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Aboriginal Police Aides – a manuscript extract

The following material is from the draft manuscript written and supplied by NT Police Superintendent Tony Fuller


A Narrative of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders Service in the Northern Territory Police Force 1870-2009


The first Aboriginal members were appointed in 1979 during the era of Commissioner McAuley who under section 19 of the Police Administration Act at the time had the power to appoint “Aides”. The Police Aide Scheme was proposed primarily with the initial roles being coastal surveillance for illegal fishing and landings and liaison with police patrols due to Australian security concerns particularly in relation to refugee boats. In February 1979 Inspector John Maley started a working group including Sergeant Higgins and Preston to establish the scheme.[1] In April ten positions were approved by Cabinet and Commissioner McAuley also discussed using the scheme at Warrabri where Police Tracker George Brown was considered. Sergeant 1/c Higgins conducted testing and interviews in April 1979 on 21 applicants and recommended eight applicants.[2] The first course of “Coast Watch” Aides commenced on the 28th May 1979 and graduated on the 13th July 1979. Eight commenced however one was dismissed in June after he continually failed to report for duty apparently the result of alcohol sessions and family pressure. The graduates of Police Aide Squad 1/79 were; COOPER, Sammy - Minjilang DJUPANDUWUY, Alfred - Galiwinku DUMOO, Timothy - Wadeye (Port Keats) GABALGA, Toby - Maningrida MANGURRA, Noel - Numbulwar RABARUBA, Jacob - Goulburn Island TIPUNGWUTI, Charles - Nguiu Sergeant 1/C Jonathan Higgins in a report to the Officer in charge of the Training Directorate dated 19 July 1979 listed the following equipment as being issued to each Police Aides. 1 x 175 cc Yamaha Ag Motor Cycle 1 x 13 ft dinghy (except Port Keats and Maningrida) 1 x 15 hp outboard 1 x pair binoculars 1 x steel trunk (for official forms etc.) Normal annual issue of uniform with distinctive shoulder patches. A part from this they were issued with an assortment of forms and manuals primarily to identify ships and planes. Their duties were identified as;

  • Coastal surveillance – illegal or unauthorised entry or use of the waters or land by vessels, persons, flora, fauna – patrol of coastal areas / outstations to gather information and observe any intrusions.

  • Liaison duties between Police and Community

  • Advising Police Officers of any tribal connotations or conflicts that may affect an investigation.

  • Liaising between Community Council and Police – interpreting if required

  • Communicating local knowledge to investigating Police.

  • Assisting Police in execution of duty if the need arises.

  • Reporting of any information that may be of interest to Police or user departments.[3]

In October 1979 the Aide scheme evolved with the appointment of three Aboriginal Community Police members who had powers of arrest within their Aboriginal Lands. These members were Police Trackers Henry O’Keefe and George Brown at Warrabri and the Chairman of Hooker Creek Council, Lionel James. These men undertook training by Sergeants Barrie J Smith and R. Bradford at Warrabri in October before graduating in November as part of Police Aide Squad 2/79 [4]. As a result the original “Coast Watch” aides were brought back into Darwin and trained in Police Aide Squad 3/79 to also have similar powers and re-enforce their initial study. [5] Another recruit was added to this list in Police Aide Danny Sandy of Katherine. [6] Even at this time the question of housing standards was being raised by Sergeant Higgins who reported “I am dismayed to hear that several Aides have sub-standard or no accommodation and it would appear that no pressure has been brought to bear on local councils to provide suitable accommodation for them.”[7] The selection process for Police Aides was described in Bathgate and O’Neill One of the fundamental operating principles of the Aboriginal Police Aide Scheme is that suitable candidates are nominated from within the community. Police, however, can play a significant role in this process. For instance, Police reserve the right to select their preferred candidate from a possible range of candidates nominated by the community or inform the community that no suitable candidates exist on the basis of the selection criteria. The benefit of this system is that the community then has confidence in the community officer and will be more likely to support the officer in the work they carry out. In May 1980 two Police Aides from Bathurst Island, Stanley Tipiloura and Leonard Tungatalum were put through a basic training course as the result of requests from the Tiwi Islands. Both graduated on the 30th May as part of Police Aide Squad 4/80 [8]and went to work on the Tiwi’s. These two were part of a six member squad being. Squad 4/80 Police Aide participants. Stanley Gabriel Tipiloura Leonard Tungatalum John Singh Toby Ginger Andrew Jabiljari Spencer Tom Wombirri Friday. Sergeant Eddie Josephs who partook in the course as an instructor and observer commented in a report, “To me the most remarkable aspect of the course was that three of them were illiterate.” [9] The first Police Aide Course known as Squad 1/81 but also referred to as Police Aide Refresher / Induction Course 5/81 commenced on the 29th June 1981 with 17 members, 8 existing and 9 new. Squad 5/81 Police Aide participants. COOPER, Sammy - Minjilang DJUPANDUWUY, Alfred - Galiwinku GABALGA, Toby - Maningrida KERINIAUA, Jules - Milikapiti MANGURRA, Timothy - Alyangula MANGURRA, Noel - Numbulwar MILLER, Billy - Borroloola MOREEN, Rusty Benedict - Belyuen NAWUNDUPUPI, Gordon - Ngukurr RABARUBA, Jacob - Goulburn Island RYAN, Fred - Bamyili SANDY, Danny John - Katherine TIPILOURA, Stanley - Nguiu TIPUNGWUTI, Pious - Milikapiti TIPUNGWUTI, Charles - Nguiu WARRURR, Johnny - Millingimbi WORUMBU, Colin - Wadeye (Port Keats) In 1982 four more Aides were trained at Jabiru in Police Aide Induction Course 6/82. The course ran between the 29th November and 10th December 1982 in Jabiru with the members coming from Gunbalunya, Beswick and Daly River. They were George Djandjomeer, James Marrawal, David Groves and Victor Parry. Senior Constable Peter Hamon was appointed as the Police Aide Liaison Officer in 1981 taking over from Sergeant Josephs. He was originally attached to Management Planning Area and then transferred in 1984 to the Police Training Centre and his role was as per the following job description.


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