The Centralian advocate Fri 20 Jun 2014
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FRIDAY JUNE 20 2014 NEWS 05 V1 - CAVE01Z01MA Policing never has been, and never will be, an exact science C O M M I S S I O N E R J O H N M C R O B E R T S Police cautioned to make the right calls THE Childrens Commissioner of the Northern Territory has called on NT Police to try to make the right decisions when dealing with cases involving young children. NT Childrens Commissioner Howard Bath said, we hope that any decision NT Police officers have made or make is in the best interests of the children involved given the circumstances. These comments come during a week of debate over the case of a 15-month-old boy being locked in a police paddy wagon in Alice Springs last week, and whether or not police took the appropriate course of action in putting him there. The boy was placed into the vehicle alongside his 15-yearold mother, who had allegedly hit him across the face earlier that day. She has since been charged with aggravated assault, and will appear in court in Alice Springs on June 30. It has been alleged that the mother was also assaulted by family members following the alleged strike to the child. Mr Bath said the infor mation he had received about the case had been limited. Regarding the recent matter involving the young mother and child being placed in the police paddy wagon, we are only aware of information available in the public domain. It is our understanding that the placement of young children into police paddy wagons is a rare occurrence in the NT. The commissioner also voiced his concern about the alleged physical assaults on the young boy and his mother. Given the high levels of community violence in Central Australia, we are very concerned about the reports of the young mother and child being subject to acts of violence. A local mental health worker, who could not be named due to company policy, warned of the lifelong damages a childhood trauma such as this could cause. A large number of clients have experienced some trauma relating to incidents that occurred during childhood. Its fairly accurate to say that a lot of mental illness and suicide risk can stem from things that have happened in the past. The worker talked of the importance in properly funding local parenting programs. Parenting is hard work and people need support for how to do it well, and thats what a number of programs in Central Australia are trying to do. In regards to the specific case, the worker talked of the importance of looking at the full picture. Rather than blaming the mother, its important to remember that they may have been victims of some family problems too its a cycle. We have to stop the cycle of abuse. A police officer watches over the cage car in which a 15-year-old mother and 15-month-old baby were held last Thursday Picture: JUSTIN BRIERTY Matt Garrick Photo stirs controversy Mamamia! posted an opinion piece which described the image as making waves around Australia. The author said the photo sparked national discussion over whether the child should have been behind bars in a paddy wagon in the first place and a secondary debate over whether the photographer should have taken the image. In the week gone by, some of the countrys top indigenous policy makers, including Warren Mundine and Mick Gooda, have also entered the debate. The image even made news in India, posted on YouTube by tabloid newspaper the Kodambakkam Times. photos online, prompting hundreds of comments and debate. Many of the comments commended the NT Police decision to place the child in the wagon while about as many lambasted them for doing so. One commentator, out of 126 on the Daily Telegraph website, said: as awful as this appears to be on a shallow level, it would seem the police did the best they could to manage a difficult situation. Nothing is ever black and white in situations like this. An editorial in the National Indigenous Times was posted entitled This is not the way of a civil society. Leading womens website THE image of an Aboriginal toddler in the back of an Alice Springs police wagon has been viewed thousands of times online worldwide. Taken by Centralian Advocate photographer Justin Brierty, the confronting picture of a 15-month-old infant behind the wire cage of a police van was circulated around Australia, after it appeared on the front page of the Sunday Territorian last weekend. Many of the nations largest media outlets, including the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun and networks ABC and Channel Nine, published the Matt Garrick Police obviously have to do all they can to calm a volatile situation C H I E F M I N I S T E R A D A M G I L E S I heard the childs voice coming from the back of the paddy wagon, and thought, This is not right P H O T O G R A P H E R J U S T I N B R I E R T Y Things must be put in place to make sure this never happens again S H A D O W P O L I C E M I N I S T E R M I C H A E L G U N N E R for International Development VOLUNTEER OVERSEAS > Live, work and learn in a developing community overseas > Airfares, accommodation and a modest allowance included > Expertise sought from a range of disciplines > Jobs in Asia, the Pacifc or Africa. MEET US IN ALICE SPRINGS > Alice Springs Town Council, Andy McNeill Room, 93 Todd Street Australian Volunteers for International Development is an Australian Government initiative. RSVP or SIGN UP to hear more at www.australianvolunteers.com or phone tollfree 1800 331 292. Tuesday 24 June, 6.30pm 7.30pm, www.australianaidvolunteers.gov.au