Flag raised outside Port Stephens Hunter Police District stations to strengthen bond between police and Aboriginal communities

UNITED: Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys, Maurice Perry, Dean French, Acting Supt Kylie Phillips, Acting Assistant Commissioner Northern Region Chad Gillies at Raymond Terrace Police Station on Tuesday. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts
UNITED: Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys, Maurice Perry, Dean French, Acting Supt Kylie Phillips, Acting Assistant Commissioner Northern Region Chad Gillies at Raymond Terrace Police Station on Tuesday. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Three stations within the Port Stephens Hunter Police District have become some of the first in the state to begin flying the Aboriginal flag as part of a move to further strengthen police ties with First Nations people.

During a visit to the district on Tuesday, NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said flying the Aboriginal flag at stations was a "simple but significant" step in bringing police and Indigenous communities closer together and acknowledging further work needs to be done to achieve "better outcomes".

"We cannot ever forget that the relationship between police and Aboriginal communities needs to be strong, that we need to work together for better outcomes," Deputy Commissioner Worboys said during a flag raising and smoking ceremony at Raymond Terrace Police Station.

"In many ways this is a symbol of the future. We've done lots of good things over a long time but here we stand today to say we can do better. Together we can achieve better outcomes for Aboriginal people, we can get better outcomes for the community, better outcomes for police."

An initiative of the deputy commissioner, Aboriginal flags are slowly being rolled out to 24-hour stations in regional areas that are home to significant Indigenous communities such as those in Port Stephens Hunter Police District.

There are close to 70,000 Indigenous residents living in Port Stephens and more than 78,000 in Maitland - just two of the larger LGAs within the district.

Worimi man Maurice Perry, from Karuah, conducted the smoking ceremony and played the didgeridoo as the Aboriginal, Australian and NSW flags were raised at Raymond Terrace on Tuesday.

"I felt emotional and stronghearted to share my culture here today," Mr Perry said. "I think this is a good step forward."

Dean French, Port Stephens Hunter Police District's Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer, agreed with Mr Perry.

"I think it's really important that the community sees the Aboriginal flag flying over stations," Mr French said.

"It's helping to further break down barriers between Aboriginal community and police. I think it is an important step in showing that police are working to break down those barriers.

"Here at Raymond Terrace with the flags right out the front, the community can see those efforts being made."

Aboriginal flags were also raised at the Maitland and Nelson Bay stations on Tuesday which the deputy commissioner toured alongside Acting Assistant Commissioner Northern Region Chad Gillies and Port Stephens Hunter Acting Superintendent Kylie Phillips.

"It's really important to me that our police are in touch with our Aboriginal communities. This is a small way to show that we're working with those communities," Acting Commissioner Gillies said.

The deputy commissioner said he would like to see each NSW station fly the Aboriginal flag.

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