'Bring back school based constables'

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2524 Tabby Fudge 1 OKSir – In the early 1980s the NT introduced a school based constable program which was so highly regarded within Australia and overseas, it was replicated throughout Australia and adopted overseas, notably in New Zealand.
 
The entire concept revolved around proactive policing, rather than the financially and socially expensive traditional model of punitive policing.
 
A school based drug use prevention program was taught by police officers, along with other programs such as Stranger Danger, Safety House, Neighbourhood Watch and School Watch which remain very relevant to our children today.
 
Sadly, successive NT governments have allowed this school based constable program to diminish to the point where we see a reversal in the fantastic outcomes it was achieving. We are experiencing escalating bad behaviour in our schools and in our communities.
 
I am pleased that Minister for Education Eva Lawler, as well as CEO Department of Education, Vicki Baylis, both support our request for the program to be fully reinstated.
 
Police resourcing sits with Chief Minister and Minister for Police Michael Gunner. We requested a meeting in September 2017. This has now been confirmed for April 12.
 
The Royal Commission in to the Detention of Youth specifically notes that a “specialist highly trained youth division similar to New Zealand Police Youth Aid be established ” and that the “position of Aboriginal Community Police Officers be expanded and include the position of Youth Diversion Officers”.
 
An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.
 
We represent 19,000 NT families, their 34,000 children and our 154 government schools which support them.
 
Tabby Fudge (pictured)
President, of the NT Council of Government School Organisations (NT COGSO)
 
 
 

10 COMMENTS

  1. Great promotion, Tabby.
    When I first came to the NT in 1993, I was surprised to learn that while Alice Springs’s schools had campus cops, they didn’t have school counsellors. They, too, would be another excellent resource addition for all of our schools, even if on a shared care basis.
    The outcomes I saw achieved through the campus cop program were great. They were a terrific asset with regard to restorative justice programs and worked very well in preventative practices areas.
    You’re right, Tabby. Prevention strategies are always preferable with regard to both social and economic dimensions. I hope your deputations are successful.

  2. @ Phil Walcott (Posted March 17, 2018 at 2:55 pm): Interesting comment, Phil, because when I was a student at the Alice Springs High School in the late 1970s there was a school counsellor employed there. Her name was Glynnis McMahon, if my memory serves me right, a highly regarded person who worked at the high school for many years.
    She passed away in 1989 as I recall, and maybe wasn’t replaced at a time of increasing budgetary constraint. That’s speculative on my part but given you arrived here in 1993 not long after massive cutbacks to public expenditure including significant attrition of staff positions, that’s probably the reason there were apparently no school counsellors employed here by that time.

  3. Thanks for your feedback, Alex. Interesting to know that. I’m sure Glynnis had her work cut out!
    When I was a District School Counsellor in Sydney, we were generally based in a high school and also delivered services to a few nearby feeder primary schools.
    It was a fantastic role that enabled not only cognitive and adaptive assessments to be conducted but also a great deal of 1:1 counselling to students, staff or families who either requested it or were referred.
    If the NT Education Department are in a position to re-implement those services, they could go a long way to helping schools to develop and deliver their respective social health and well-being programs.

  4. The meeting of 12 April may involve a consideration of financial constraints. Understandable!
    But it must also be understood that the concerns expressed by the President of NTCOGSO call for something beyond just a nod and mere consideration. These concerns call for effective action.

  5. Glynnis was doing a excellent job, with the support of the staff and the respect of the students.
    Discipline was strict but fair but also parents were not interfering, whinging to the principal as they do now.
    Alex can probably back be up on that (he’d better as I was part of the staff when he was a student, ha ha).

  6. Oh, I don’t know about that, Evelynne – I recall there were a lot of ratbags during my time at school, and quite a number of them were the students 😉

  7. I remember joining the staff at Alice Springs Highschool in ’86 and being surprised to find there was a school cop.
    We had a couple of good ones, including Kym Davies, did a lot for the kids, including a boating expedition on the Roper. And kept the staff in line too.

  8. @ Phil Walcott: What a joke restorative justice programs have been in the Territory. They actually undid the good work of school cops.
    At Alice Springs Highschool there was a spate of racist behaviour allegedly perpetrated by white kids on Aboriginal students.
    Oddly the Aboriginal students were often a lot bigger, tougher and ganged up.
    At the restorative meetings the white kids would readily confess their offence and apologise profusely.
    They would accept any consequence for their poor behaviour without any complaint.
    In reality, the racist accusation was a weapon expertly used against targeted white students who often attended the school in fear of assault.
    In any restorative situation where the participants rather than the school decide who is in the wrong the power relationship will prevail.
    That relationship invariable favoured the Aboriginal students.
    One outcome was Aboriginal youth who thought they could always manipulate the system.
    Many ended up in jail.
    The other outcome was successive generations of racist white adults, they never forgot.

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