First Nations Advisory Group to the QPS

First Nations Advisory Group to the QPS

We the First Nations Advisory Group (FNAG) to the Queensland Police Service (QPS) in good faith make this public statement to inform our communities that we have been advised by the QPS that we cease to exist as of 29th February 2024. We actively sort to collaboratively make this announcement however have been met with silence as outlined here:

We the First Nations Advisory Group (FNAG) to the Queensland Police Service (QPS) in good faith make this public statement to inform our communities that we have been advised by the QPS that we cease to exist as of 29th February 2024. We actively sort to collaboratively make this announcement however have been met with silence as outlined below.

The actions of the QPS and this decision is contrary to the approved Terms of Reference (TOR) and the recommendations, particularly 45 of the Commission of Inquiry into Police Responses to Domestic & Family Violence (COI).

Following the COI in 2022 we commenced meeting with Commissioner Carrol on 1 November 2022. In March of 2023, we completed a co-designed TOR, that made provisions for the operation of the FNAG and QPS; including the recognition of our right to self-determination and the cultural obligations we have to engage with and keep our communities informed of the work of the FNAG. These terms of reference were approved & endorsed by the Commissioner, and after extensive consultation with the QPS lawyers.

In November and December 2023, we in partnership with supporters and allies publicly condemned the racialised comments of the QPU President made in the Courier Mail, 25 October 2023 and called on the leadership of QPS to take action. On 21 November 2023 we formally met with Commissioner Carrol to raise our concerns with regards to the comments and the fall out for the QPS as a result of these comments made by the QPU President. We were particularly concerned for the wellbeing and interests of our communities, the First Nations staff who work for the QPS and the damaging impact these comments had upon those officers who do not share these views. During this meeting, the Commissioner

agreed to prioritise the work of the COI and undertake a racism audit of the QPS. At this meeting we also discussed the approximate 30 action items outstanding.

On 16 January 2024, after 15 months of operation, we were given contracts to sign containing a confidentiality clause which would prevent us speaking publicly about the work of the FNAG or the QPS unless approved by the QPS. This clause and others within the contract were both contrary to the approved Terms of Reference and the whole of government procedures for advisory boards ‘Remuneration procedures for Queensland bodies’. 

On January 30th we met with the newly appointed First Nations Executive Director, Alan Dewis and raised our concerns about the performance of the First Nations Division, including the 30 outstanding action items and meeting records which do not reflect the meetings held, the failure to progress the critical recommendations of the COI, the contracts and the ongoing concern that our work is not being valued by the QPS. This position and a division we advocated strongly for and of which we held great hope and high expectations.

On January 30/31 2024, some of our members received a lump sum payment. Some of our members and former members have not yet been paid. Until this payment was received, we had not received any form of payment for the entire duration of our tenure. We immediately sort to understand the purpose of this payment as it did not align with the sitting fees owed to us under the terms of reference or the ‘Remuneration procedures for Queensland bodies’. We remain unclear despite numerous emails seeking clarification as to what this money is actually for.

20th February 2024 we wrote to the Executive Director First Nations Unit, the Commissioner of Police and the Minister for Police outlining our concerns with the contract and requesting a meeting to resolve these issues. The Executive Director First Nations Unit, the Commissioner of Police and the Minister for Police chose not to meet with us to address these concerns.

We maintain that we are obliged to act with open transparency about the workings of the First Nations Advisory Group and we are obliged to advocate in the interests of justice for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This intention and objective of the First Nations Advisory Group was clearly outlined in our agreed and approved Terms of Reference (attached).

On the 29th February 2024 we received an email advising that we would no longer be operating as a First Nations Advisory Group.

On the 5th March 2024 we wrote to the Executive Director, First Nations Division asking for a meeting to better understand the decision and to seek a collaborative way of informing community of this decision. Our request to meet was ignored.

On the 15th March 2024 we wrote to the Premier Steven Miles and the Independent Implementation Supervisor to seek a meeting to raise our concerns and seek a collaborative way forward. This request is awaiting a response. Our concerns remain unaddressed.

The actions of the QPS have left us with little faith in the newly established First Nations Division to be effective or of the senior leadership within the QPS to work in genuine partnership with a First Nations Advisory Group or our First Nations communities. We are concerned that the QPS will now actively seek to recruit a token advisory group who will be bound to an approved narrative handed to them and who will not be informed of the true work undertaken by the FNAG to date.

Until drastic action is taken to address the culture that exists within the QPS, we hold great concern that any action taken by QPS will be tokenistic, performative and for the purposes of optics to mislead our communities.

The actions of the QPS to have total disregard for the approved TOR and the inability to sit with the discomfort of accountability are a direct manifestation of the culture of racism that the Commission of Inquiry exposed in 2022. These actions demonstrate how the dominate powers will move to silence and disempower those who hold them accountable and are but one example of the systemic racism which needs to be addressed.

We will continue to work together and with others to advocate for improved policing practices with our First Nations peoples and communities. We will in good faith continue to work with the integrity of intent that resulted in our appointment to the First Nations Reference Group in the first place.

We will continue to actively seek to work with those Queensland Police Officers who understand the importance of relationship and truth in bringing about the necessary changes and value community policing that is safe for all members of our community, particularly our First Nations communities.

We are proud of the work undertaken by us during our term as the First Nations Advisory Group (previously known as the First Nations Reference Group). In the approved meeting time of 93 hours and many of our own unrecognised hours we have been able to actively engage in and undertake significant work including;

1. A submission to the Commission of Inquiry into QLD police responses to Domestic and Family Violence (COI) demonstrating the manifestation of systemic racism existing within the QLD police service.

2. The submission of a raft of recommendations to the COI which were accepted by government in their entirety but remain to be properly and meaningfully implemented.

3. The progression of recommendation 45 – completing a co-designed terms of reference that recognised the Government’s commitment to self-determination and reframing the relationship with First Nations communities, endorsed by QPS lawyers and Commissioner Carroll.

4. A draft action plan (recommendation 45) which targeted the implementation of recommendations as they pertain to the policing of First Nations Communities including those from the COI as well as those subsequent to this enquiry including but not limited to those from Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

5. Advocacy and submission on the removal of the Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint – which was removed from the QPS Operating Procedures Manual.

6. Advocacy and naming of Police Boat within the Torres Strait Islands.

7. Advocacy to address the outwardly racist remarks of the QPU President and agreement from the Commissioner for Police to undertake a racism audit of the QPS (Nov 21 2023).

8. Advice on the Custody Notification Scheme.

9. Extensive community engagement and support to members of the community who sort console and advice as a result of their alleged experiences of police brutality and racism.

10.Advocacy and advice with regards to:

I. the unfulfilled components of recommendation 45 – First Nations Advisory Group.
II. recommendation 46 & 47 – First Nations Division.
III. recommendation 46 & 47 – identified First Nations Executive Director.
IV. identified PLO roles – recommendation 11.
V. Support, training and resources for PLOs (in particular vehicles which were rolled out statewide) – recommendations 59, 60, 61, 62 & 63.
VI. identified Policing Roles – recommendation 11.
VII. submission with regards to recommendation 12 – QHRC review.
VIII. identified roles within the First Nations Division – recommendation 46 & 47.
IX. a model of service delivery to ensure local solutions are delivered in local communities with are codesigned and led by community – recommendation 46, 47, 55 & 56: including the presentation of a proposed model of service delivery to Mayors Summit in 2023.
X. Recommendation 64: First Nations award ceremony to recognise excellence in policing
practices with First Nations communities – the first held in 2023.
XI. recommendations 41, 42, 49 & 59: First Nations Cultural Capability including Training.
XII. Recommendations 44 & 68, to ensure culturally safe complaints processes.
XIII. Recommendation 48: QPS Reconciliation Action Plan.
XIV. Recommendation 52& 53: engagement with and support to Community Justice Groups particularly with the transfer of youth cautioning responsibilities needing to be resourced adequately.
XV. And contribution to Recommendation 14: Specialist DFV training
XVI. Victims of crime
XVII. Youth Justice

Whilst we were only just starting to make some significant progress towards repairing the relationship with QPS, we have contributed to the above matters which are all part of the significant reform required within the QPS.

Nothing will change unless something changes. We call on you Premier Miles and the Independent Implementation Supervisor to protect the integrity of the intent and keep our communities cultural safe, by placing on hold the current QPS advisory group recruitment process in order to meet with us to hear our concerns and to take action to ensure meaningful change occurs.

Acknowledgement and Content Advice​

The Sunshine Coast Reconciliation Group Incorporated acknowledges and pays respect to Queensland’s past, present and future Traditional Owners and Elders and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.