The Dharriwaa Elders Group has made a submission to the NSW Legislative Assembly on Law and Safety's inquiry into community safety in regional and rural communities.

While the framing of the inquiry was around crimes such as motor vehicle and break and enter offences, DEG's submission focused on the negative impact to community safety of traditional criminal justice responses in Walgett, especially to Aboriginal community members. 

Read the submission here

DEG members have lived experience of institutional harms which have left them feeling unsafe, e.g.:

  • The continuing and intergenerational impacts of the Stolen Generations policies
  • Deaths in Custody
  • High levels of incarceration of family members and children and young people
  • Loss of access to waters and Country
  • Degradation of Country and waterways
  • Unsafe drinking water
  • Heightened food insecurity
  • A long-term housing crisis, chronic financial hardship and poverty.

Also included in the submission are recommendations to increase community safety in Walgett, such as:

  • That issues of safety in regional and rural areas, including Walgett, are responded to not just by NSW Police and the Department of Communities and Justice, but primarily by NSW Health and the Department of Education alongside Aboriginal community controlled organisations (ACCOs), with ACCOs being given decision making power within their own communities.
  • Our peak bodies need the resourcing to be run effectively and efficiently and to regularly represent our policy solutions. We need to be given transparent opportunities to review and ground-truth information being discussed by Secretary groupings for decisions and policies affecting Walgett.
  • We request that unused houses managed by the government are leased to Walgett ACCOs. We also request a shared equity scheme like that offered to individuals by the NSW Government, for ACCOs, for direct investment in ACCO staff housing and for Council to set aside land for the purposes of staff housing.
  • Politicians using scare and fear narratives about Walgett to attract votes must be countered.
  • Local employment and community development initiatives need support.
  • Walgett ACCOs require flexible funds to engage and support its workforce and grow local skills, as well as recognition of the extra supports required when growing a local Aboriginal workforce.