Mandurah Police station includes Indigenous name on sign

TOGETHER: The dual naming is important for the community, says Mr Lawrence. Photo: Samantha Ferguson.

TOGETHER: The dual naming is important for the community, says Mr Lawrence. Photo: Samantha Ferguson.

"To see the sign, for us as Aboriginal people - we see that and we see the bridging of relationships and coming together," says Barry Lawrence.

The Indigenous community leader and youth worker in the Binjareb region sat down to talk to the Mail about the 'healing country' theme for NAIDOC.

Mr Lawrence explained that the dual-naming around the City had been a step forward for the community, including the new sign at the Mandurah Police Station.

"I just wanted to capture what our theme is for NAIDOC across the national setting around healing country," he said.

"The base stuff around healing country is also about healing our people.

"The City of Mandurah is doing a lot of dual naming in our region, and with the WA police in the area going forward with this is, for me, a greatly appreciated position to be in and we see that as a healing process for our aboriginal community."

COMMUNITY: Barry Lawrence has worked with youth for many years. Photo: File Image.

COMMUNITY: Barry Lawrence has worked with youth for many years. Photo: File Image.

Mr Lawrence said that Mandurah Police's OIC Sergeant Neville Beard had played a pivotal role in this work.

"Our relationship with Neville Beard and what he has done in this space has been enormous for our community and bridging the gap.

"Neville consulted with the Aboriginal community - he wanted to change how the perceptions are around the aboriginal community and the police and wanted to break down stereotypes...

During a youth camp Mr Lawrence ran, Sergeant Beard came down with some of his officers to spend time with the children.

"At the start of the camp there was a hesitance about 'do we talk to them or do we not?'" Mr Lawrence said.

"By the end of the camp they were calling him 'Pop Neville'"

...We see that and we see the bridging of relationships and coming together.

Barry Lawrence

Mr Lawrence has called Mandurah home and worked within the community for 12 years.

"We've had some great OICs come through, but Neville has just taken it to the next level.

"He can go down to an elders group, sit around with them and speak to them about certain issues and he can always walk away knowing that they have his back...

"To be able to go to the shop and have police recognise you and have a positive general conversation and not having to worry about 'am I being profiled here?' is important."

The dual naming around the City is also something Mr Lawrence hopes will bring the entire community together.

"For our non aboriginal community to be part of something that belongs to us as one nation - we should all be proud of the culture that lives here with us as aboriginal people."

Sergeant Beard said he treasured his working relationship with Mr Lawrence.

"It's really important for us to get involved in the community," Sergeant Beard said.

"We're community leaders. It's important for us to show that we are there and that people can feel comfortable to come to us."