A tragic loss for the Warlpiri in Yuendumu

13 November 2019

I just bring to the attention of the Senate and to the Australian parliament that we are obviously looking at serious concerns in terms of the bushfire threats in New South Wales, Queensland and southern Australia. We've certainly had ourfair share of concerns with the drought in the Northern Territory. But what I want to bring to the attention of the Senate tonight is something that is personally very difficult for the families of Central Australia.

On the weekend, a 19-year-old man was killed at Yuendumu, nearly 300 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs. Unfortunately, this was a case involving police, so it's considered a death in custody. I bring this to the attention of the Australian parliament because relationships more broadly in this country between police and First Nations people have always been tenuous. I am here with Senator Pat Dodson, whom we all know was involved with the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in this country. First Nations people had concerns in the 1980s and 1990s about their relationship with police in Australia.

I think it's important to put on the record here in the Senate, in the midst of all the pieces of legislation and all the other things that are occurring in our country, that I ask senators to take a moment to consider and to pay their respects to the family who lost someone quite dear. The Warlpiri people of Yuendumu are in sorry business. They're trying to deal with this tragic loss. The people of Alice Springs are trying to deal with this tragic loss. The police force and the families of the police force of the Northern Territory are trying to deal with this tragic loss. I just ask the Australian Senate to be respectful of the fact that there is an incredibly tense situation in the Northern Territory. I certainly pay my personal respects to the families: the Walker family, the Warlpiri families and all those who are related to the young man and are out at Sorry Camp. I call on the strength of country in the Warlpiri region and the Yuendumu region to give strength and peace in the hearts of those who are grieving, in the hearts of those who are trying to find a way forward and in the hearts of those who call Yuendumu homepeople all around Australia, including non-Indigenous people and other First Nations people, who call Yuendumu home. I ask this Senate to think about them, to reflect on the fact that peace needs to be felt in all hearts, not just with our families across eastern Australia with the bushfires. I'm just asking the Senate to recognise that there is a serious concern here in Central Australia and that peace and respect should be provided to those families who are trying to find a way forward through this most extraordinarilyunfortunatelydifficult and tragic time.