Darwin's homeless or itinerant people are set to benefit from the return of the 'Larrakia Nation Assist' patrol, which transports vulnerable people sleeping rough to safe places, and links them with support organisations. The program sees two staff on the road seven days a week, between 5am and 10am.
The service was cut in 2015 due to financial strife but was re-launched following the release of a video in September, which showed a Darwin tour operator employee hosing a pathway next to an Aboriginal man sitting on the street. The clip drew widespread condemnation on social media and caught the attention of NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner, who said he was "shocked and upset" by the footage.
Since its return, the program has already helped more than a hundred clients in its first four days back in operation, says Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation CEO Robert Cooper.
"Part of improving the lifestyle for our clients is educating other people in the community as to the reasons for the people that they’re engaging with being where they are, and how they can help improve the lot for them as well," Mr Cooper told NITV News.
"It’s not about putting a band-aid on an existing issue, it’s about taking the long-term view about lifestyle for all Northern Territorians."
Day patrol officer Zac described the work as the "best job" he's ever had.
"Just going out there and helping my people... if I can take someone home to their family, then I’m happy," he told reporters on Friday.
The day patrol is among a host of services offered by Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation, including a night patrol from 4pm to midnight, a return to country service helping people get back to their communities and other outreach services.
NT Deputy Chief Minister Nicole Manison said the patrol was part of a "suite of measures to address anti-social itinerant behaviour and homelessness".
"This is about making sure that we’re tackling the issues of anti-social behaviour but importantly helping those people that need that extra support to find the right services," Ms Manison said on Friday.
The returning day patrol is funded until June 2018. A longer-term contract will be awarded from June 2018 onwards.
For assistance, contact the Darwin day and night patrol on 1800 101 645
For help returning to your community, contact the Return to Country team on 1800 290 659