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Aaron Bunch

Elite police awards racist: NT corruption watchdog

One of the award certificates linked to claims of racism within Northern Territory Police. (HANDOUT/NT CORONER'S COURT)

A corruption watchdog investigating claims of racism within the Northern Territory's elite police unit has found evidence to support the allegation.

A series of racist award certificates allegedly handed out by the force's territory response group came to light in February at a coronial inquest into the death of Indigenous man Kumanjayi Walker.

The certificates triggered a joint investigation into improper conduct within the unit by NT police and the NT Independent Commissioner Against Corruption, Michael Riches.

Evidence collected so far supported the allegation that awards had been issued within the territory response group that were racist towards Aboriginal people, Mr Riches said on Tuesday.

"I have formed that view based upon the material I have been shown and the language used in that material," he said.

Mr Riches issued the rare public statement to raise awareness about the investigation into certificates issued since 2007.

He invited current and former police officers with first-hand information to contact investigators.

"Those involved need to take responsibility and be a part of the process to address these matters," he said.

"Such occurrences must never be allowed to occur in the future."

The commissioner said any past or present officer who voluntarily provided truthful information to his office would not be subject to an adverse finding under the ICAC Act, referred to the police force for potential disciplinary action, or publicly named.

Former NT police constable Zachary Rolfe tendered three award certificates at Mr Walker's inquest as evidence in February in a bid to prove the force's ingrained culture of racism.

Mr Rolfe shot Kumanjayi Walker, 19, three times as he resisted being handcuffed while armed with a pair of scissors in Yuendumu, northwest of Alice Springs, on November 9, 2019.

Mr Rolfe was acquitted of murder at a five-week trial.

The first certificate depicts an Aboriginal flag with the territory response group logo in the corner with the words "CAUTION for a RAPE ... that's all that needs to be said".

The award appears to be from 2013 and the name of the receiving constable is redacted.

The second certificate from 2012 depicts the TRG logo and an image of a police rescue vehicle chasing Usain Bolt.

The words "Runner up SOOTY AWARD, for outstanding lack of excellence in approaching a stronghold" are printed.

The TRG logo is also on the final 2012 award, depicting a naked man lying on his back and a woman wearing revealing clothing.

The words include "award for outstanding lack of excellence in cooking sausages".

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