PNG Rascal Violence now in NT


“Now, this ball-faced violence is bursting out like an untreated boil across the NT.” Said, Richard Trudgen Author and Community Educator from Why Warriors Pty Ltd Nhulunbuy NT.

In 1994/5, the then Chief Minister Marshall Perron called the Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra to a meeting, which I also attended as DR Gondarra’s consultant and Community Development Officer/interpreter. The meeting was about “how to stop Darwin from turning into a community of high-wire fence compounds and violence like experienced in Papua New Guinea”.

The then Chief Minister saw the problem and wanted to find solutions.

Starting a conversation

He started working with us through the underlying causes. Trying to get some real clarity and answers. Sadly the process stalled. It seemed that then-cabinet and senior bureaucrats were finding it hard to look beyond their normal cultural lens to find real reasons for the underlying problems.


Who are the first victims here?

People who display all sorts of anti-social end-stage behavioural problems; do not act violently towards the wider community and their own family just because they are bad or bored. There are deeper reasons that need to be understood so that appropriate action can be taken to address them.


This is a cross-cultural cross-language conflict 

This conflict occurs in cross-cultural, cross-language environments across Australia.

This fact alone should be enough to point to the main reasons for this conflict.


A crisis of living

People who commit these acts of violence have already experienced high levels of trauma, confusion and dysfunction over many decades.


Born on the wrong side of society

In a way, Aboriginal youth and young adults have suffered a crisis of living just by being born on the wrong side of the ‘mainstream’ Australian English-speaking culture divide.


Parents unable to smile and enjoy life

Some suffer directly if their parents are also no longer coping. They see their parents unable to smile and enjoy life. They hear of the massacres, intercultural conflict and accounts of injustice that has occurred to their people or families since English-speaking outsiders came to their country. Many suffer from a multilayered crisis.

Three main underlying problems;

                               Intergenerational Transfer of Trauma

                               Intergenerational Transfer of Confusion and

                               Inherent Structural Community Violence



Intergenerational transfer of trauma is fairly well understood. This is where the trauma that their grandparents and parents experienced in their lifetimes is transmitted unknowingly to them. Then their own real-world experience reinforces this trauma and further shape their lives.



The intergenerational transfer of confusion comes from a time when these young people’s forebears couldn’t understand the English-speaking world. These previous generations remain confused about the central underlying mainstream knowledge about a whole range of things, including Western economics, law and even new diseases and sickness that were introduced.

Many will now believe that government provides all the money for all businesses to operate. This leaves them with the question, how come they miss out? This confusion has to be lived to really understand it.



Structural Community Violence comes from the unintentional violence committed by the English-speaking mainstream Australian community against Aboriginal people and their communities.

It is an unrecognised form of violence due to the fact that these Aboriginal people live in a world where they speak and think in an Australian (Aboriginal) language, not the mainstream English language that only arrived here 235 years ago.


Stranded on dysfunctional media islands

They grow up speaking their Australian language or the remnants of their languages. This leaves them excluded from the mainstream dialogue, stranded on dysfunctional media islands, and unable to understand the Western World that has now descended upon them.


To solve this problem, these underlying issues need to be addressed. Otherwise, the tit-for-tat battle will continue despite punitive measures and millions spent.

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Email:   or call 0400 880 954

Richard Trudgen has been working with Yolngu people in Arnhem Land for over 50 years. He speaks Djambarrpuyŋu and is the author of Why Warriors Lie Down and Die. He is the CEO of Why Warriors Pty Ltd, a community development social enterprise company that empowers Yolngu and other First Nations people by providing access to information and building capacity and understanding between Australian Aboriginal people and the Dominant Culture.

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Richard Trudgen