Senior Sergeant Erica Gibson has spent her career building connections and helping create safe places for women in the NT.
Story Kerry Sharp Photos Julianne Osborne
On a balmy June night in remote Wadeye, 400km south-west of Darwin, local bands are belting out songs to the boisterous applause of hundreds of captivated concert-goers. The joyous vibe is immensely satisfying for Senior Sergeant Erica Gibson, the local police contingent and community elders who’d all backed the idea of this homegrown music festival.
“It gave the whole community something to focus on, and it gave the kids a heightened sense of community spirit because almost the entire population turned up and had a really good time,” says Erica, who became Wadeye’s first female officer-in-charge in March. “Wadeye is home to 22 different clan groups, which makes it a highly dynamic community. This concert was an excellent example of how we could bring them together.”
Erica leads a 13-member mixed gender police team whose beat includes outlying Nganmarriyanga (formerly Palumpa), Peppimenarti, Daly River and Pine Creek, as well as the nearly 2,000-strong Wadeye community.
Since joining the NT Police in September 1988, Erica has served in Darwin, Katherine, Alice Springs and Tennant Creek, remote Nhulunbuy in north-east Arnhem Land and Alyangula on Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Her roles have included working in the police domestic violence unit and as a police prosecutor, which she says enabled her to give mostly Indigenous victims of crime a voice in court. She’s widely regarded as an engaging, passionate advocate for building strong safe bush communities and championing domestic violence victims.
This story excerpt is from Issue #151
Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2023