Senior Constable Doug Anderson polices his corner of the outback with the help of his wife Donna, and a community that has won their hearts.

Story By Annabelle Brayley

As the first rays of sunlight splinter the sky over Yaraka, in far western Queensland, the morning silence is shattered by the shrieks of white cockatoos. A vehicle grumbles and UHF radios crackle as the first voices around town connect across the airwaves. By breakfast, all two-dozen residents know exactly what’s happening in the district. That’s the way they like it, and none more so than senior constable Doug Anderson, who firmly believes in the concept of community-based policing. “Nothing much happens around here, including policing, that isn’t widely discussed,” Doug says. “You can’t do this job without the input of the people you live with.”
Situated in the Longreach police district, Yaraka lies at the base of the north-western end of the Grey Ranges. Doug and his wife, Donna, transferred to Yaraka nearly three years ago. For them, it was a journey into paradise. They love it so much they have no plans to ever leave. While three years at Injune prepared them somewhat for life away from the coast, nothing prepared them for the remoteness of Yaraka. Doug says crime is rare and usually unintentional and the only time he has used his handcuffs was when he found one of grazier Harry Glasson’s rams out on the road. Doug handcuffed his legs, loaded him in the back of the four-wheel-drive and took him home.
Having spent 12 years in the Army, most of it overseas, Doug joined the Queensland Police Service nearly two decades ago. He worked on the Sunshine Coast then transferred to the Crimes Operations Unit, based in Brisbane. For four years, Doug was constantly on the move and working in other parts of the country. Even when he moved back to the Sunshine Coast and took on less stressful roles in traffic and general duties, Donna remembers their children waving to their father as they passed each other on the road. Like many police wives, Donna was always afraid for him.
Doug would have considered a remote posting years ago, but believes policing in the outback is a family commitment. “I would not have come out here when I was young,” Donna says. “I was a city/coast girl. I lived on the beach and five minutes from Myer.” Doug agrees that it wouldn’t have worked back then. “Your family, especially your partner, have to want to be a part of the community,” he says. “When it works, like this, it’s a great life.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #60

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2008