The Daily Advertiser: Wiradjuri man Joe Williams praises Aboriginal flag to be flown at Wagga Police Station

WAGGA police have been praised for their efforts in helping bridge the gap between the NSW justice system and the Aboriginal community.

With ongoing calls to permanently fly the Aboriginal flag outside more regional police stations, Riverina Police District Detective Chief Inspector Winston Woodward said Wagga was next in line.

“At the moment, the Australian, Aboriginal and NSW flags have all been ordered for the station, we have just been waiting for those to get made,” he said.

“This has been in the pipeline for about six to eight months, and we have consulted with the local Aboriginal elders and community so will be thrilled to see them arrive.”

Detective Chief Inspector Woodward said the flag was the next step towards a united community.

“This is another way of building those relationships and opening lines of communication between police and the Aboriginal community here in Wagga,” he said.

Currently, the Aboriginal flag is flown permanently at 15 police stations in NSW, including Armidale, Albury, Batemans Bay, Broken Hill, Condobolin, Deniliquin, Dubbo, Gosford, Griffith, Gunnedah, Moree, Nowra, Oak Flats, Tweed Heads and Wilcannia.

Wiradjuri man Joe Williams said he was glad to hear Wagga was joining the list, but that the community had always been “on the front foot” with issues between Aboriginal people and the justice system.

“Historically, there have definitely been challenges between the police force and Aboriginal people, but Wagga has always been fairly supportive of me and anything I’ve tried to get across to the community,” he said.

Mr Williams made reference to last year’s Black Lives Matter rally, and said Wagga Police gave him their full support.

“Superintendent Bob Noble was particularly supportive of that, there were all sorts of challenges around COVID-19 and he said ‘Listen Joe, we are here to support you, let us know how we can help and we will do the best we can’,” he said.

“So while that rally was a reflection of a bigger conversation, the relationships in Wagga have been okay from my perspective.”

The new flag set to be flown outside Wagga Police Station was just another step forward for the “progressive” community, according to Mr Williams.

“I don’t speak for everyone obviously, but on my end, if there are issues or tensions raised within the community, our police are usually pretty forward in reaching out to facilitate conversations,” he said.

“In the end, flying this flag is just another way of promoting that bigger conversation in other communities around the state, and Wagga has always been a leader of that conversation.”

A date is yet to be set for the flag to be flown, but Detective Chief Inspector Woodward said it would be in the near future as soon as the order arrives.

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