On the blog: Connecting to our Indigenous community

Tracey Hull, ACT Policing Aboriginal Liaison Officer

Tracey Hull joined the AFP in August 2017 as a trainee on the Directions Program; a full-time employment and development program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. On acceptance into the Program she worked within Finance as a member of the National Assets Team.

Prior to the AFP, Tracey worked in business management and finance roles. She then studied Education Support and worked in schools assisting young people with learning or physical disabilities.

Tracey moved across to ACT Policing in February 2019, to the Community Safety, Education and Diversion Team as one of their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Liaison Officers (ALO).  

This month, ACT Policing took part in the National Multicultural Festival where our theme was connecting people. We asked Tracey to tell us how she connects ACT Policing with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

 

I am a proud Wiradjuri woman. I love getting out into the community and assisting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages.

As an ALO, I act as a conduit for the community and can report issues or concerns back to ACT Policing management for resolution. Our team assists to develop crime prevention strategies like supporting and encouraging positive role models to enhance police and Indigenous youth relationships.

I believe that having a deep understanding of cultural sensitivities that exist in Indigenous communities has helped me serve my clients the best way I can. Our team want the people we interact with to be as comfortable as possible, so we address issues in a way that’s familiar to them. For instance, I help women and children with women’s business; directing them to services that are tailored to their specific needs. In my team we also have male ALO’s (Brian Waddell and Robert Wright) who can assist with men’s business.

An important part of the ALO role is working with teams from various internal and external agencies to avoid or reduce future interaction of our clients with the justice system; helping both victims and perpetrators of crime.

Some of the support agencies and stakeholders we work with include Aboriginal Legal Service, the Human Rights Commission, Department of Education and ACT Public Service, ACT Community Centres and Communities at Work.  We also refer people to Winnunga Aboriginal Health and Community Services, Gugan Gulwan youth centre, Employment services and pathways such as Murumal recruitment and Yurauna Centre at the Canberra Institute of Technology and have a close working relationship with ACT Together, Reconciliation Australia and Child and Youth Protection Services.

Another element of the ALO role is playing an active part in the ACT’s specialist courts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We attend Galambany Circle Sentencing Court for Pre-Sentencing Hearings. Galambany means “we all, including you” in Ngunnawal language. The hearings provide eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults with a culturally relevant sentencing option.  

We also participate in the new Children’s Warrumbul Circle Sentencing Court. Warrumbul is a Ngunnawal word meaning “youth”. We help identify culturally appropriate programs for the young person as Magistrates often request that they develop relationships with the groups of people involved in their pathway.

One of the highlights of my role is attending community events such as the Great Book Swap as part of Indigenous Literacy Week, AIME mentoring events, the Boomanulla oval opening, Gugan Gulwan’s Football Day; where the kids play against ACT Policing officers, and of course events during NAIDOC and Reconciliation weeks. We often get lots of questions about how to become part of the AFP, either as a police officer or professional staff member.

As well as being active in the community, we also play a role in educating our ACT Policing community. We conduct Cultural Connection Training days with our officers which cover the role of ALO’s within ACT Policing and the community; how to address Elders and the significance of their role; use of respectful body language and Indigenous terminology; significant dates and awareness of trauma backgrounds. Similarly, we also improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community knowledge about policing services, the law and safety issues.

Some of things I find challenging in this role include working with people who aren’t comfortable accepting help. There are such caring support agencies out there, and I’ve seen great results for many of my clients. Also as a fair skinned person I have occasionally experienced some community members being hesitant to engage, however after meeting with them and sharing our stories I have made many connections and new relationships within both Canberra and interstate communities.

Working in this community based role has been the most rewarding experience of my working life. It has also allowed me to continue to use the skills I developed from my education support background. I see the future of our ALO roles as a continuing journey of listening and learning from our community while giving them support from and a voice within ACT Policing and the broader AFP.

If you would like to speak to an ALO, you can contact the team at Belconnen Police Station on 51269103, or via email at ACT-CRED@afp.gov.au.