Recent developments have raised questions about the affiliation between David Harris, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the NSW Labor Party, and the NSW Police.
The concerns stem from the decision of the appointed Administrator at Red Chief Local Aboriginal Land (LALC) to allow police officers to attend Member Meetings.
And given the historical context and the trauma many Indigenous members have experienced due to police overuse of force and discrimination, many have viewed this decision as culturally inappropriate.
The presence of police officers at these meetings could potentially rekindle painful memories and create an atmosphere of distrust.
And in a recent communication, Tim Gumbleton FCA, Principal of Restructuring & Recovery for Regional NSW & Victoria at RSM Australia Pty Ltd, addressed the issue.
In his letter to Dean Foley, a member of the Red Chief LALC , Gumbleton stated that they have invited the police to attend the next meeting with the purpose of this is to provide the Aboriginal community with an update on the re-establishment of an effective Police Aboriginal Consultative Committee (PACC) and to share strategies to support the Gunnedah community.
So while Gumbleton’s intentions seem to be in the best interest of the LALC community, the decision to involve the police in these meetings remains contentious because underscores the delicate balance that needs to be struck between ensuring community safety and being sensitive to the historical and cultural nuances of the Aboriginal community.
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs – Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983
While the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 clearly outlines the procedures for meetings, it does not specifically address the presence or participation of external entities, such as the police, at these meetings.
However, the spirit of the Act is to ensure that Aboriginal communities have autonomy and control over their land and affairs.
But at this time, it is run by the NSW Labor Party David Harris’ appointed administrator/consultant, who is non-Indigenous and given the historical trauma many Aboriginal members have experienced due to police overuse of force and discrimination, the decision to invite the police to LALC meetings can be seen as potentially going against the ethos of the Act.
And the presence of police officers could be perceived as an intrusion into the autonomy of the Aboriginal community and a potential breach of these meetings’ cultural and procedural sanctity.
While the intention behind inviting the police might be to provide updates and foster community relations, it’s essential to weigh these benefits against the potential harm and discomfort it might cause to the Aboriginal community members.
And the Act emphasises the importance of community decision-making, and as such, any decision to involve external entities should be made with the utmost care and consideration for the community’s feelings and historical context.
In conclusion, while the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 does not explicitly prohibit the presence of external entities like the police at LALC meetings, the decision to include them should be made with sensitivity to the Act’s intent and the historical and cultural context of the Aboriginal community.
Which doesn’t seem to be taken into consideration by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, David Harris, and his non-Indigenous consultants.