Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia Limited

ALSWA appalled at Police Union’s Racially Offensive Tirate

MEDIA STATEMENT BY THE ABORIGINAL LEGAL SERVICE OF WA,9February 2010

MEDIA STATEMENT BY THE ABORIGINAL LEGAL SERVICE OF WA,9February 2010

JohnBedford_ALSWAALSWA Appalled at Police Union’s Racially Offensive Tirade

The Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia (ALSWA) is appalled at the racially offensive comments unleashed by the WA Police Union President Russell Armstrong.

“This is a disgraceful outburst against Aboriginal people and Mr. Armstrong’s comments are a slap in the face to those who have worked so tirelessly on both sides to build stronger Aboriginal / police relations over many years” said John Bedford, ALSWA Executive Officer and Acting CEO.

ALSWA says that the ethnocentric and discriminatory comments indicate a clear lack of understanding about Aboriginal people and culture and that Cultural training should be provided to the union’s Executive and members.

“The racial overtones displays a real ‘us’ and ‘them’ viewpoint that leaves me lost for words. I am dismayed at the apparent lack of understanding by the union’s own president, about the causal factors and complex issues which leads to the over-representation of Aboriginal people within the criminal justice system” said Mr. Bedford.

ALSWA says that despite being over-policed and over-represented within the prison system, Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members and agencies continue to work tirelessly to address the inequalities faced by our people.

“The negative stereotyping by Mr. Armstrong following an incident in Carnarvon diminishes the wonderful and tireless efforts of many of our people and has a devastating effect upon our well-being and our relationship with the wider community” said Mr. Bedford.

Whilst ALSWA appreciates the role of a Union in protecting the rights, interests and welfare of its members, it can’t help but wonder how valued the union’s Aboriginal members feel today, upon hearing the opinions of their own WA Police Union President.

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