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Elders in 'extraordinary commitment' to Walker inquest

The Warlpiri people have shown an extraordinary commitment to the inquest into the death of Kumanjayi Walker, considering it critical to the future of their children, the inquiry has been told.

Anthropologist Melinda Hinkson gave extensive evidence on Wednesday into the longstanding treatment of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory with special reference to Warlpiri culture.

Speaking of the Warlpiri elders who had occupied the lawns outside the courthouse in Alice Springs for the duration of the inquest, Dr Hinkson said it showed just how important they regarded the investigation.

"It's apparent to everybody who has come into this court that Warlpiri have made an extraordinary commitment to this process," she said.

"They've indicated by their presence on those lawns, day after day, over the many months that you've now been sitting, that the outcome of this process really matters.

"They see the future of their children as being caught up in it."

Dr Hinkson spent time in Yuendumu in the 1990s, the NT town where Mr Walker, a 19-year-old Warlpiri man, was killed in 2019.

Constable Zachery Rolfe fatally shot the Indigenous teenager three times during a bungled arrest.

Const Rolfe had been sent to Yuendumu as part of a special police unit in a bid to take Mr Walker into custody after he absconded from an alcohol rehabilitation clinic.

He was subsequently charged with Mr Walker's murder but was found not guilty after a Supreme Court trial.

In response to questioning, Dr Hinkson agreed that while there was a range of issues that needed to be addressed to prevent the sort of shooting that took place, the provision of housing was one of the most important. Especially, she said, as a prerequisite to solving other problems with education, health and domestic violence.

"Housing is certainly a basic and integral part of any kind of response to that conjuncture of issues," Dr Hinkson said.

"We know that in Australia there's a very long and complicated saga in relation to the funding of remote housing with a very, very chronic shortfall historically."

In Wednesday's hearing, NT Police Assistant Commissioner Bruce Porter also returned to the stand. He agreed that repeated instances where Const Rolfe failed to activate his body-worn camera had not been dealt with adequately, particularly in instances where there were allegations of excessive use of force.

But he said that did not suggest the remedial action generally taken in relation to such incidents was ineffective.

"I'm not suggesting that it's effective for every single person, every single time," Mr Porter said.

"But on evidence of what we have in giving remedial advice to other members, there's no evidence of reoccurrence of their misconduct."