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Aurukun elder calls on police to end street fights between locals

ABC News logo ABC News 16/05/2016

Other Aurukun women had alleged police were seen inducing fighting and providing lollies to onlookers. © YouTube Other Aurukun women had alleged police were seen inducing fighting and providing lollies to onlookers. Community elders in far north Queensland say they are appalled police do not stop regular street fights as footage of the violence emerges online.

Recent video from the community of Aurukun shows police watching on as youths attack each other in broad daylight.

It comes after recent unrest in the Indigenous community left a school principal injured in an attack.

Aurukun elder Phyllis Yunkaporta said officers should not stand around while fights take place on the streets.

"We want police to take action right there and then," she said. "Put these street fighting events as public nuisances now. It impacts on the very lives of our youngsters because they stand there and see the fighting happening. "It's cemented into their young brains that this is the way to go."

'We want police to start doing things properly'

Ms Yunkaporta is among several leaders, including Noel Pearson, who wrote to the Queensland Government months ago about the simmering violence in the community.

"We don't want encouragement from the police because they are here to enforce law and we want the police to start doing things properly for us," she said.

Assistant Police Commissioner Paul Taylor said the fights were not sanctioned but officers could not just break them up.

"Because of the numbers of people there and because of the delicacy around making sure that they don't have the crowd turn on them," he said.

"There's occasions when they do try and negotiate a peaceful settlement between parties.

"The last thing we want is police acting in a way that sees large numbers of people involved in offences.

"It's a very complex situation I don't think it's fair to say that police are just condoning it.

There's no way that the police condone fair fights, I can't get that point over strong enough."

Elders say that is not good enough and it is time for the Government to do more to ensure the violence is stopped.

Government being 'a bit slack'

Keri Tamwoy, from the Aurukun Mediation Project, said she and other Aurukun women wrote to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in January requesting a meeting, but so far they had heard nothing back.

"To be honest, I think they're a bit slack," she said.

She said the young men and women "probably think of it [fighting] as some kind of initiation and that they have to prove themselves to their family members and to others".

Other Aurukun women had alleged police were seen inducing fighting and providing lollies to onlookers.

Both Ms Palazczuk and Police Minister Bill Byrne were unavailable for an interview.

Mr Byrne released a statement saying he was advised that police did not condone or encourage fighting. Meanwhile, inter-clan mediations have continued under Ms Tamwoy.

"Getting people to stop fighting and rather talk and solve their issues and problems through talking and coming to an agreement," she said.

Ms Tamwoy said since the month of January until now, they had a 70 per cent success rate. The women of Aurukun said they wanted Government assistance to make their inter-clan mediations proactive, not reactive.

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