A small Cape York town is in danger of overcrowding as displaced people gather there after fleeing New Year’s Day riots in Aurukun.
A small Cape York town is in danger of overcrowding as displaced people gather there after fleeing New Year’s Day riots in Aurukun.

Risk of ‘severe overcrowding’ after community riots

THE small Cook Shire town of Coen is at "risk of severe overcrowding" as after than 100 displaced persons trekked from a camp outside Aurukun to flee rioting mobs.

It is understood the evacuees have left the Aurukun camp with their own means.

Despite reports of violence in the small town, Far Northern District Superintendant Geoff Sheldon said the influx had not caused a spike in crime.

"It's a small community, almost one third again have come in," Supt Sheldon said.

"There has been no crime wave, which is good."

Cook Shire Councillor John 'Chook' Giese said the council was working to ensure the arrivals, many of whom were staying with family, had sufficient accommodation.

"There as a fairly huge influx, but we are trying to keep them all together and keep them all safe," Cr Giese said.

An aerial photograph of Coen.
An aerial photograph of Coen.

A Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service spokesman said the Aurukun arrivals posed "the risk of severe overcrowding."

"We understand about 160- 180 former Aurukun residents have gathered there, placing increased pressure on local residents and resources," the spokesman said.

"Additional displaced people from Aurukun are expected to further swell those numbers in the

coming days as the existing displaced persons' camp at Aurukun gradually empties.

"We are continuing to deliver health services as normal to whomever requires them from our

primary healthcare centre at Coen."

A senior clinical nurse has been sent to bolster staff numbers in Coen and medication stocks have been topped up.

"We are working closely with other health service providers, including Apunipima Cape York

Health Council and the Royal Flying Doctor Service to co-ordinate our healthcare delivery

activities at Coen," the spokesman said.

Meanwhile a TCHHS team found residents at the camp near Aurukun to be in "generally good health".

"Our staff treated a number of people for a variety of minor ailments but found no

major cases of illness or injury.

"The most serious case was a man who needed to have his broken hand replastered."


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