ST MARYS and Penrith police observed NAIDOC week with a special Aboriginal flag-raising ceremony at Penrith police station on Monday.
The National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee week is an annual event, celebrating indigenous culture and campaigning for greater awareness of indigenous issues.
St Marys police commander Greg Peters was guest speaker at the flag-raising.
‘‘It’s an honour for me to address this gathering,’’ Superintendent Peters said.
‘‘Also for my wife, who has a proud history as a member of the Wiradjuri people.’’
He spoke frankly about past relations between police and Aboriginal people.
‘‘Our history documents how Aborigines were mistreated and governments used police as agents to remove them from their families,’’ Superintendent Peters said.
‘‘This has created a historical mistrust between Aboriginal people and the police force.’’
He said this was difficult to change, but initiatives such as the combined Penrith-St Marys commands’ Aboriginal Consultative Committee were building bridges.
He also cited the NSW Police’s Aboriginal recruitment program, IPROWD.
The Deerubbin Land Council chief executive, Kevin Cavanagh, told the gathering the consultative committee was one of the greatest achievements in police-Aboriginal relations.
‘‘It enables Aborigines and police to meet and talk about sensitive issues in a positive way,’’ Mr Cavanagh said.
‘‘Because of the history between police and Aboriginal people, healing takes time, but anything which strengthens awareness between them is worthwhile.’’
Penrith police’s Aboriginal issues officer, Inspector Harry Goedings, said the sentiments expressed that day reinforced what had taken years to achieve.
Inspector Goedings, who retires from the force later this year, said it had been a good day for him.
‘‘I will leave the force, happy I’ve had this responsibility and been able to act in the interests of the Aboriginal community,’’ he said.