Woorabinda incident sent to Crime and Corruption Commission

UPDATE: A SPOKESPERSON from the Queensland Police Service says senior police are continuing to discuss issues raised by the Woorabinda community with local representatives, including the mayor. 

"There have been no reports of unrest within the community following Monday's meeting outside the police station," they said.

"The QPS has received a complaint against police relating to an incident on Saturday night and it has been referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission for consideration."

INITIAL: TENSIONS between Woorabinda residents and police are so fraught, mayor Shane Wilkie believes things could have erupted into riots if it wasn't for a community meeting held yesterday.

Cr Wilkie told The Morning Bulletin about 300 people gathered to raise concerns about the relationship between police and the community after an alleged incident involving the arrest of a pregnant woman on Saturday night.

LISTEN: Mayor Shane Wilkie seaks about the community concerns over relationship between residents and police

The claims come after incidents in the indigenous community of Aurukun in far north Queensland and during National Reconciliation Week.

No Caption
No Caption Trinette Stevens


He said the community anger stemmed from an incident on Saturday night which "got out of control" after a driver was pulled over.

"It just broke out from there," Cr Wilkie said.

"The police felt threatened so they called on other police to come to the scene because there were people walking past."

It's understood three people were charged following the incident.

"It's minor stuff in our eyes, but they weren't obeying police directions," Cr Wilkie said.

However, it's understood the community was angered by the alleged treatment of one of the people arrested.

The pregnant woman told The Morning Bulletin her arm was twisted behind her back as she was arrested.

The woman said as she was taken into custody, she told officers she would be making an official complaint and they allegedly responded with a racial slur.

Cr Wilkie said the community gathered outside the police station yesterday "wanting answers" for this treatment, which they say is part of a wider problem.

He said concerns were also raised about "police kicking doors down" in regards to alcohol-related incidents and "strip searching people in the streets".

"We will ask those community people to put those letters in to go through the right complaints process," Cr Wilkie said.

But the community meeting wasn't just about raising concerns, with Cr Wilkie saying a plan was put together to tackle the issues.

"We've got a group of 10 to 12 people who will act as an advocate group on justice issues," he said.

Cr Wilkie said the group wanted to work with the police and council to make sure correct processes were followed and respected.

He said the issues had been building "for quite a while".

"I'm hoping not only my community remain calm, but the police relax a bit until tensions are cooled down because at the moment it's pretty heated and it wouldn't take much to tip it over the edge.

"I've spoken to Queensland Police Service in Rockhampton and they fully understand what needs to happen here and they have assured me they will investigate the incident and other stuff that's taken place over the weekend so we don't get into a situation where we could have people rioting.

"I think if we hadn't had this meeting today and people hadn't had their say, it would have gotten very close to that because there were a lot of angry people.

"It was just good that we had some community elders there that were able to talk about patience and processes because otherwise this would have gotten out of control."

Cr Wilkie believed things would "get a lot better" following the meeting, "as long as both sides can look at common sense".

"I can assure you we live in a community that's quite safe and I think we can get through this by talking to our people," he said.

A Queensland Police Service spokesperson told The Morning Bulletin an official complaint had been received in relation to an incident in Woorabinda.

"The incident is now the subject of an internal investigation and as such it would not be appropriate to comment further," the spokesperson said.

Fast facts:

  • Woorabinda was first established in 1927, with land gazetted from the County of Waroona, as a replacement for the Aboriginal camp of Taroom Government Settlement
  • It is home to approximately 1000 people
  • The latest figures (from 2008) identifies Woorabinda residents as having a mean annual income of $27,924

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