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Going Beyond the Call of Duty to help their community


Five Aboriginal people and one non-Aboriginal person are standing in front of a remote airfield. In the background is a small airplane.
Galiwin’ku Night Patrol members (left to right) Don Wininba, Julieanne Gondarra, Daphne Gondarra, Lisa Yawungmarra, Asher Bradbury and Ross Wunungmurra are proud to have played their part containing a recent rise in volatile substance abuse.
31 Mar 2017

When Galiwin’ku faced a concerning rise in volatile substance abuse in their community, the local Night Patrol team went way beyond the call of duty to contain the danger.

Based on Elcho Island off the north coast of Arnhem Land, the team of five worked with police to identify areas within the community where some locals had sourced sniffing substances.

Night patrols play an important role in Aboriginal communities, ensuring that locals are safe and children are at home at night so they can get enough sleep and get up in time for school the next day.

The five-member Night Patrol team and their coordinator understood the danger to the individuals and to the community of an increase in fuel sniffing and decided to help, spending a month working dusk to dawn every night of the week patrolling the problem areas in the communities. At the end of the month the team were exhausted but proud of the fact that there was a significant decrease in reported break ins where the substances had been stored.

The team earned praise from police, local Aboriginal corporation Marthakal and from the East Arnhem Regional Council, which delivers the night patrol service across nine sites in Arnhem Land and Groote Eylandt.

“The hours worked by the Night Patrol members were above and beyond the call of duty and Galiwin’ku community owes them much respect for their efforts,” Sergeant Ian Hamblyn of the Northern Territory Police said.

Australian Government officials were also very impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication of the Night Patrol members and are working with local stakeholders to further support the Galiwin’ku Night Patrol and give the Night Patrol team a well-earned break.

While fuel sniffing is still a concern in Galiwin’ku, local youth have less access to dangerous substances thanks to the commitment and work of the local Night Patrol team.

Find out more

Having a safe community to live in is critical to closing the gap in Indigenous disadvantage. It makes other important things possible, like getting kids to school, helping them achieve good results, and getting adults into jobs.

Fuel sniffing is a form of substance misuse and can cause a number of serious health impacts, including brain damage or death. The Australian Government funds the extra costs of producing low aromatic unleaded fuel which is available at over 170 retail sites in Australia.

The Australian Government supports the important work of Night Patrols through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy’s Safety and Wellbeing Programme.

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