Just over a decade ago, Wiradjuri/Ngunnawal man Adam Osborne arrived in the remote town of St George to find work restoring houses damaged by the floods that devastated much of Queensland in early 2011.
Now a Police Liaison Officer (PLO) with the Queensland Police Service (QPS), PLO Osborne liked what he saw and he and his wife decided to adopt the community as the place they would live and raise their children.
In the years since then, he has poured his passion and energy into helping First Nations people in St George and further afield improve their opportunities, gain employable skills, reduce recidivism and connect with their culture.
A carpenter by trade, he initially worked at a number of jobs including as a housing inspector for the St George Shire Council before joining the QPS as a PLO in 2016.
PLO Osborne said working with the QPS had enabled him to better serve the community of St George.
“The QPS is a trusted brand, and it provides me with opportunities to help the community that I wouldn’t have had otherwise,” PLO Osborne said.
“As well as giving me a foot in the door with government and non-government stakeholders, I’m able to help bridge gaps in communication between police and the First Nations people of St George,” he said.
Like many remote communities, St George has had its problems with drug addiction and a lack of opportunity for young people. PLO Osborne is convinced that boredom and a sense of hopelessness are to blame for many of the problems.
In 2018, he was instrumental in sourcing funding and setting up the Mani Tribes Art Gallery. The gallery provides employment for a number of local First Nations artists, a connection to culture for school groups, and opportunities to learn new skills for people completing community service orders. Threatened by the impending sale of the premises, he has worked tirelessly over the past year to secure funding to ensure the gallery is able to continue its important role.
Late last year, one of the artists worked together with PLO Osborne on a stunning wall mural inside the St George Police Station that illustrates the connection he has established between the local Kamilaroi and Yuwalaraay cultures and the QPS.
PLO Osborne’s advocacy for his local community doesn’t stop with art, however. As chair of the St George Aboriginal Housing Company, he has retained responsibility for maintaining the 33 houses owned by the company. When repairs are needed, he employs local youth to assist him so he can pass on his carpentry skills.
PLO Osborne firmly believes in giving people a hand up, rather than a hand-out, and he devotes a considerable amount of his own time to mentoring young people who are struggling to find a direction in life.
He and his family live on a property beside the river just out of town, and he has set up a camping area with a camp kitchen to host groups of First Nations high school students from Toowoomba. The arrangement is in collaboration with the Clontarf Academy, with the students learning life skills and gaining work experience and agricultural skills on local farms.
He also works alongside a First Nations motor mechanic to teach car maintenance and restoration skills to locally based young people, which further provides opportunities for mentoring and discussions about road safety.
PLO Osborne’s devotion to his adopted community seems boundless, even extending to coaching the local junior rugby league team. Later this month, four talented young players will travel with him to Wandoan to compete in the Balonne-Barwon Junior Rugby League competition.
PLO Osborne’s connection to St George has been crucial for the QPS in getting important COVID-19 information out to his community, and continues to help build trust and understanding between police and First Nations people.
PLO Osborne is currently stationed in St George Police Station in Kooma country.
The QPS is proud to come together in celebration of the rich and diverse cultures of our First Nations communities for NAIDOC Week. We thank our First Nations members for sharing their stories.