NAIDOC Week profile: Senior Police Liaison Officer Maj-Lis Dalton

Senior Police Liaison Officer (SPLO) and PLO Coordinator Maj-Lis Dalton is a passionate educator, storyteller and community member, with her teachings coming from a place of diverse understanding and recognition of her vibrant cultural background.

SPLO Dalton grew up in Gordonvale in a family of 10 children. She credits her mother for advocating for herself and her siblings to stay in school, encouraging Maj-Lis to pursue her education further.

A proud Yidinji woman, SPLO Dalton comes from a rich culture whose traditional rainforest meets sea Country and takes in some of Cairns and Yarrabah, lower coastal Yarrabah to Russell River and Babinda, and stretches west to the Atherton Tablelands.

On her dad’s side she is Yidinji and has connection to Butchulla people and country of Fraser Island. Through her mum’s side she has a close Torres Strait Islander (Dorante and Sebasio) and South Sea Islander (Backo and Henaway) family connection, and also embraces her Italian heritage.

Such a rich cultural background means SPLO Dalton is especially passionate about this year’s NAIDOC Week theme of ‘Heal Country’.

“Heal Country is about nurturing people and environment – the lands and waters around us, the sky, things that sustain us and sustain other life,” SPLO Dalton said.

“When country is in a healthy condition, so are the lives connected to that land and sea country.

“Healthy land and waters nurture the soul – you know when you are back home and on country when you sense the things that remind you of your connectedness to that place. For me it is the smell of the salt air, the fragrance of the bush, the sand under your feet, the fresh coastal breeze.

“It’s a bit like the feeling when you’ve been out fishing or spending a day at the beach or camping, you feel refreshed, recharged.”

Walsh’s Pyramid (traditionally name Djarragun) at Gordonvale is a sight that Maj-Lis feels a strong connection to.

Before joining the Queensland Police Service (QPS), Maj-Lis completed a Bachelor of Arts in Australian and Comparative Studies majoring in Australian Political Economy and a Master of Social Science majoring in Criminology.

She lectured for nine years at Griffith University in Indigenous Australian Studies and Socio-Cultural Understandings, before joining the QPS in 2004 as a Staff Development Officer in the Police Recruit Operational Vocational Education (PROVE) Program.

Now based in the Far Northern Region, Maj-Lis’ role as a PLO Coordinator is largely focused on cultivating positive and respectful interactions.

SPLO Maj-Lis Dalton (front, second from right) pictured here with colleagues and Assistant Commissioner Brett Schafferius at the 2019 NAIDOC week celebration

When asked to reflect on how her heritage guides her day-to-day work, Maj-Lis acknowledges her parents and their influence in the growth and appreciation of her history.

“Mum and Dad lived at Yarrabah when it was an Anglican Mission, where they lived under a range of social, legal and political restrictions at the time. I can take what I have heard from my parents to have meaningful conversations with people sharing my parents’ experiences.

“We have discussions at work with other PLOs and officers about history and contemporary people and lifestyles to form a better relationship between First Nations peoples and officers – a relationship built upon understanding.

“The meaning of language words and phrases, beliefs, and cultural practices, as well as First Nations peoples’ knowledge about things like astronomy, geography, medicine, healing and food.”

SPLO Dalton is based in the Cross-Cultural Liaison Unit, Cairns. Gimuy is the traditional place name for the area Cairns City now occupies.

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.

NAIDOC Week profile: Police Liaison Officer Adam Osborne

NAIDOC Week profile: Acting Inspector Lisa Damman

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