Operation Preston: Bairnsdale Police Station social club racist stubby holders
IBAC reviewed a Victoria Police investigation into allegations that the Bairnsdale Police Station social club was improperly involved in the design, production and sale of racist ‘stubby holders’. The Victoria Police investigation of the allegations against members of the social club resulted in findings of ‘unsubstantiated’, except for one police officer, a former Senior Constable, against whom the allegation was ‘not proceeded with’.
IBAC found the investigation considered each alleged racist element of the stubby holders in isolation, and did not take into account the collective narrative of the design, which if read in sequence depicted the following:
- police member arrives at a call out in Bairnsdale
- member is called ‘Yadawg’ by an Indigenous person
- member deploys capsicum spray (‘Bairnsdale handshake’)
- the capsicum spray is implicated in the person catching alight (‘Not that flammable’)
- the member reports back to the station GOANODAAC (‘Gone on arrival, no offence detected, all apparently correct’).
We considered the Victoria Police conclusion that the terms used were not racist as contentious, and inconsistent with Victoria Police values.
On 16 January 2014, we recommended to the Chief Commissioner of Police that the outcome of the investigation be amended to ‘substantiated’ for the former senior constable and serving Sergeant, and that disciplinary proceedings be considered.
Victoria Police accepted the recommendation.