A TENNANT CREEK volunteer group helping police prevent crime and anti-social behaviour is saving the town’s BP servo and IGA “thousands of dollars every night”, according to Julalikari Council Aboriginal Corporation chairwoman Linda Turner.
Ms Turner said the idea to arrange the volunteer group came after Julalikari’s Night Patrol manager went down to the BP complex a couple of weeks ago and saw “the kids were just everywhere”.
“It was like a playground,” Ms Turner said.
“Dozens and dozens of kids kicking the football and running around and we thought ‘this has to stop’.”
Ms Turner said youth anti-social behaviour and crime in the area had got out of hand and there was a sense in Tennant Creek that “the kids were holding the town to ransom”.
“They just run in and out of places like the BP and grab things off the shelf,” Ms Turner said. “They come with a bottle and try to steal some residual fuel from the bowsers. They’d throw stones and smash the fridges inside the BP.”
Ms Turner said kids would steal bags off the buses travelling to Darwin and Alice Springs, which would stop at the BP complex.
“So we thought ‘we can’t let it go on, we have to do something’.”
The volunteer group has met every night at the BP complex, which is half-owned by Julalikari, since February 5.
On weekends, the group attracts anywhere from 20 to 25 volunteers. During the week there’s an average of six volunteers. Ms Turner said the volunteers engaged constructively with the kids who were out late at night.
She said the kids respected the volunteers because often they were extended family members or knew the kids’ parents.
Ms Turner said with volunteers now enforcing the rule that children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian when entering the BP complex, they are preventing thousands of dollars of theft every night.
Barkly MLA Steve Edgington volunteered with the group recently.
“We were sitting in the car park (of the BP complex) and we did a couple of walks up the main street and engaging with young people, those who were coming up to the BP and encouraging them to be responsible with their behaviour,” Mr Edgington explained.