Yuendumu property now a ‘memory house’ for Walker

House 511, now known as memory house, is where Constable Zachary Rolfe shot Kumanjayi Walker.

House 511, now known as memory house, is where Constable Zachary Rolfe shot Kumanjayi Walker. Photo: AAP

The home where Kumanjayi Walker was fatally shot by police is now a “memory house” out of respect for the Indigenous teenager, the inquest into his death has been told.

At the request of the 19-year-old’s family, the property in Yuendumu, northwest of Alice Springs, has been removed from the Northern Territory government’s replacement and refurbishment program for public housing.

Territory Families, Housing and Communities deputy chief executive Brent Warren said talks were underway with the current tenants about finding them alternative accommodation.

“It’s my understanding that the request received was to stop treating that property as public housing, so that it could be used as a memorial for the sad death,” Mr Warren said.

But he said the department was committed to continuing to make repairs and maintain the house as necessary.

“We need to clarify whether it’s going to be used as a home or whether it’s going to be used as a place to visit and memorialised,” he said.

“Because that will determine what kind of maintenance we do there.”

Mr Walker was fatally shot by Constable Zachary Rolfe during a bungled outback arrest in Yuendumu in November 2019.

He died while receiving first aid treatment at the town’s police station.

The inquiry into his death was previously told that a special police unit, brought in from Alice Springs to detain the teenager, had gone to the house earlier than originally planned.

After the shooting, Const Rolfe was charged with his murder but was acquitted after a Supreme Court trial.

In other evidence on Friday, the inquest will hear from a community policing panel and a representative of the Northern Territory chief minister’s department.

Their evidence will come a day after a senior government director said poor communication across departments and failures to pick up on early behavioural signs were key mistakes that might have affected Mr Walker’s life.

Gabrielle Brown, executive director of family services at Territory Families, Housing and Communities, said in reviewing his file, “there was likely very clear missed opportunities to try and change the trajectory for Kumanjayi”.

She said picking up on these earlier “would have provided a greater support to the family to understand what was going on, and how best to raise Kumanjayi and what services or support was needed”.


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