CRIME SURGES IN BOURKE – POLICE FRUSTRATED


Bourke Police have been kept busy with serious crime in recent weeks. Pictured are Senior Constable Brooke Gibson and Constable Hugh Aikman. PHOTO TWH

Police and community leaders are frustrated as crime continues to surge in Bourke affecting health services and the appointment of doctors and nurses to the town.

On the weekend a doctor who arrived in Bourke for a trial, had his car stolen and burnt out and was trying to hitch a ride back to Dubbo on Sunday.

This follows an incident where student nurses and a young mother and child were held at knife point in the early hours of the morning after several violent break, enter and steal events.

Sydney University has withdrawn students from Bourke and Ochre Health has expressed concern and disgust following yet another spate of break and enter offences and vehicle thefts.

A group of student nurses were held up at knifepoint when offenders broke into their sleeping quarters behind the Bourke District Hospital, with university management immediately recalling the students, offering them counselling, and reviewing their commitment to providing nurses to the town.

Just days after the incident, a doctor visiting Bourke for potential placement at Ochre Health, had his vehicle stolen and had to find transport to get out of the town – almost certainly never to return.

The founders of Ochre Health are deeply concerned about the impact the current crime wave is having on the recruitment of doctors and the University of Sydney said it would not deploy nurses to Bourke while there was a risk of assault and a lack of security at their accommodation.

A university spokesperson said the welfare of students was their ‘top priority’.

“We were very sorry to hear about the recent incident in Bourke involving four of our students and a student from another university,” the spokesperson said.

“The welfare of our students is always our priority. Our four students have now travelled back to their homes, and we will continue to ensure they have access to any ongoing support they may need with their studies or health.

“As part of a post-incident review, we will be assessing the security of the student accommodation where the incident occurred.

“We have paused further students attending placements in Bourke until this review has been completed.

“We welcome the findings of the police investigation, and discussions with our health partners and community about how we can work together to ensure the safety of our students on placements.”

The withdrawal of the student nurses is a devastating blow to the town, which has struggled to attract health workers, doctors, nurses, and other medical staff.

Co-founder of Ochre Health, Dr Ross Lamplugh said the incident at the weekend which left the doctor stranded in Bourke will make recruitment even more difficult.

“The people who commit these crimes don’t see how far reaching the effects are across the community,” Dr Lamplugh said.

“Bourke is a fantastic town and 99 per cent of the people there are really committed to the community, but there is that one per cent who make it very difficult.

“It is hard enough to attract doctors to any remote town and if there are issues of security it just gets more difficult.

“These doctors have a lot of choice – they’re looking at settling into a community that has schools for their children, jobs, services and security.

“They’ll choose somewhere where they feel safe- so something like this does have a big impact.


Read more local news in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

To subscribe call (02) 6872 2333 today and receive The Western Herald in your letterbox next week!