• Overlooking Alice Springs from Anzac Hill (Photo: Central Australian Aboriginal Congress) (Central Australian Aboriginal Congress)Source: Central Australian Aboriginal Congress
An Indigenous representative body in Alice Springs has condemned a vigilante paramilitary group for igniting racism there.
By
Andrea Booth

Source:
NITV News
20 May 2015 - 5:36 PM  UPDATED 29 Jun 2015 - 8:30 PM

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress has called for the Alice Springs Volunteer Force (AVF), to be disbanded. 

"Congress does not support the presence of paramilitary group in Alice Springs," said CEO Donna Ah Chee.

In early May, the AVF issued a call-out via social media for members with military experience.

Gary Hall, a spokesperson for and the only known member of the AVF, posted to a closed group on Facebook an invitation for those with "firearms experience" to join. This ignited a series of racist comments on AVF's Facebook page.

"Typical dirty black f****," wrote one member.

"If they walk out in front of me - I don't slow down. Yes I may hit a few, but word will get around town soon enough," wrote another.

Mr Hall denies that his group is targeting Indigenous people. "What we posted …It wasn't directed at any one particular group, race, ethnicity or anything. We talked about criminals," he said.

"Spread the word to yer buddies. Alice [Springs] is no longer an easy target. If identified as housebreaker, or car thief, you will be severely dealt with," a notice signed "AVF" read on Facebook.

The Northern Territory Police Force says that Hall had inaccurate perceptions about the area's crime rate and that he was being monitored.

"The township is not experiencing the type of crime rate that has been falsely claimed by this individual," said a spokesperson for the Northern Territory Police Force.

According to May 2015 Northern Territory Police data, crime against a person has decreased by 16.8 per cent and crime against property has increased 3.8 per cent in the area.

Hall said that the crime rate was still at an unacceptable level and that police were not effectively controlling crime. "The police can only react [to crime]," he said.

One purpose of the AVF was to get the Territory government to stop being apathetic about social problems in Alice Springs, he added.

"One of our main objectives was to get a reaction from the people that are supposed to be doing [their jobs]," he said.

Hall said government funds were prioritised for bureaucrats' working expenses rather than youth centres, schools and environmental groups. He said extreme action, such as the arrival of a vigilante paramilitary group, was an effective way to draw attention to the problem.

"If [Northern Territory Chief Minister] Adam Giles got a message on Saturday morning saying, 'Oh, oh, chief minister, you'll never guess what, people are sitting down in a community centre talking to a couple of other people', they wouldn't take notice, not at all."