By KIERAN FINNANE
A delighted Phillip Alice has announced on his Facebook page that the Traditional Owner foot patrol, which he calls the “Arrente patrol” will start this Monday – “history in the making”.
The patrol, backed by the Town Council with 10 jobs and funding of $230,000, comes more than three and half years after Mr Alice and other senior Arrernte men (pictured above, Mr Alice in the checked shirt) expressed their desire to to step up “to do something about all these young people who are causing problem in Arrernte ground”.
From there, after meetings over months with Councillors Eli Melky and Catherine Satour, Mr Alice, a former community police officer, made a presentation at a November 2017 council meeting, offering to “become part of the solution”.
At the time the offer seemed to fall on deaf ears. Cr Satour’s motion to accept it and “build a formal and strong relationship” with them, was whittled down to inviting them for discussion.
She commented on what happened next – not pretty – during the community safety debate at this week’s meeting.
Now, however, it seems it is an idea whose time has come, with a soft launch this coming Monday.
“All Arrente people happy,” says Mr Alice’s post.
Cr Satour said recruitment to the patrol team has been a council operational matter – she has not been involved – but she expressed her pleasure that after three years of hard work, “at times at great personal expense and overcoming obstacles and objections”, that council is working alongside Traditional Owners towards “solutions of community safety”.
“This is only the beginning,” she says.
Council’s media officer confirmed the beginning of the pilot patrol with Mr Alice as its leader. It will be a “process of walking the streets of the CBD and engaging with community members”.
Initially, it will involve day shifts “to aid patrollers in information gathering”. Presumably the plan is to move to including night shifts, which will be critical in the eyes of the community.
The patrol will be formally launched at a later date – the News understands end of April.
Photo at top, from our archives, July 2017: from left, Matthew Palmer, Phillip Alice, Jonathan Conway, Shane Lindner.