New face at Katanning police station strives for new connections
The new public face of Katanning police hopes the Aboriginal community embraces her on their land as she settles into her new role at the station.
Gubrun Barngarla woman Kellie Crouch has started working as Katanning police station’s new customer service officer.
Mrs Crouch said she thought it was “absolutely” important to have an Aboriginal person at the front of the station who members of the local Aboriginal community could come and speak to.
“It’s a fantastic presence to have, in any workplace, I have always enjoyed working in the justice department and I have found out that visibility counts for a lot,” she said.
“In terms of the police station itself, I think visibility is really high and it is really good to have somebody, because if I was to come and I saw an Aboriginal person behind the counter I would feel more comfortable in coming in and reporting things.”
She acknowledged that while she was an Aboriginal person, she was not from the Great Southern and she wanted to show her respect for the land she was living on.
Mrs Crouch said she hoped her new role would help her connect with the people of this land.
“I don’t know too much about the people from here, but in terms of being respectful to that and in terms of working in the environment that I do, all I can do is be true to who I am in order for them to get an idea as to who I am,” she said.
“This is their home and I am privileged to be here ... my hope is the general public and people see that Aboriginal people can work in all sorts of roles regardless of where it is.”
After spending 12 years working as a customer service officer in Kalgoorlie for the Department of Justice, Mrs Crouch said she hoped her experience in the courts would help her address community concerns in her police role.
“I’ve travelled to many different places within that (justice) role. Because I was based in Kalgoorlie, they have a very big area that they cover so we would travel to Norseman, down to Esperance and out to Laverton and our patch extended out to Blackstone.”
“You would fly with the magistrates, the police prosecutors, the lawyers ... it was a fantastic experience.
“The transition in terms of customers and client service is not too big of a leap, but the nature of business is definitely different and the kind of people you interact with and the questions you answer are different.”
Mrs Crouch said it took her a long time to learn the ways of the legal system after transitioning from a health background, having worked for several years in the Adelaide Aboriginal Step-down Unit.
She hoped her ability to adapt would help her in her new role.
“To go from health to justice, the acronyms and language changes, and the processes and the policies change, so it’s about adapting and learning as you go along,” she said.
“It’s almost about a level of code switching when you deal with people ... the body language comes into play, there are a lot of cultural issues that come into play and it is about meeting those needs in the best possible way.”
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