SHOALHAVEN police and the local Aboriginal community have staged a series of information sessions about the NSW Police Force’s Aboriginal Strategic Direction (ASD) 2012–2017.
Staff from the Aboriginal Co-ordination Unit held the information sessions at locations throughout the Shoalhaven over the last week, with five meetings in the local area.
The information sessions featured a presentation on the ASD, its purpose and how police will work in partnerships with the Aboriginal community to identify local solutions for local problems.
Aboriginal issues officer Inspector Steve Johnson and Aboriginal community liaison officer Ben Wellington were on hand to speak about local issues.
The final meeting, at the Nowra Police Station on Friday, was attended by representatives of various Nowra-based service providers.
State project and information officer Constable Damien John and the Aboriginal community liaison co-ordinator for NSW Police Brad Webb also attended the meeting.
Inspector Johnson said the aim of the ASD was to allow police to work in co-operative partnerships with the Aboriginal community to identify local solutions to local problems.
“We are making progress on this front in the Shoalhaven Local Area Command but the ASD will continue that work,” he said.
“The ASD enables us to work together with Aboriginal people to reduce violence, crime and fear.”
Aboriginal community liaison officer Ben Wellington said a number of programs have been planned locally to help “break down the barriers”.
“Meetings are held quarterly throughout the community by PACC, the Police Aboriginal Consultative Committee, and these local information sessions have certainly been a good start,” he said.
“The response and reaction across the region has been positive.”
The ASD has identified a number of priorities including ensuring community safety; improving communication and understanding between police and Aboriginal people; reducing involvement and improved safety of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system and reducing community harm through things like underage drinking, alcohol and substance abuse and mental health issues.