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Clash of the paradigms: Night patrols in remote central Australia



Ms Jennifer Walker-Turner


This thesis explores the origins of Night Patrols in Remote Central Australia and how they address the necessity of developing new forms of social regulation, which acknowledge Indigenous cultural laws and ways of knowing in Central Australia.

It explains the impact of diverse origins of remote Aboriginal communities, whether they are mission or pastoral, on the functionality of both the settlements and their Patrols. The thesis also identifies the most significant forms and sources of risks to health and safety in remote Aboriginal settlements in the region, with a particular focus on alcohol, substance misuse and violence. It investigates some forms of Aboriginal conflict such as “jealousing” that have no non-Indigenous equivalent and explains why the Patrols, being cultural insiders, are particularly effective at mediating and resolving these forms of conflict.


The thesis identifies the most significant threats to the functionality and sustainability of remote settlement Patrols as the result of the recent imposition of culturally alien operational modes and models, largely as a result of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER, or ‘the Intervention’), and the simultaneously implemented new NT Shire system of local government.

The thesis concludes that the new operational Patrol regimes are not congruent with the essential basis in cultural law of remote Aboriginal settlement Patrols, and that this is the factor that represents the most significant threat to their ongoing effectiveness, functionality, and existence.

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