Funding blow for ‘low priority’ patrols

The Nyoongar Patrol, which covers the Cannington and Gosnells areas, aims to resolve conflicts and link Aboriginal people to support services, to avoid arrest.

The service also operates in the northern suburbs, Northbridge, the City of Vincent, Midland, Fremantle and Burswood, but must now reduce its services after it failed to attract Federal funding in the latest round of grants. It has received Federal funding since 2001.

The Midland and Fremantle patrols will lose one day each, and co-ordination staff positions will be reduced from three full-time to one full and one part-time employee.

An Attorney-General’s Department spokesman said its 2013-14 Indigenous Justice Program was not funding any Australian patrols. Another department will fund patrols only in the Northern Territory.

Nyoongar Patrol chief executive Maria McAtackney said the night patrols funding category had ended.

The spokesman said the department had dropped categories to encourage innovation.

He said categories had only guided applicants and were not aligned with specific funding.

The department spokesman said it was inappropriate to explain why the application failed. He said priority was given to projects that demonstrated they would address offending, reoffending and victimisation.

He said State and Territory spending cuts had contributed to a surge in Federal applications, which more than doubled for 2013-14, and the department had tried to raise the program’s profile.

‘Existing grantees were advised that the process would be competitive,’ he said.

Department staff member Carl Lincoln was involved in the review process. He told Ms McAtackney patrols were a low priority but had not been ruled out.

His assessment of the patrol found no gaps or weaknesses, and said it significantly reduced the need for police intervention.