A rogue GP drove 14 hours from Cairns to treat wounded at a camp outside Aurukun as the town locked down after New Year’s Day riots.
A rogue GP drove 14 hours from Cairns to treat wounded at a camp outside Aurukun as the town locked down after New Year’s Day riots.

Doctor’s brave Aurukun mercy mission

A ROGUE GP drove 14 hours from Cairns to treat wounded at a camp outside Aurukun as the town locked down after New Year's Day riots.

The doctor, of the Apunipima Cape York Health Council, ignored directions to keep away from the troubled community.

CODE BLACK

State agencies have been operating under "Code Black" and had deemed it too dangerous to approach the camp, which was established by NGO Kapani Warriors.

"Out of his own money the GP bought medication that was needed," a camp volunteer said.

"The occupants are in absolute fear; we have one kid who needs to be evacuated - he has an open wound.

"The GP tended to four day old wounds that had not been treated - basically stuff you would see in refugee camps in third world countries."

One of eight houses in Aurukun which was destroyed by a rioting mob after a fatal stabbing. Picture: Supplied
One of eight houses in Aurukun which was destroyed by a rioting mob after a fatal stabbing. Picture: Supplied

A Queensland Health spokesman said medical cases would be treated at the Aurukun clinic for safety reasons.

The camp volunteer, who has remained anonymous for fear of reprisal, said the camp occupants were "pretty shell shocked, basically traumatised."

The only thing you can compare it to is sectarian violence.

"We had Department of Housing come out and said 'this is just too big. They were horrified at the despair and desperation of these people," he said.
A Department of Housing spokesman confirmed its team was "working with affected families to provide advice and support and assessing properties."

The latest displaced persons - three elderly women - brought the number of those known to be seeking refuge in bushland to 119 people.

The women were allegedly rescued out from under the noses of a mob of about 80 people, some of whom were armed with tomahawks.

The lynch mob had allegedly searched vehicles looking for men associated with two youths who have been charged with the murder of a 37-year-old man on New Year's Day.

 

"DEVASTATING"

Unofficial camp spokeswoman Topsy Bowenda said the those living out bush were still too afraid to return to Aurukun.

She had fled Aurukun in the middle of the night with about 70 other evacuees after rioters set fire to eight houses on the night of the alleged murder.

"It was devastating," Ms Bowenda said.

Topsy Bowenda and her son Jahtavious Toikalkan, then 6 months, in 2018. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE.
Topsy Bowenda and her son Jahtavious Toikalkan, then 6 months, in 2018. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE.

She is still fearful that the bushland refuge will be discovered.

"We are afraid that what happened in Aurukun would happen all over again out here," Ms Bowenda said.

On Sunday night she was told her own house had been wrecked and looted by a vengeful mob.

Financial support is trickling through to Kapani - it is understood $2000 from the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy and $10,000 from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The money, while welcome, does not stretch very far given the growing roster of camp occupants.

"That is for eight families that have lost their homes and myriad other that are running for their lives," the camp volunteer said.

"A portaloo block for one week from Weipa is $7500.

Police photos of Aurukun community unrest. A man was stabbed to death on New Year’s Day which has sparked reprisal attacks. Eight houses connected with the family of the alleged murders have been destroyed. - Supplied by Queensland Police Service
Police photos of Aurukun community unrest. A man was stabbed to death on New Year’s Day which has sparked reprisal attacks. Eight houses connected with the family of the alleged murders have been destroyed. - Supplied by Queensland Police Service

"There is a sense from some quarters that these people are just trying to scab some sort of welfare, I have had that said to me a few times.

"The only thing that has been asked of me is an old man asking for some cold water.

"That is the only request beyond essential survival needs that we have had."

 

CLAN ALLIANCES

While the camp occupants eye the roads warily, the clan politics in Aurukun have shifted.

Police Superintendent Geoff Sheldon said officers were gathering intelligence on family allegiances.

It is understood that 60 fighting aged males had fled to Coen and on the weekend a major clan group has declared support for those who have been hunted over the last week.

"We are still trying to make the community as safe as we can," Supt Sheldon said.

Queensland Police Superintendent Geoff Sheldon has co-ordinated police efforts to contain and reduce rioting in Aurukun, following the stabbing murder of a 37 year old man in the indigenous community. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Queensland Police Superintendent Geoff Sheldon has co-ordinated police efforts to contain and reduce rioting in Aurukun, following the stabbing murder of a 37 year old man in the indigenous community. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

"We are trying to return (the displaced persons) as soon as we can."

Aurukun Shire Council CEO Bernie McCarthy said the council was "urgently assessing what assistance can be provided to ensure sanitation services for temporary camps within and outside the Shire's area."

"Council will continue to request government assistance to determine how the displaced people can be best managed" Mr McCarthy said.

DATSIP was approached for comment.


NAMED: Who’s appearing in Tambo Magistrates Court

premium_icon NAMED: Who’s appearing in Tambo Magistrates Court

People fronting Tambo Magistrates Court next Tuesday, February 17.

Full scale of historic flood painted in mud

premium_icon Full scale of historic flood painted in mud

AN ARMY of volunteers and residents is busy scrubbing Jandowae

BOOZED UP: Here's a list of drug and drink drivers in court

premium_icon BOOZED UP: Here's a list of drug and drink drivers in court

Numerous drug and drink drivers were charged ilast week.