MEDIA RELEASE: Union calls on Department to relocate Umbakumba teachers immediately

“Children wielding machetes” – Union calls on Department of Education to relocate teaching staff in Umbakumba immediately

MEDIA RELEASE – for immediate release 12 noon 9 August 2021

The AEU NT has today called on the Department of Education to immediately relocate all teaching staff stationed in the community of Umbakumba on Groote Eylandt to ensure their safety.

This follows escalating violence in the community in recent months, with teaching staff repeatedly the victim of break-ins, often during the middle of the night, by intruders wielding machetes and axes. They have damaged school buildings and vehicles, often leaving behind large weapons. The offenders are as young as 11 in some cases.

Weapons left behind at recent break-in and attempted break-in to employees’ housing

The union contacted the Department six days ago on behalf of members who requested to be relocated to the mining town Alyangula, 65 kilometres away. The Department has not responded to the union’s correspondence and has given no indication it will agree to relocating employees on anything other than a short-term basis. Departmental officers claim there is insufficient housing stock available, however the union understands there are empty dwellings in Alyangula which could be rented for employees.