There’s ‘box ticking’, and then there’s BOX TICKING!!!! See if you can guess what the West Australian police will be doing for the next two months.
It’s the event that stops a nation. Indeed it stops many nations… more than 200 of them. Just not Australia.
We’re talking about NAIDOC Week, obviously – the National Aboriginal and Islander Day of Observance Committee (which is, confusingly, precisely what NAIDOC stands for).
It’s basically a week-long festival of ‘all things blackfella’ and most mobs around the nation celebrate it in July. Increasingly though, governments and corporations have also begun to embrace the event, in particular schools.
But for some organisations, no amount of official NAIDOC Week enthusiasm can wash off the stench of institutionalised racism… introducing the West Australian Police.
This week, and for the next two months, more than 2,000 West Australian Police officers will wear a special ‘NAIDOC Week’ uniform, and police cars will be decorated in Aboriginal designs.
Or in the words of WA Police’s official entry on the NAIDOC events page: “See WA Police officers embody the spirit of reconciliation, as they do their job!”
And that job includes arresting Aboriginal people at the highest rate on the planet… literally.
Western Australia has, for more than a decade, had the highest Indigenous jailing rate on earth. Which means it has the highest Indigenous arrest rate on earth as well.
The state has a proud history of ‘doing their job’ when it comes to policing Aboriginal people. WA was the first state in Australia to introduce mandatory sentencing (by Labor, Dr Carmen Lawrence) in the early 90s.
And it’s current jailing rate of black males is more than eight times greater than it was under the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
In any event… happy NAIDOC.