End 'us, them situation': Gulaptis
EIGHT to 10 juvenile offenders, mostly residing in Ngaru Village, are holding the town of Yamba to ransom on the issue of crime, Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said yesterday.
Mr Gulaptis said police had informed him that the removal of these career criminals from the system would not only scuttle the need for a 24-hour police station in Yamba, but would help stop younger residents being led astray.
But Mr Gulaptis said he was well aware that the justice system alone could not fix the much larger social problems at the village including substance abuse, truancy, unemployment and poverty.
He said he had met with State Attorney-General Greg Smith and had arranged meetings with Aboriginal Affairs Minister Victor Dominello to discuss program options for Ngaru Village and there had been some exciting suggestions and the prospect of funding.
Plans to demolish up to three "uninhabitable" homes needed to be coupled with a better management system, Mr Gulaptis said, because clearly the current system was not working.
He called for a system which was more interactive with the broader community to overcome the "us and them situation".
Education, mentorship and employment would need to be three pillars of change if any so-called "intervention" was to be effective, he said.
He said he was reluctant to use the term intervention because it was a loaded word.
Asked why previous programs had failed the village, Mr Gulaptis said such programs had "missed their target audience" of children before they were led astray by their older peers.
Birrigan Gargle Land Council chief executive Norma Collins refused to comment when contacted by The Examiner but said she would be attending Monday's crisis meeting convened by Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson.
Angel dust not known to command
Reports in yesterday's Daily Examiner that angel dust or PCP (phencyclidine) was being used in Yamba were the first police had heard of the drug in the Coffs Clarence command.
Information about petrol-sniffing and angel dust use formed part of a judgment by Magistrate David Heilpern in the case of a 15-year-old Yamba girl on multiple assault charges in Maclean Children's Court his week.
Coffs Clarence crime manager Cameron Lindsay said the angel dust reference came from a Juvenile Justice report on the girl and may have been provided to a Juvenile Justice officer by girls involved in some offences.
"There's been no detection of PCP use anywhere in the command," he said. "It's not a drug we think is in use and we would have expect it to come up in other investigations."
Describing the report as "very worrying", Insp Lindsay said police would take the information and make further inquiries.
"PCP hasn't been a drug on the radar for quite a long time," he said.
Insp Lindsay said parents of young criminals should be the first port of call for a solution to the ongoing problems and parents needed to take responsibility for how children behave and what they are exposed to.
"Extended family and the wider community have an obligation to those children," he said.
Police were looking at trying to engage with other agencies and the management of Ngaru Village to help find solutions to the crime issues.
Insp Lindsay said statistics, including an average of two non- domestic violence related assaults per month and only two for January, proved Yamba had a relatively low crime rate. He said there was a zero average for sexual assaults and robberies (in which violence was used).