Kimberley Leaders Head South for Action on Youth Crime Wave

Published on Thursday, 10 February 2022 at 3:57:44 PM

Fed-up Kimberley Shire Presidents are banding together to lobby state ministers – in person – for action on escalating juvenile crime in their region. 


The Kimberley Regional Group usually meet regularly in Kimberley towns but next week the four Shire Presidents and their CEOs will make the 2500-kilometre journey south to “speak face-to-face with as many ministers as we possibly can”.  


“There’s power in a group,” said Derby/West Kimberley Shire President Geoff Haerewa. 


“Ultimately, we want to sit down with as many ministers as we possibly can. We want to look them in the eye and tell them how bad the situation has gotten, and that we need help from the state to bring peace and safety back to the Kimberley.” 


This week opposition politicians Mining and Pastoral MLC Neil Thomson, opposition leader Mia Davies and North West Central MLA Vince Catania held community meetings across the Kimberley to gauge the depth of the crisis. State Government Ministers did not attend.


In Derby nearly 200 locals vented their anger and frustration at what they described as years of inaction at state level.


“We’ve all got exactly the same issues [across the Kimberley] and we’ve all got the same solutions,” said Haerewa.


“But we are being told what to do from down south, rather than being consulted with and listened too as experts who are on the ground and living with this mayhem day in and day out.” 


There was widespread agreement on the short and medium term action plan to curb the growing crime rate at community meetings across the Kimberley, much of it in line with ideas already put forward by the Kimberley Regional Group. 


In the short term Haerewa said police vacancies needed to filled – and boosted – across the Kimberley. Subsidies could be considered to help people purchase security cameras for their homes, and private security firms employed to patrol the streets at night, both on foot, in vehicles, and by monitoring the town’s CCTV feeds, freeing up local police for call-outs. A temporary curfew could also be considered. 


In the medium a term a safe house to take youth at night if their homes aren't safe is “crucial”, said Haerewa, as well as more after-school programmes, a focus on increasing local school attendance rates, and recruiting more locals to volunteer for youth engagement programmes and monitoring CCTV feeds at the police station [with appropriate training].  


“These crime sprees have been happening before but not for such a prolonged period of time,” said Haerewa, who has lived and worked in Derby for more than 20 years. 


“This anti-social behaviour has been escalating since early 2018 when rocks began being thrown at cars. Since then, it has just got worse.” 


“In the past we have asked to be at the table when these state ministers discuss the Kimberley but we’ve mostly been ignored. So now we’re taking the fight to their doorstep. The current state of affairs cannot go on – and we will do everything we can to bring peace back to our homes and towns.”


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