A retired doctor from the remote area who worked with the murdered interior nurse, Gayle Woodford, said in a coronary investigation that Fregon It was the most violent community in which he had worked.
- A coronary investigation began yesterday about the murder of nurse Gayle Woodford in 2016
- Former GP Glynis Johns told the investigation that Fregon was the most violent place he had worked.
- She suggested that the community should be closed.
Ms. Woodford’s body was found in a shallow grave near Fregon in the remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) of southern Australia in March 2016.
Mrs. Woodford had worked as a nurse at the Nganampa Health Council (NHC) for almost five years and was on guard the night she was killed.
Dudley Davey was sentenced to life imprisonment with a 32-year probation period for her kidnapping, rape and murder.
“[Gayle] I just had so much skill and patience and she really wanted to try her best, “former GP Glynis Johns said in the investigation into Mrs. Woodford’s death today.
He said Ms. Woodford had performed “miracles” in a community that Dr. Johns described as the most violent in which she had worked during her 15 years in remote Aboriginal communities.
Dr. Johns told the coronary investigation that Fregon required a permanent police presence, and she had requested it numerous times.
“This is like the old Wild West, this is a place without law,” he told the investigation.
“I was very worried about Fregon, everyone who worked at that clinic was worried about the level of violence … I was especially worried that young children were exposed to this violence.
“In many other communities, there was violence in the communities and there was always an immediate response from the police.”
“I know that NHC had often approached the police to request a better police presence in Fregon … the reason given by the state government was obviously financing, and I can understand that, but it was not a functioning community.”
Lack of facilities and financing.
Dr. Johns told the investigation that she never feared for her own safety.
However, he said that violence in the community was handled “inappropriately” by federal and state governments, SA police, the CNH and the Anangu elders in Fregon.
She said that Fregon was the only remote community she had worked in that she didn’t have safe house for women and children to escape domestic violence, which meant that victims often went to nurses’ homes after hours to call the police.
The investigation heard that Dr. Johns found the violence so worrying that she had suggested that the community be closed.
“In no way would I think of that as a punitive measure, I simply believe that these are people who should be taken care of,” he told the investigation.
“They are marginalized people who have suffered a lot in the history of white occupation in Australia and I think we have an obligation to provide a safe environment.”
She acknowledged that there was still an “imperative need” for a community health clinic.
She said verbal threats were common against health workers, but often they were not recorded.
“Otherwise, we would have spent our entire lives writing incident reports,” he told the investigation.
Fregon’s former nurse, Belinda Shultz, told the investigation that the health clinic was closed weekly due to violence in the community.
But she said there was a “disdainful culture” by NHC management when clinical staff raised safety concerns.
“They told you it was OK for this culture or violence to happen in this community and this is how it is here, “he said.
“And if you can’t deal with that level of violence and that level of risk, then maybe you are not the right one for this job, maybe you are not strong enough, strong enough.”
Shultz said there were very few ways to contact the police if there was an emergency in the community.
“Very few homes had landlines, there was no mobile phone coverage and most of the … public phones were not in service,” he said.
The investigation continues.
murder and homicide,
courts and trials,
doctors and medical professionals,