With limited funding available for Council sport and recreation activities, VDRC Night Patrol teams across the region are stepping up to fill in the gaps.
As identified in VDRC’s 2022 Get Active Report, sport and recreation plays an important role in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and is even shown to reduce offending behaviour and improve health and wellbeing.
In the community of Bulla, VDRC’s Night Patrol team is working closely with the local primary school – making the school lunches in exchange for use of recreation facilities to hold basketball matches, footy games, and water-based activities after school.
Several movie nights for students with good school attendance rates have also been held in recent months.
After the activities wind up, the Community Night Patrol team begin their normal shift, providing culturally appropriate care for all community members at risk of either causing harm or being harmed.
Melissa Motlap, VDRC’s Community Safety and Wellbeing Manager, said this initiative was successfully stopping kids from wandering the streets at night.
“Engaging our little ones in safe, physical activities means they are less likely to get bored late at night and wander the streets,” she said.
“It’s also about our Night Patrol team building strong relationships with the kids and their parents, so that if the kids do get into trouble, our team is in a better position to actually help them.”
While the after-school program has been successfully running in Bulla for several months, the council are now in the process of rolling out the program on a more consistent basis across the rest of the Victoria Daly region.
Currently, night patrol teams in Timber Creek and Pine Creek coordinate after-school activities a couple of times a week and are about to launch a similar program in Kalkarindji.
And with school holidays approaching, the teams are looking into the best way to keep the programs going across the six-week break.
Motlap said providing activities like this were “critical” for the community.
“The kids absolutely love it, they really just have a ball,” she said.
“But it’s about more than that. It’s about working together to deal with behavioural issues inside the community.”
You can find out more about our Night Patrol team here: https://www.victoriadaly.nt.gov.au/our-services/safety/