Crime was a hot topic on the agenda at the 2023 Kimberley Economic Forum with local leaders offering their ideas and solutions to the long-lasting issue. In a panel discussion hosted by Clare Smith, East Kimberley Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Amanda McLean, Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley president David Menzel, Wunan Foundation executive chair Ian Trust, MG Corporation chair Lawford Benning and MG Corporation Youth Services manager Marcia Gerard shared their thoughts on the ongoing crisis. The five speakers are all part of the Yajang Yarrawoo Ngoondebtha group who meet on a fortnightly basis in Kununurra to discuss solutions to anti-social behaviour and crime in their town. Ms McLean said the YNN group was established in 2021 after small businesses in Kununurra expressed their dismay at the ongoing crime affecting their business in the remote Kimberley town. “We got together quite quickly, there was a small group of us initially but it expanded to include, WA Police, Youth Justice, the Department of Communities, the Education Department and the Health Department who join us on a weekly or fortnightly basis,” she said. Cr Menzel said the working group had built trust between the organisations in town and a better understanding of the issue but more work needed to be done. “We’re all trying to work to improve the liability in our whole community,” he said. “We’re still suffering from a failure of a process where the State or the Federal funder is trying to work out how to deliver place-based solutions. “Every town needs its own programs specific to the people there and to keep an eye on those programs to make sure clients engage with those programs. “My concern at the moment is that I think all the solutions we need are out there. It’s just that bit of process of how do you get the money and programs delivered into the community so they make a difference.” Mr Trust echoed the sentiment and said pumping more money into the issue would not resolve it. “We’re all for solving problems, so it makes you wonder, what is the nature of the problem, is it political? It’s certainly not about money as we’re spending $32 billion a year on Aboriginal Affairs,” he said. “We also must get away from this process of responding to crisis. We need to get on the front foot and do something in advance.” Mr Benning said strong community leadership was needed to pull the town in a positive direction. “I believe the only way we’re gonna get through this, is leadership that drives and tracks everybody within our town,” he said. “Kununurra is not unique, the world has these issues. “We don’t like this ugly, antisocial behaviour, but it is there. So we can only face up to it, acknowledge it, and then work our way through it.” The Kimberley Economic Forum took place on September 21 and 22.