Lynnette Hoffman; 17/4/10
Five nights a week, from 7pm to the wee hours of the morning, an all local, all-indigenous team employed by the Tangentyere Council patrols the town camps and remote communities around Alice Springs. They’re on the lookout for potentially stressful situations where they can be of assistance. For instance, they may defuse a brewing argument or transport an intoxicated person to a safe house or a sobering shelter.Team members are trained in a variety of skills including early intervention for drug and alcohol, suicide prevention, first aid and security, with an emphasis on dealing with difficult people and situations, says Marg Reilly, manager of Tangentyere Council’s social services department.It’s a simple concept and it works well; the Tangentyere Council Night Patrol is in its 20th year of operation. In fact, it has been credited by the federal government with improving safety and reducing reliance on police patrols, and cited by experts as an effective means of reducing problems associated with alcohol and substance abuse.