New start at Shearman Drive
By HELEN JACK
BUNDJALUNG woman Aunty Maria Sharpe was overwhelmed to see so many of her people and residents of Shearman Drive, Goonellabah, gathered before her.
"We have had so many fights and arguments in this street with the police and we want to make amends," she said. "We want to work with police and everyone. "That is why we are having this gathering today."
The gathering was the beginning of a dialogue between the Indigenous community in Shearman Drive and police to try and solve drug and alcohol problems within the community.
"We cannot do this on our own," said Aunty Maria. "The only way we can win is to join together."
Northern Rivers Area Command Superintendent Bruce Lyons said police wanted to work with the community in Goonellabah.
"We want to try and nurture close relationships between police and the Aboriginal community," he said.
"As police officers we need to better understand our Aboriginal brothers and sisters and occasions such as this can only improve that.
Event organiser Rose Walker said she was originally from Tabulam but had lived for 30 years in Goonellabah.
"I have been to many meetings about Shearman Drive and there have been many conversations where we have voiced our concerns," she said.
"Crimes, drugs and alcohol; it's everywhere and we want something done. "That is why we have invited the community and its representatives here today, to hear our concerns.
"We need something up here or our young people will get deeper and deeper into trouble."
More than 100 people, including local MP Thomas George, Supt Lyons, representatives of the NSW Department of Housing and local justice group members, attended the gathering on Tuesday afternoon.