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Aboriginal police relations - Change must happen

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T he H on R o b ert T ic k n e r MP Minister fo r Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs

S e n a to r t h e H on M ich ael T ate Minister fo r Justice and Consumer Affairs



The Commonwealth will play an important role in working with the States and Territories to promote improved Aboriginal/Police relations, the Federal Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Robert Tickner, and the Federal Minister for Justice and Consumer Affairs, Michael Tate, announced today.

The Ministers said, "The Commonwealth will give active support to State and Territory Governments in further initiatives to give effect to key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody directed to this objective.

"Funding will be provided for an annual conference of Commonwealth, State and Territory Police Services to address a range of issues raised by the Royal Commission including employment of Aboriginal people in police forces, cross-

cultural awareness and best practices in police training and community policing," the Ministers said.

Mr Tickner announced that he would also make $5 million available to the States and Territories to develop or strengthen Aboriginal employment strategies in Police Services, Corrective Services, Juvenile Detention Services, non-custodial sentencing areas and court systems and to assist implementing the

recommendations of the Royal Commission directed to improving Aboriginal/Police relations.

Mr Tickner said that improved relations between the Aboriginal community and the Police was critical in tackling the massive over-re presentation of Aboriginal people in custody which was 29 times above that of non-Aboriginal Australians.

Mr Tickner said that there was now an agreed national agenda for reform and improvement in Aboriginal/Police relations following the unanimous support of State and Territory Governments for the Royal Commission recommendations in this area. .

Senator Tate said that the Australian Federal Police will take a lead in changing its procedures and practices to respond to the recommendations of the Royal Commission. .../

Parliament House, Canberra A C T 2600


Consistent with the Royal Commission's Report, all State and Territory Governments have agreed:

• to an active policy of recruiting Aboriginal people, particularly women, into the Police Services; .

• to a review of police training courses to ensure that a substantial component of training both for recruits and as in-service training relates to the education about Aboriginal Australia;

• that Police Services actively exchange information about effective measures to improve Aboriginal/police relations; and

• that consultation and negotiation occur between Aboriginal communities and police on problem issues.

The Ministers stressed that the Royal Commission was not an exercise in police bashing but had promoted sensible and practical reforms supported by all Governments and by Aboriginal people.

The Ministers rejected the proposition that racism was more prevalent in Police Services than in the wider community.

"However police are often in the front line of relations with Aboriginal people and for this reason governments have a special responsibility to improve those relations.

"We believe there is sufficient goodwill on both sides and a commitment at senior levels of the Police Services to bring about the necessary change," they said.

31 March 1992

Further information:

Mr Tickneris Office Senator Tate's Office Robert Tickner (06) 277-7620 Adrian Wild (06) 277-7260