Western Australian of the Year and Indigenous Education Ambassador, Senior Sergeant Travis Lupton has been described as a community peacekeeper. Rising swiftly through the ranks of the WA police force, Travis saw an opportunity to stop domestic violence in his own community when he became the officer in charge at Fitzroy Crossing.
“I was born and raised in Fitzroy Crossing and I’d seen the failures in service delivery when it came to domestic violence, so I thought here’s my opportunity,” Travis recalls.
“We joined with the local women’s centre and introduced zero tolerance, so that when a victim came to us the next day wanting to withdraw the charge, we said ‘No, that was up to the magistrate’. In the majority of cases the offender received counselling and/or a good behaviour bond and what we saw over two years was the level of violence fall and the number of reporting incidents rise because women knew we were going to do something about it.”
As a result of this model, Travis and representatives of the women’s centre were asked to address the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.
Travis started out in the WA police force as an Aboriginal Police Aide and worked his way up through the ranks.
“I really did start on the lowest rung and there were a lot of people who thought I wouldn’t get ahead, but when people say I can’t do something then I have to prove them wrong,” Travis says.
He wasn’t always quite so driven. He remembers he was a ‘quiet child’ but when he left home and become independent he knew his future was in his hands.
“I suppose I learned I didn’t know everything. My goals came a lot later in life because I didn’t have much education. I followed everybody else onto the stations, but I realised there was more to life… that I could use my brains.”
He believes one of the biggest challenges for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people is peer pressure and the need for more parental engagement when it comes to education.
“Some parents are old fashioned and don’t believe in the education system, but I believe parents have a duty of care to give their children the best education for survival in life.
“If I could give kids advice it would be to stay in school and take up the opportunities presented to you. When I was going to school there were not the opportunities we have today.”
Travis has worked in the WA Police Force for over 15 years and, as a Sergeant, is one of the highest ranked Aboriginal police officers in the force.