TAKING BACK THE STREETS
PATROL GROUP NEEDS FUNDS
group of elders patrolling the streets of Mt Druitt at night has helped reduce the number of Samoan youths getting into trouble but the program is now fighting for funding.
A GROUP of Samoan elders who patrol the streets of Mt Druitt at night are on the verge of running out of funding.
The Elders Patrol aims to reduce crime in the area, especially those committed by Samoan young people.
The group patrols the streets of Mt Druitt and often get called out to incidents involving Samoan or pacific islander youths.
The patrol received a 100,000 grant for two years from the Department of Families and Community Services.
The group is now seeking additional funding to support its activities after June.
Nuuialii Tua Afele, president of the Samoan Community Support Services Western Sydney, is one of the 26-member team who patrol Mt Druitt for two to three hours on Thursday and Saturday nights.
Mr Afele said the elders have been able to keep youths out of jail.
He said the key to keeping Samoan young people out of trouble was helping them to integrate into both Australian and Samoan cultures.
“We’re trying to mesh the two cultures together,” he said.
The Elders Patrol was able to calm tensions after a 14- year-old girl was allegedly attacked by men last year.
“We met with the families and we were able to sort it out,” Mr Afele said.
Mt Druitt state Labor MP Edmond Atalla said he supported the work of cultural groups which assisted the community.
“I would support any program that stops police resources being tied up unnecessarily,” he said.
Uliuli Tavai has been a volunteer for the Elders Patrol for ten years.
“I joined this group because I have grandchildren too,” Ms Tavai said.
“I know (the patrol is) better to keep my grandchildren safe.
“To take out some of the hard stuff from the police and leave them to do the major crimes. This small stuff for us its nothing compared to what the police do.”
Aiga Oloaga, Uliuli Tavai, Nuuialii Tua Afele and Nanai Loau are part of the Elders Patrol.