Dear Mr Fox,
While doing some research on police and cultural sensitivities I came across your name and occupation.
I read a transcript on ‘Policing Diversity In Queensland’ in which your colleague Emmanuel Anthony said:
“You can have the best policies and programs in the world but unless you are astute enough to develop an atmosphere of trust it doesn’t work.”
“If we’re a smart State and a smart Police Service, we’ve got to be able to firstly establish confidence and trust.”
“Sometimes I go home and I say — What the hell have I done today? What have I really done? And the bottom line is I’ve influenced some people to trust.”
The transcript also said that you agreed that trust is really flourishing not just from police but also from communities.
You said “When I first joined this job, our Australian troops haven’t been long out of Vietnam and there were still lots of negative feeling about Vietnamese issues – not until the late 70s when we had so many Vietnamese people come into our communities and we had to change our focus.”
Like you, in 1979, I spent time with Vietnamese refugees at Wacol migrant camp (which included boat people). However, I was 3 years old and I was simply tagging along occasionally with my mother in semi-day care mode because she taught English there.
I found your comments to be very interesting and somewhat inspiring. In a few weeks I will be attending a convergence at Baxter Detention Centre in South Australia to protest against the unlawful detention of asylum seekers. As a Queenslander, one of the reasons I am protesting is because the majority of people who are detained eventually end up being accepted and become part of the Brisbane community in which I live.
The trauma that these already traumatised people suffer is worrysome for me. They are receiving punishment when they should, instead, be receiving our help. After being punished they are expected to settle in and be part of our community. Being part of a community involves trusting the police.
In my day-to-day life I carry with me a tremendous amount of respect for police and the work they carry out – and I trust them to be there for me should I need it. However, I fear that this new wave of refugees, due to
their mistreatment while in detention by security guards who believe they are upholding the law, will not carry with them this same kind of trust.
I fear that this new wave of refugees that are detained and suffer for long periods of time will leave these centres with a respect for police that stems from fear rather than the trust you talk about.
I was wondering how you’re planning to influence this new wave of refugees to trust police? These detention centres only opened in the mid 1990s. Before that, as you know from first-hand experience, police were dealing with refugees (including boat people) who were housed in unfenced, unguarded, reception centres such as Wacol Migrant Camp.
It is my dream that 3-year old Australian childen, like myself, are one day again allowed to visit our country’s new arrivals. My earliest childhood memory is receiving warmth from my mother’s students. Today’s asylum seekers learn nothing of this country’s beautiful lifestyle. They live devoid of hope for a better future that I believe my visits brought them.
Thank you so much for your time and I hope you can spare a moment to reply.