WA Police Commissioner says sorry to Aboriginal people for mistreatment

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson makes the apology. Photo: Julian Wright
WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson makes the apology. Photo: Julian Wright

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson has said sorry to the State’s indigenous people for the force’s part in “past wrongful actions”.

The Commissioner made the speech outside Police Headquarters this afternoon.

The speech coincided with Naidoc Week, July 8-15, and was preceded by a traditional indigenous dance performance and smoking ceremony.

It was also revealed the Aborginal flag would fly permanently outside Police Headquarters.

“Some of the comments I’ll be making shortly are confronting and may make some people feel uncomfortable, but I understand that truth-telling is an important part of enabling and facilitating change,” Commissioner Dawson said.

“And so, today, on behalf of the Western Australia Police Force, I would like to say sorry to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for our participation in past wrongful actions that have caused immeasurable pain and suffering.

“As the legislated protectors of Aboriginal people, police played an important and significant role in contributing to a traumatic history, which continues to reverberate today.”

Commissioner Dawson highlighted the “grave impacts” the forcible removal of Aboriginal children from their families had on indigenous people and their culture.

“We cannot change the past but we can learn from it,” he said.

“We can make amends and ensure mistakes are not repeated.

“From this day forward, and in my time as Commissioner, I will take steps to heal historical wounds between police and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“I accept our tumultuous history, acknowledge the devastating impact of our actions and take ownership of being part of the problem.”

For a full transcript of the Commissioner’s speech, visit the WA Police website.