Smoking ceremony for Reconciliation Week, South Australia

South Australia Police (SAPOL) is today celebrating National Reconciliation Week’s 2022 theme of ‘Be Brave. Make Change’. SAPOL held a smoking ceremony at the front of Police Headquarters (PHQ), Angas Street this morning.

Senior Kaurna man and SAPOL’s Aboriginal Learning and Development Officer, Michael O’Brien facilitated the smoking ceremony, accompanied by the beautiful sounds of the Yidaki (didgeridoo) played by a member of the Police Band.

Smoking ceremonies are an Aboriginal custom which involves the burning of native plants to produce smoke, acknowledging the ancestors and paying respect to country. The ceremony cleanses the area and removes the old energy and spirits, allowing the new and good to be brought to people, bringing greater connection to place.

SAPOL staff took part in the ceremony by walking through the smoke and taking smoked gum leaves with them as a memento, and way of keeping positive energy with them wherever they go both personally and professionally.

Speaking of the smoking ceremony Michael O’Brien said “We are all born of the physical, emotional and spiritual and we are all connected when we come to a place together.”

“We all bring many things with us, our smells, our energy, our spirit, and physical items, all from our past and present. Sometimes these have a negative impact on one’s self, people and place.

“A smoking ceremony is about removing and neutralising this, so the space can be cleansed of the old and allows the new and good to be present.”

Assistant Commissioner Metropolitan Operations Service, Scott Duval was honoured to attend today’s ceremony.

“We are proud to hold the smoking ceremony at SA Police headquarters as part of our commitment to reconciliation,” said Assistant Commissioner Duval.

“We strive to deliver policing services and create genuine relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, recognising the importance of reconciliation and acknowledging their cultural rights.”

“A key part of our community engagement is through our Community Constables who gain trust with the community, as well as building and maintaining relationships. SAPOL acknowledges the critical importance and contribution of the role of Community Constable. These officers possess unique capabilities and skills and in recognition of that were recently afforded equal pay and rank consistent with other sworn police officers.”

SAPOL also works closely with the Department for Human Services’ Outreach team to ensure there are safe places to stay and gather as well as opportunities for a sustainable return to country option for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

This morning SAPOL was Principal Sponsor of the National Reconciliation Week Breakfast organised by Reconciliation South Australia, with several staff attending.

Earlier this week SAPOL staff, including Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, attended the Aboriginal Power Cup. This carnival celebrates and recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their contribution to Australian Rules Football.

SAPOL is also involved in other activities during National Reconciliation Week including:

  • 27 May- Attendance at a family event at the Christie Downs Community Centre.
  • 29 May- Walk and Run for Reconciliation event in Murray Bridge.
  • 30 May- Morning tea at Port Pirie Police Station for invited stakeholders.
  • 31 May- Smoking Ceremony at the Ceduna Police Station Cell Complex conducted by local Aboriginal Elders.
  • 1 June– Longest kick competition at Port Lincoln High School where Community Constables and other SAPOL staff will assist in cooking a barbeque for students.

National Reconciliation Week is held from 27 May – 3 June. For more information please visit

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