Talking with Police and Lawyers
Earlier this year the Martu Leadership Program participants hosted over 100 people on country to talk with a number of law agencies including local and Perth based police, the Pilbara magistrate, lawyers from the Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) and senior staff from the Roebourne Regional Prison.
Since this meeting there has been a strong partnership developing between the magistrate, police, lawyers and Martu. The Martu leadership team were invited to present to approximately 100 people at the ALS staff conference. At this meeting, the Martu leadership team told ALS about the things they want to change in the whitefella law system and how they are going about it.
They presented a new model for licensing where people can have a chance to get their licence back. They talked about a new approach for diverting people away from lock-up and back onto country. They explained about problems with understanding restraining orders and offered some practical examples of what could be done to help Martu understand and therefore better meet the requirements of restraining orders.
Alice Barter, one of the lawyers from the ALS said “having met with the Martu leaders earlier this year, it was impressive to see how far they had progressed their ideas. These men and women know what they want and are really stepping up to tell their story. We should all listen to their message.”
That same day the team headed for the WA Police Headquarters in Perth to share a similar message with a group of senior police including the Commissioner of Police, Chris Dawson.
Robert Skesteris, Executive Manager of the Aboriginal & Community Unit in WA Police, has now had several meetings with the Martu leadership group. In his view, this meeting was an indication that the Martu team have the ear of senior police. “Everybody is listening carefully to what Martu have to say. I think they will get a lot of support for some of the things they are wanting to do. They are on the road to making some big changes for their people.”
The officer in charge of Newman police, Mark Fleskens, flew down to support the team at the presentation - yet another example of the respect that is developing between police and Martu.