SIGN UP for our newsletter ✉️ :

Get the latest stories delivered straight to you

Poor services hinder social work, Walker probe told

A lack of staff, funding and housing in the remote community where Kumanjayi Walker lived are making it difficult for a local youth services provider to do its work, an inquest has heard.

The head of Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation, Glenda Abraham, told the inquest into Mr Walker's death of the difficulties of recruiting and housing staff at Yuendumu, 300km northwest of Alice Springs.

"It's almost near impossible to convince somebody to pick up their life and move to Yuendumu when their employment contracts are linked directly to a grant funding arrangement that might be six or 12 months in length," she said on Thursday.

Ms Abraham, who started her role six weeks ago, said negative perceptions of the community were impacting local wellbeing.

"Come talk to us," she said, referring to the community.

"I would even encourage you to come in and spend a week with us."

Earlier, a senior government employee told the inquest there was a service gap for young people in Central Australia.

She said government departments had missed opportunities that could have changed the trajectory for Kumanjayi Walker and his family.

Gabrielle Brown, executive director of family services at Territory Families, Housing and Communities, raised poor communication across departments and failures to pick up on early behavioural signs as key mistakes that may have affected Mr Walker's life.

Ms Brown 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".

Ms Brown said, in retrospect, she questioned why Mr Walker had only been assessed for cognitive impairment at 17, despite the Department of Education flagging patterns of behavioural issues as young as six years old.

Ms Brown said the assessment by a forensic psychologist was the first that really looked at some of the drivers behind Mr Walker's behaviour.

The psychologist found Mr Walker had mild to moderate intellectual impairment and indicated the need for co-ordinated assistance across youth justice, corrections and education.

"I'm not saying diagnosis is the be all and end all," Ms Brown told the inquest.

"But there is enough information to say there were opportunities to try and quantify or understand ... what may be driving some of the behaviours and why the challenges for the family were so great."

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

The Alice Springs inquest was established in early September 2022 to examine the wider circumstances surrounding the 19-year-old Warlpiri man's shooting.

This round of hearings for the inquest is expected to continue for one more day, with representatives from the department of the Chief Minister and a community policing panel expected to give evidence on Friday.