DAVID HURLEY, Herald Sun
Who said Nuer and Dinka will be the same again? A TASKFORCE of South Sudanese community leaders established by Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton seven weeks ago has been riddled with internal political divisions which have hindered its progress.
Mr Ashton confirmed this morning that a group from Melbourne’s southeast and a group from the city’s west were at odds with each other.
The Chief Commissioner confirmed there had been issues between the Dinka and Nuer groups.
“It is not my issue to get involved with their internal issues around politics,” Mr Ashton said on 3AW.
“As long as I can get assistance with trying to settle down those elements in the community.”
Mr Ashton said members of the community were helping Victoria Police but it was correct to say the taskforce — which was announced with a highly publicised press conference in early January — had not yet got into “full stride”.
“It has met a few times and it is trying to form up its membership for us,” Mr Ashton said.
“My request to them was to form up a taskforce to assist with the community.
“We have been having issues with African youth offenders and that has been an ongoing problem for us for quite some time.
“We want the community to be involved in sorting that issue out.”
Mr Ashton said he had asked Melbourne’s South Sudanese community to sort out the membership and to let Victoria Police know what the membership will be.
“They are still working through it,” Mr Ashton said.
“They have met a few times and we have been going along to those meetings.
“But it is a very political environment. There are elections coming up within the community about different office holders.
“It is still an ongoing thing we have to deal with but we continue to work with them.
“It is not my issue to get involved with their internal issues around politics … as long as I can get assistance with trying to settle down those elements in the community.”
Mr Ashton said he hoped the issue would be resolved promptly.
“It is not in full stride yet but it is up and is working to some extent,” he said.
“It is going to take time to do all that because there is politics in the community.”