24 May 2022

Mariaha sets sights on building trust between First Nations people, police

| James Coleman
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TAFE NSW student Mariaha Suey: one of the first graduates from Queanbeyan’s new Indigenous policing program. Photo: TAFE NSW.

Mariaha Suey is on a mission. The young Indigenous woman grew up in a small town in the Hunter Valley where she noticed a fractured relationship between her people and the police force.

She has now set her sights on helping to heal the ties after becoming one of the first graduates of a new Indigenous police training program at Queanbeyan TAFE.

“My main motivation behind wanting to join the police force is my desire to help mend the relationship between First Nations people and the police force,” Mariaha says.

“I feel there should be more First Nations people working in the police force to help strengthen this relationship from the inside outwards to the community. If there were more of my mob working in the police force, I feel my people would be more willing to trust the police.”

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Indigenous Police Recruitment Our Way Delivery (IPROWD) was rolled out in Queanbeyan in September 2021 as part of a wider delivery to specific TAFE NSW campuses across regional and metropolitan areas.

Jointly developed by the NSW Police Force and TAFE NSW, the program is designed to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people gain a qualification and develop the skills and confidence to succeed in a policing career.

Since 2008, more than 700 Aboriginal students have enrolled. Many have gone on to gain employment with NSW Police as sworn and unsworn officers, or work in other government agencies.

Mariaha says she has taken on various valuable skills during the program.

“IPROWD has given me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone. It has also empowered me to continue to make a difference in my community.”

Graduates from Queanbeyan TAFE's Indigenous Police Recruitment Our Way Delivery program.

Graduates from Queanbeyan TAFE’s Indigenous Police Recruitment Our Way Delivery (IPROWD) program. Photo: TAFE NSW.

As police interactions with people of colour continue to attract worldwide attention, Mariaha says there is “absolutely” a need for Indigenous policing programs.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the most disadvantaged people in their own country,” she says.

“There needs to be a larger representation of Indigenous people in the police force. We cannot expect to be able to ‘close the gap’ if there are not programs such as IPROWD to help Indigenous people find employment in the police force and other job opportunities.”

The IPROWD course not only opens opportunities for employment in the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and NSW Police forces, but in other emergency services and public service areas.

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Mariaha says it’s even valuable for those unsure about a policing career.

“It’s worth completing as you learn a lot about yourself and get to meet a lot of interesting people and gain valuable skills that can be applied to many jobs.”

Mariaha now plans to apply and enter the ACT Policing branch of the AFP recruitment program.

“The IPROWD course is a good pathways program that opens a lot of opportunities,” she says. “But I believe there should be a police force entry-level employment program specifically targeted for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nationwide.”

People of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent can apply for the IPROWD program on the NSW TAFE website. Proof may be requested.

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Trevor Willis7:41 am 31 May 22

Why should they get different requirements for entry into the police force than white people? What are the requirements needed to be accepted as an aboriginal, it seems that many “people of colour” appear very white. If they have any white direct relatives then they are more white than black and should be treated the same as the 97% of the population. It seems an industry is being created to get as many white/blacks being given preferred treastment than the rest of us.
As a white elder, I am getting sick and tired of the continual diatribe on our past history and would encourage people to accept that we should all be treated equally.

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