In recent times, Gunnedah has witnessed a surge in property and youth-related crimes like many other towns but while there have been commendable efforts by various individuals and groups to curb this menace, the escalating tensions have inadvertently provided a platform for anti-Indigenous groups and racists.

And these factions have seized the opportunity to target and malign Indigenous families, further complicating the situation.

A Glimpse into the Re-offending Patterns in NSW & Boggabri Coal Mine

So data from the NSW criminal courts reveals a concerning trend. In 2010, 55% of the offenders found guilty were re-convicted of another offence within a decade of their initial crime.

And this pattern of re-offending is particularly pronounced among the youth, with a staggering 81% of young individuals convicted in 2010 facing another conviction within the subsequent ten years. In contrast, this figure stands at 54% for adults.

Then you add Boggabri Coal Mine, which is operated by Idemitsu Australia and stands as a significant entity in the region as a major employer supporting a workforce of approximately 600 employees and contractors, with many workers moving to Gunnedah.

But when rehabilitation, support programs and sentencing for youth crime fail to address a subset of Aboriginal youth involved in recurrent negative behaviours, combined with mining companies that have recently been scrutinised for allegations of sexual harassment against women—let alone their actions towards Indigenous communities—and the absence of impactful interventions in the Indigenous community to address social challenges like crime through poverty reduction, we end up with this situation…

Boggabri Coal Mine Workers Accused of Illegally Apprehending Aboriginal Minor

It seems that merely joking about it on Snapchat wasn’t sufficient for this group, who face accusations of unlawfully detaining an Aboriginal minor, so they also reportedly took to Meta Facebook groups in Gunnedah to boast about their actions.

Safeguard Indigenous Human Rights: Idemitsu Australia's Boggabri Coal Mine_Tara Wilkinson _ Doohan Honess

And while the post garnered significant likes (perhaps from fellow Boggabri Coal Mine employees?), it raises several concerns.

Firstly, not only do they claim to have made a “citizen’s arrest” of a minor, but they’ve also repeatedly boasted online about apprehending a young individual they accuse of lurking near homes.

So shouldn’t entities like the eSafety Commissioner on cyberbullying look into these adults? Since their primary focus appears to be on shaming an Aboriginal minor online for social media recognition…

But there are more pressing concerns regarding these individuals and Idemitsu Australia’s Boggabri Coal Mine.

And despite the rhetoric on reconciliation and backing the Aboriginal community, tangible benefits in Gunnedah appear scant.

In fact, many Aboriginal residents have felt the adverse effects, with rising living costs and housing prices attributed to the mine’s operations.

Additionally, allegations surround their employees for possibly conducting unlawful citizen arrests and engaging in online harassment of the Indigenous community.

And had Idemitsu’s employee inquired about the Aboriginal youth’s activities that night instead of hastily pursuing and accusing him of ‘snooping around,’ the young individual might have explained he was simply returning from his grandmother’s residence, as illustrated by the travel path provided below.

Safeguard Indigenous Human Rights: Idemitsu Australia's Boggabri Coal Mine_Tara Wilkinson _ Doohan Honess
The young Aboriginal man claims he was en route to his mother’s home from his grandmother’s and alleges that upon encountering the couple, they began pursuing him, prompting him to run along the path leading to his mother’s residence.

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