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Policing the Plight of Indigenous Australians: Past Conflicts and Present Challenges

NCJ Number
Police & Society Issue: 7 Dated: April 2003 Pages: 77-104
Lorraine Mazerolle; Elena Marchetti; Andrew Lindsay
Date Published
April 2003
28 pages
This article examines the challenges facing the Australian police in their efforts to effectively police indigenous communities.
Although the challenges of policing multicultural societies are by no means unique to Australia, the challenges are somewhat different in Australia because of the many indigenous Australian communities. More than 70 percent of indigenous peoples reside in remote areas which generates logistical and cultural challenges for the police. Furthermore, the highly centralized nature of the Australia police serves to undermine the effective policing of indigenous communities. The article analyzes the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and show how this inquiry has shaped recent reform efforts within the Australian police force. Trends and policy initiatives that have occurred since the Royal Commission are explored. In particular, the article focuses on police initiatives to implement community policing practices, restorative justice processes, recruitment and training programs, diversion programs, and customary law initiatives. The authors assert that while many of the problems facing Aboriginal communities are outside of the purview of the police, the state of policing in Australia serves to exacerbate historical tensions between the police and indigenous communities. The authors suggest that the Australian police force revisit the recommendations made by the Royal Commission. Notes, references