Two new advisory initiatives are the latest attempt by WA police to improve its relationship with the Aboriginal community.
The move follows WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson's July apology for the "devastating" mistreatment and discrimination of Indigenous people by police.
The new Aboriginal Affairs Division (AAD) has been created to monitor the effectiveness of internal policies and help officers better engage with Aboriginal communities.
“Establishing the AAD builds upon our apology to Indigenous people earlier this year and enables my strategic intent, to reduce Aboriginal offending and victimisation in Western Australia,” Mr Dawson said in a statement.
Half of the team of 10 identify as Aboriginal, including team leader Superintendent Mark Ninyett.
“The role of the division is to provide system-level advocacy and engagement across police activities affecting Aboriginal peoples so we understand and respond better to their views, needs and interests,” he told NITV News.
There is also a new an eight-person Aboriginal Police Advisory Forum set up to make recommendations on key issues including the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system.
“Division is a daily function,” Mr Ninyett explained.
“[The] forum will meet quarterly and actions will be tasked by the group.”
Maureen Kelly is a Yindjibarndi and Ngarluma Elder from Port Hedland in the Pilbara and is one of the members of the advisory forum.
She told NITV News that she’s hopeful for the advisory group can make a difference, but if not then she's out.
“If I don’t see that there’s a change, I’m more than willing to leave. I’ll give them a year and if I don’t see changes I’ll resign,” she said.
“Too many times I see these advisory groups being set up as a tokenism but I firmly believe that this new Commissioner Dawson has good intentions.
“I thought well, at least they’re trying to take steps in the right direction by forming a partnership and hopefully they will listen to the advice that’s being given,” she said.
Mrs Kelly is the sole representative from the Pilbara region on the committee.
“I have already stated that it’s alright for the general at the top to implement a policy but it has to go to the foot soldiers out in the regions,” she said.