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Judicial CP - January 2005

Corpun file 14960

The Sun-Herald, Sydney, 16 January 2005

Thugs need a good flogging, says elder

By Denis Gregory
The Sun-Herald

Lawlessness on a housing estate has prompted Aboriginal leaders to suggest that a more traditional punishment for offenders might help to solve some of the problems.

Terry Doolan, an elder who manages a community centre on the Gordon estate at Dubbo, said the young people causing most of the trouble "needed a good flogging".

It was a matter of other young Aborigines pulling them aside and teaching them a lesson in the old ways, Mr Doolan said.

"That would put them on notice that if they don't stop doing this, they were going to kill someone and then all hell would break loose," he said.

"We can't advocate that action, of course, but it is what should happen."

He said the young people committing the crimes were still walking around. They needed to be taught a lesson, they needed to be made accountable for their crimes and if they wanted to act like criminals, they needed to be treated like men.

National Indigenous Council member and ALP vice-president Warren Mundine agreed that drastic steps needed to be taken to restore law and order in the Housing Department estate in west Dubbo.

Mr Mundine said the lawlessness had to stop. "What we have to do is convince the powers that be that we have to get rid of the troublemakers," he said. "Unfortunately, police know that if they try to enforce the laws, some of the do-gooders and the media jump up and down, get stuck into them and call them racists.

"But at the same time we have to take responsibility for our own behaviour. I'm quite open to the suggestion of having Aboriginal security, but Aboriginal people have to support that as well because I've seen Aboriginal police crucified and accused of joining the other side."

Mr Mundine said that in traditional Aboriginal societies, if people did the wrong thing they were severely punished - including flogging, spearing, being banned from the community and even death.

But he warned that care was needed in the use of any traditional law.

Mr Mundine said he had seen thugs take over communities and then use the powers of traditional law to set themselves up as dictators.

There could not be functional families while all the crime and assaults on women and children were going on, he said.

"We have to defend Aboriginal families and ensure people trying to destroy them are dealt with."

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