Aboriginal Service Medal for breaking down police barriers

Ailish DelaneySouth Western Times
WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson presents Lera Bennell with her award.
Camera IconWA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson presents Lera Bennell with her award. Credit: Supplied

Lera Bennell has spent the most part of her life fighting to break down barriers between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities and was last month recognised for her service to the WA police force.

Ms Bennell was among the first seven Aboriginal police aides to take up duty in Perth, and now she has been awarded an Aboriginal Service Medal for her dedication.

“I was pleased to receive a medal in honour of my contribution,” she said.

“Our role was important because we helped to break down the barriers between police and Aboriginal people.”

Lera Bennell during her time as an Aboriginal Police Aide.
Camera IconLera Bennell during her time as an Aboriginal Police Aide.

Ms Bennell worked as a police aide from 1985 to 1992 and said the positive experiences were worth the challenges.

“It wasn’t an easy job,” she said.

The police force opened up their doors for women to come along, and I applaud them for giving that chance.

She started working at 15 years old and from there knew she wanted to gain independence and work to help bridge the gap.

“I wanted to work towards positive change,” she said. “I hope I can help encourage my mob to chase after what they want and know they can make a difference.

After the police force, Ms Bennell hit the books and completed her Master of Indigenous Social Policy.

“I was so happy to know I could do it,” she said. “I want my mob to know the opportunities are out there through education.”

Lera Bennell graduating her masters degree.
Camera IconLera Bennell graduating her masters degree.

While steps have been made towards equality, Ms Bennell wants the community to be aware that more still needs to be done.

“I feel I really contributed to the rights of our people, but we still don’t have a voice,” she said. “There’s still a communication breakdown and the truth needs to be told before we can move on.”

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