Inside the remote Aboriginal community so dangerous that health workers need a POLICE ESCORT just to enter the town and shop owners fear for their lives amid theft and vandalism spree
When I was living in Cairns during my teens, Yarrabah was just across the water on the other side of Trinity Bay. So we heard a lot about Yarrabah then. I have also driven through it once a few years ago. It was never a paradise but it was not remotely as lawless as it now is reported to be.
Why the change? I think it is of a piece with morality and ethics worldwide. The old Christian standards have largely been lost and the Leftist gospel that "There is no such thing as right and wrong" is widely preached. At Yarrabah we see that gospel in extreme practice. The unfortunate Aborigines tend to accept what the do-gooders tell them
The remote Aboriginal community of Yarrabah has been deemed so dangerous that health workers require a police escort when they enter the town and supermarket workers are in fear for their lives.
Youths in Yarrabah, east of Cairns, have attacked ambulances with rocks and fishing sinkers - and medics fear they will be set upon again.
Locals blame the violence on boredom arising from unemployment, and acknowledged that it made the area 'a miserable place to live'.
Footage of recent attacks showed gangs of children, some as young as six, brawling with each other on the street.
Paramedics Richard Murgha and Lavin Keyes Jnr were discouraged by the violence. The medics told Yarrabah News: 'We want to look after our community and people within the community to the best of our ability, and when these sort of things happen it's very disheartening.'
A long-term resident, that wished to remain anonymous, told the Cairns Post the town had become 'a miserable place to live' since the fighting had escalated recently.
She said: 'Kids are fighting and instead of sorting it out, the adults are jumping in and getting involved. 'It's been going on for the three months with these families — they bring in extended family from out of town and it's just snowballing. 'All these kids are just sitting on the side of the road waiting for the next fight.'
Yarrabah supermarket owner Jason Lee, 35, who opened his business in the community five years ago, witnesses violence regularly.
'The vast majority are unemployed so they don't have a lot to do, so all it takes is for a kid to say something stupid [to another] and they brawl,' Mr Lee told Daily Mail Australia.
Mr Lee has been assaulted on numerous occasions and his business had been broken into regularly, with 16 incidents between mid October and December 2018.
He said his attackers were mostly children, and some were as young as four or five.
The soon-to-be father said: 'They [children] know that they are untouchable and parents don't care.
'Kids will generally get banned from shops for theft or violence. They get upset and come back and throw things at the shop. Then their parents come and get aggressive because their children have been banned.'
The shopkeeper has also been attacked with a nine kilogram gas bottle on multiple occasions, had things thrown at him, and been beaten by metal poles.
He said the youths usually break into his shop through the roof and thrash the shop while stealing whatever they can. Food items are left splattered across the shop floor and his ATM has been destroyed.
His car has also been smashed when parked outside the shop many times, with the most recent incident five months ago.
Queensland Police said officers had to escort workers into town to keep the medics safe. 'This is short-term measure being undertaken to increase safety and ensure the vital hospital operation continues without incident,' a police spokesman said.
'The small number of people, numbering two or four, involved in these incidents are usually motivated by family relationships or disputes and an attending crowd of supporters/onlookers not directly involved in the fighting.
'Police investigations are continuing, but four juveniles aged from nine to 14 are being dealt with in accordance with the Youth Justice Act and the support of their parents.'
Just last month Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Aboriginal Corporation warned locals via Facebook that organisations would stop sending workers into the town.
'We are asking you to please talk to children about pelting rocks at cars and explain to them about how dangerous it is for the people in the cars, and that they can get into serious trouble with the police and also that some of the health services could be stopped,' the post read.
Yarrabah community and its leaders do not shy away from admitting they have problems, Mayor Ross Andrews says. 'We acknowledge there are challenges around dysfunction and we're honest with ourselves – we know we have a problem,' he said. 'There are only a handful of kids causing these problems but we do not shy away from these issues.
'We could put more dollars into the community to try to solve the problem, but that's not going to make parents accountable for their kids.
'How can we stop this cycle where we are trying to educate and occupy kids to stop them from ending up in a perpetual welfare trap – a job their parents should be doing, even though they are often stuck in the same trap themselves.
'As a Council, and with the Yarrabah Leaders' Forum, we are looking for legislative backing to make parents responsible, we need a collaborative solution between all levels of government, we can't fix this on our own.'