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Dean

Dean Saddler

Year of Award: 2014 Award State: New South Wales Business > Indigenous
Emergency Services > Police
To develop an Indigenous employment and retention strategy that can be utilised across all Australian law enforcement agencies - USA, Canada
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Australia faces significant challenges arising from the over representation of Indigenous persons in the corrective service system. Aboriginal Australians are twice as likely to be incarcerated as non-Indigenous Australians and, once imprisoned, Indigenous Australians are four times more likely to be re-incarcerated. Similar statistics also exist within Australia’s juvenile detention systems. Historically, Australia’s law enforcement agencies have struggled with not only recruiting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to the front line or in first responder roles, but also in retaining these people once they are employed.

My research has clearly demonstrated that increasing front line Indigenous Policing is more than increasing diversity. My international counterparts’ experience provides a practical illustration that increasing the number of Indigenous officers produces better outcomes for the justice system. In some instances targeted recruitment to increase Indigenous officers has resulted in a reduction in the incarceration and subsequently re-incarceration rate of the Indigenous population. Such a reduction in incarceration rates has a financial flow on for state and federal governments, law enforcement agencies and the justice system but the local community is the most significant social and economic beneficiary.

I have studied each Australian States’ law enforcement recruiting methods. Each employs a variety of approaches including community liaison officers (ACLO / ICLO), university administered Associate Degree in Policing Practice, Technical and Further Education (TAFE) pre-recruitment training courses, traineeships or cadetships - all of which provide a service to law enforcement agencies and a point of reference for Indigenous recruitment in the Australian context. Throughout my studies I have found that when Indigenous consumers interact with law enforcement officers, the best outcomes for Indigenous consumers occur when the front line / first responding officer is a sworn officer who is also a declared Aboriginal or Torres Strait Police Officer. I have had the opportunity to speak with the unsworn members who informed me that not having sworn Police Officer status has created a ‘not good enough’ attitude within the community and even their own agency because  they are not regarded as ‘real’ Police Officers.

My research throughout the USA and Canada provided numerous examples where successful models are employed. These models demonstrate what can be achieved when a cooperative, multi-jurisdictional approach is taken towards Indigenous front line policing. When police forces take affirmative action to provide genuine Indigenous employment opportunities as well as respected leaders who act as positive role models within communities we see a substantial increase in community engagement which consequently provides unlimited potential to reduce Indigenous crime and incarceration.

I believe Australian law enforcement agencies would benefit from a similar coordinated approach toward Indigenous recruitment, education and training that would assist in creating sustainable front line policies and programs and reduce the overall cost required to develop and administer specialised Indigenous programs. My research has shown greater attention to improving cultural diversity within our police forces supported by appropriate training and awareness across the whole organisation is essential to developing the people and skills required to promote better policing practice. Such programs have a high degree of utility and can be modified to encourage and support other underrepresented demographics such as women, other ethnic groups or gay and lesbian members. They key is to encourage a degree of flexibility within the program on the basis that one size does not fit all.

I have had the opportunity to view policing policies, programs and procedures as implemented and practiced by United States police in Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois; Nashville, Texas; Washington DC, Virginia; New York City, New York and in with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Calgary, Alberta; and Ottawa, Ontario. Due to the sensitive nature of police methodology much of the material obtained during my research is subject to security classifications and cannot be disclosed in this report.

Recommendations arising from this report will be presented to the Federal and State Governments through the relevant Police Minister, the Australian Federal Police and the Department of Defence.

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