together in the provision of additional support and coordination, including my Department assisting Prime Minister and Cabinet to implement funding for mediation training at Ali Curung,” Mr Gunner wrote.
Mr Edgington told NIT that a slow approach was needed with the community where underlying issues included overcrowded housing, unemployment and alcohol.
He said violence had been gradually escalating and boiled over on Monday.
“The violence has been slowly but surely escalating,” he said. “As mayor I visit the community and we’ve got councillors who live in that community.”
“The fighting is getting more regular and more violent … There have been some attempts at mediation in the community but the challenge with mediation is there needs to be the will for people to come to the table.”
“There have been some challenges around mediation, particularly when that fighting is still going on. Some of the people aren’t ready to participate.”
“It has to be a slowly slowly approach. What I’d like to see are resources on the ground, where skilled people are on the ground, having some conversations and starting to build a rapport and trust with people to slowly bring them together to the table for mediation and conciliation, and then hopefully move forward with a strategy to commence working together on a law and justice strategy,” Mr Edgington said.
By Wendy Caccetta